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  • One Solution to Cleaner Streets: Don’t Litter eagles-aftermath Full view

    One Solution to Cleaner Streets: Don’t Litter

    We celebrated a milestone Eagles Victory… with 60 tons of rubbish.

    Last week, people were praising the Streets Department for their quick cleanup in response to the trashed streets. And even when I walked in Center City on Friday, I noticed the streets around City Hall looked cleaner than usual. Kudos, Streets Dept!

    The City sanitation department is a part of the equation. Over the years, I’ve had a fair share of citizens ask me why they don’t clean up the streets more. 

    But there’s another part of the equation. Just like we teach children, sometimes it’s stopping and asking ourselves, or friends – or strangers – not to litter. Sounds easy, right?

    Despite my Green Philly claim-to-fame, I rarely shame people for their bad environmental habits. My approach tends to be a little more subtle, focusing on benefits (‘did you know you could save money by using a refillable cup?’) or sharing how I handle things (It’s cheaper to use the bulk bins and bring my own containers!).

    Fast forward to last Thursday’s parade. Despite Mayor Kenney’s plea to leave beer cans at home, 80% of the attendees ignored the advisory. I saw a young man with a beer, debating what to do with his empty. Politely, I pointed out that there were half empty recycling bins 10′ away on the corner of the street. Even after I mentioned how he shouldn’t litter, I noticed he dropped his beer bottle (I”ll pick it up later” – he didn’t).

    Although parade man may have ignored me, my efforts don’t always fail.

    This past April, we waited in line during the Phillies season opener. As I was waiting with massive amounts of fans decked out in Phillies gear, I noticed a tree that was full of beer cans decorated like a Griswold Christmas Tree. I began removing the cans and holding them until we crept up in line closer to the recycling bins. As I saw a couple giggling and about to add to the pile, I subtly told them “Don’t do that – that tree is alive. It’s a d*ck move!” Although the boyfriend smirked, the girlfriend changed her mind and carried the beer can to the trash.

    Moral of the Story

    After the Eagles Parade day, I chatted with my friend for 15 minutes about how ridiculous it is that people carry around their full containers across the city and dispose of them immediately. Is it really that hard to hold your empty for a few extra minutes?

    Here’s what to do next time.

    1) Find a recycling bin. (Or trash, if really impossible.)

    2) Can’t find a recycling bin? Put your extra cans/bottles back in the bag you brought them in until you get to a trash or recycling bin. Sometimes, that might even be home. (Oh, the horror.)

    It’s really not that hard. But sometimes, it takes a moment of reminding your fellow community member that there’s a wiser choice. Even though “they” should clean it up, we have the ability to contribute to the bigger picture. After all, it is our city.

    And for those of you who are thinking, “Don’t worry, my friends are civilized, and we don’t litter.” Maybe it’s throwing a cigarette butt on the ground (yes, still litter). Perhaps it’s using a disposable water bottle every time you see them. Or maybe it’s using an endless amount of plastic bags for one item. There are tiny habits we can all encourage each other to swap.

    Want to defeat litter further? Pick up litter on the streets, either around your home or during a walk. You can also sign up for Not in Philly, where you can sign up to clean your block.

    Cover Photo: Cecily Tynan on Facebook 

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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