Curbing our litter
by Emily Gallagher
Jul 15, 2017 | 4998 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Saturday morning, I laid in my bed, wondering what to do with my day.

I had a lot of errands to run and some cleaning to do, but I did not quite find that so appetizing. I was texting with some friends and learned that they were all going to an event called “Curb Your Litter!” at the Greenpoint Reformed Church.

I decided to join them.

On my way over, I was wondering what I was thinking. Did I really want to spend my day off picking up awful litter off the street? Also, it was hot and sunny out and I was already sweating.

However, when I got there, everyone was peppy, kind and excited to be there. I was a little shocked, but definitely inspired.

Curb Your Litter is a project of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce and was a recipient of the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. It is a project run by local advocates Caroline Bauer and Alan Minor.

Beginning in 2015, the three-year project partners with Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, which is how I found out about it, as well as Closed Loops.

Each waste cleanup day focuses on a particular part of the neighborhood. Teams go out, collect the trash they find on the street (excluding any, ahem, organic dog or human waste), and then they bring it back to the site.

Curb Your Litter then weighs and measures what garbage was found where. They divided Greenpoint into four quadrants – northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest.

Each workday, and there are 12 in total, each quadrant is divided into zones, and each zone is measured with how much waste is collected there and how dirty the area feels.

Over the day, I learned a lot.

First, I met a ton of neighbors I had never met before, and all of them were Greenpointers looking for a way to plug in and make Greenpoint a better place.

It was really awesome to see more people out and about working on bettering our neighborhood, especially when it required doing something a little dirty, sweaty and uncomfortable.

Second, I learned that there are only 100 public trash cans in Greenpoint, despite there being 73,000 residents.

This trash data collection will be put into a map that will be used to suggest places where new garbage cans can be placed.

The Closed Loops analysis in 2015 came up with the following data, which I found extremely interesting, as listed on the Curb Your Litter website:

• Industrial blocks cause the most litter and have no garbage cans.

• Big Belly litter bins did nothing to reduce the quantity of litter on the street. This has also been my experience. Personally, I think people don’t want to touch the germy handle on the bin. Six out of 16 Big Belly bins were jammed, overflowing or out of service to an extent that they were unusable.

• 78 percent of litter is from people passing by, like cigarette butts and candy wrappers. Many of these get caught in and sucked into our storm drains, with which we already have an overflow problem.

• There is also a substantial amount of waste thrown out of truck and car windows along our major thoroughfares.

The few hours we spent together collecting garbage went fast, and we all hungrily ate the delicious lunch provided for us by Sizzle Pie.

It was an awesome morning of inspiring community action, and I look forward to the next event, which will happen in the fall.

Hope to see you there!
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