Dealing with Trash

February 29, 2012
By

After surveying trash put outs on trash day across East Boston, Eastie resident Chris Marchi has submitted his findings to city officials for review.

Marchi has been working with the city for the past decade on ways to analyze and solve litter and trash occurrences on the streets in the neighborhood.

For the past month, Marchi has been keeping a log of how people in the neighborhood put out trash in different sections and whether there was any correlation between how trash is put out (whether in un-approved bags or barrels) and the overall cleanliness of the streets in those areas.

“The biggest differences I saw throughout the neighborhood was in areas where a majority of residents put trash out in bags only,” said Marchi. “Areas with less bag only put outs had lower spill risks and less litter on the streets following trash collection.”

Marchi found that bag only put outs on trash day were far more popular in areas like Eagle Hill, Jeffries Point, the Mount Carmel Parish area and areas of Chelsea Street where there is a higher concentration of taller multifamily buildings and more restrictive trash storage areas.

“By comparing these areas to the less densely built environments, such as the Star of the Sea Parish and Orient Heights we can come up with some important findings,” said Marchi.

Marchi said with the risk of trash spills in areas where residents use mostly bags to put out rubbish on trash day eight times higher he’s encouraging city officials to find ways to discourage bag only put outs.

“Discouraging bag only put outs would improve cleanliness,” said Marchi.

Marchi’s study has concluded that bag only trash put outs in un-approved bags (like plastic shopping bags or one-plied kitchen trash bags) needs to be stopped.

“Un-approved bag put outs were seen to produce a higher

rate of spill risk across all areas regardless of the density of the built environment,” said Marchi. “Education and enforcement should aim to eliminate these put outs.”

Marchi suggestions to the city include creating a professional quality effective, research driven anti-littering education campaign; implement an aggressive and sustained police enforcement initiative to reduce littering; create an effective public engagement campaign on trash put out regulations and cleanliness; implement a targeted and managed trash put out regulation enforcement campaign; and investigate changes in trash collection policies, ordinances and regulations.

“We have that sort of opportunity right in front of us, with the trash put out situation,” said Marchi.  “We should consider the information we have, figure out what we would like to see done, then ask for help doing it.  If we can convince city officials that what we suggest will actually help solve the problem with cleanliness, I think they’ll help.”

  • Razzjr

    The problem is these people tearing open the trash bags looking for bottles then the trash is all over the place not what they are put in

  • bellaxyz

    There are many homes where the trash is put into flimsy shopping bags or piled up in boxes, and then this trash blows around before it can be picked up.  If police can enforce trash regulations more (i.e., giving out tickets for those who don’t use the heavy duty black bags, putting out TVs, etc) then the trash problem would very quickly improve.  But when there is no enforcement, why would anyone change? 

  • bellaxyz

    I would like to add that police enforce trash regulations a lot more in neighborhoods like the North End, and the problem is not nearly as bad there despite the higher density of people in the neighborhood. 

  • Althea

    Sorry to say that I find it a little disturbing that Chris Marchi has “been working with the city for the past decade” regarding trash problems in Eastie and comes to the conclusion….bag vs. barrel? REALLY?? What about the people ripping our trash bags open? We use barrels and have had bags “taken out of them, ripped open and left askew.”. REALLY?? ten years, bags vs. Barrels?? REALLY??

  • http://profiles.google.com/anthonyx26 Paul Rogers

    I agree…ten years to come up with bags vs barrels sounds a bit ridiculous.  In all fairness, he has likely been doing things other than just analyzing bags vs barrels (at least i hope so!).  It’s pretty clear, there are multiple causes:- carelessness: people not tighly closing/sealing disposal units regardless of type…barrel _or_ bag
    - bottle/can collectors leaving disposal units ajar
    - lack of enforcement…start fining residents/building owners and you can be assured, trash will quickly disappear from eastie streets

    Paul —

  • Resident on Prescott Street

    There are several homes around my building where most of the infractions concentrate. For example, the corner of Prescott and Lexington, where the public trash can is used by residents to put their residential trash. Also, there are other homes that see a consistently high amount of discarded items, not your average home trash. This is every trash day!

    Perhaps we residents should start taking pictures with our mobiles and sending them to the City of Boston to encourage enforcement.

  • Scott Mahoney

    I live in the Maverick Landing Apartment Community.  My partner and I put our trash in the correct types of bags and the bags are put in our trash barrel and wheeled out to the curb. The problem with litter in East Boston goes far beyond people using improper bags for disposal of their trash. Many of my neighbors do not even use trash bags, but throw their garbage right into their assigned trash barrels (each resident has one large barrel with their unit # painted on it).  Management should fine any resident who does this. 

    Another part of the problem are the gangs of homeless people, trash pickers, and bottle/can collectors. They rip open the bags and then the trash blows out all over the street. I have literally scared them off from ripping open our trash bags by taking photos of them with my cell phone. They freak out.

    People put out their trash way in advance of trash pickup day. Our trash collection day is Tuesday and I see people putting out their trash on Sunday night. I place my trash barrel at the curb on Tuesday morning and if I am home later in the day, I put it out right before disposal services show up. 

    Also, what is with all the mattresses being disposed of?  Every trash pickup day there are literally bed mattresses and box springs on every block? 

    People are pigs, lazy and don’t care.  In our community the attitude appears to be, “I only rent here, so I don’t have to be responsible for my actions”.  I say the city should start imposing huge fines on building/property owners, especially those with multiple rental units.  If your tenants aren’t following the rules, then either face the consequences or help the city fine your tenants for improper disposal of their trash.

    Contrary to what people may think, just because we live in the city doesn’t mean we cannot act like decent human beings who care, instead of acting like the neighborhood is our personal garbage can.

  • Andrea

    I personally do not see this happening in the area, no matter wht is out there the can pickers
    will go thought the trash, I have emailed Sal LaMattina, Carlo Basile & John Lynds, not one of them has responded to my complaints.
    There is one person who just comes by and tears opened the bags which are placed neatly out
    on the sidewalk for trash day and who also throws everything out of the recycling bins looking for whatever.
    I take my walk in the day time and see our disgusting sidewalks/streets, no on cares about East Boston what it looks like until they are running for re-election and then they are out and about.
    My husband who is handicap cleans the area in our neighborhood every day to keep it clean
    we take pride in what it looks like, others unfortunatly do not care.
    Yesterday afternoon at 3o’clock the person down the street from us, Putnam St put out 2 cans of paint, we called Mayor’s hot line, what response did we get, “oh, is it latex paint” what is with that, first of all it was put out at 3 in the afternoon and it should not be put out until after 5 and that is the response, so, does anyone come down, of course not, the kids walking by opened the can and there was paint everywhere, went down the storm drain right next to the house, so much for caring about us, what a crock, it was at 160 Putnam Street..

  • CrazyWorld2010

    Andrea,

    I commend your husband for taking the initiative in doing what he does to keep things clean.  I do the same thing on my street.  Some people are just pigs and don’t care how their actions affect anyone else.  They say change occurs when a few people care, so maybe we just keep trying.  The issue it seems is two fold: resident’s improperly disposing of trash and the pickers who rip open the bags in search of bottles and cans.

  • RJL

     I’m surprised by the consistently high volume of trash in front of certain – not terribly large – residences on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that say to the city’s inspectional powers that be that perhaps the building is populated over capacity? I mean, on one hand there is no set limit, and it might be reaching to say “you’re throwing out too much – what gives?”; but on the other hand, it totally screams “hazardous, over-crowded and possibly illegal living conditions that are one space heater or extension cord away from taking down the block”.

    As to the article/greater issue at hand, while trash in East Boston is absolutely out of hand and disgusting, a public information/education campaign sounds like a waste of time, money and effort for the little effect it will likely have. If someone doesn’t care enough to be a decent, civilized human being who doesn’t live in or create squallor, they are not going to care enough / be self-aware enough to change what they are doing.

    The way to handle this is through enforcement, plain and simple. If they can’t learn, they pay… and hopefully the money would go into the removal of the trash that couldn’t be disposed of properly.

    I know that spacing is tight in a lot of the neighborhoods, but trash barrels are a must. Yes, the can/bottle collectors may still rummage through them, as they would bags, but non-human pests will have a tougher time of it. I grew up in a pretty woodsy suburb, but have never seen so many skunks in my life since I moved to East Boston. If a primary source of their nutrition isn’t food waste haphazardly left out in CVS/Shaw’s bags, I’ll buy a hat and eat it.

    The first thing I did when I moved in was to purchase the sturdiest barrel I could find, and placed all trash within in heavy, tied bags. When I found that the barrel wasn’t always being emptied, I called the city, and was told that clearly the barrel was too big (it’s your pretty standard rectangle-on-wheels type), and that I should empty it onto the sidewalk the night before trash day.

    Lastly, whenever these trash issues come up, here, or in other parts of the city (or other cities), there’s always talk of putting the landlords/property owners to task for the doings of their tenants. In some ways I agree, but in others I feel that some responsibility has to fall on the tenants. While a landlord’s responsibility is to maintain their property, inside and out, can they really also be completely responsible for the actions of their tenants if they choose to live like animals?

    I know the cards are stacked against a landlord when it comes to evictions, but if a tenant racks up a consistent amount of citations for their actions, can that be grounds to evict? It should be.  

    In short, it’s sad how little regard some people have for their own living conditions, and the general conditions of the surrounding neighborhood. Unfortunately, you’ll never reach them through any means other than enforcement.

  • RJL

     If they were in barrels, perhaps the abundant skunk population wouldn’t be so, well, abundant.

  • Anthonyx26

    Walking up and down the streets shows it’s more than just household trash.  Littering is rampant too…CVS bags, fast food containers, cigarette butts…all contributing factors.

    It’d be nice to see more people outside sweeping in front of their buildings.  I’m a renter and I do it.  I don’t like to live in a sea of trash.  No excuse.

  • Kilativv

    City and state already make it nearly impossible to evict tenants without huge losses. How is it fair to fine landlords for tenants being pigs if Massachussets is all pro-renters.

    I own a propertie in Eastie(in which I occupy one floor) and regularly sweep my sidewalk. And so do my neighbouring landlords, some which don’t even live there.

    I’m up for fining people who trash and especially pickers, but not property owners. We have money invested in the neighborhood and we are the ones who pay the taxes that keep the city running. We actually care about our properties.

  • Eastie resident

    Maybe instead of being a rat and calling on people, you could have talked to that person?

  • Amruss2003

    The problem is these people tearing open the trash bags looking for bottles then the trash is all over the place not what they are put in, and the trash being pick up so late like 2-3 oclock in the afternoon. the cats and dogs also ripe open the bags.  

  • Bella

    I recently walked up to East Boston High to see a dance performance and was appalled at the litter on people’s property and in the gutters and streets which has obviously been there for months. It is laziness and disrespect for the city and country to litter. Not to racial profile but let’s face it – who are the people that are doing this that live there? People that come to America should have to pass a
    test on garbage disposal as well as a citizen test. My relatives immigrated here and were very poor, but they were grateful to be in America and kept their property neat and clean which doesn’t require money to do. It requires self respect and respect for America.

  • bob

    The real problem about this trash issue in Eastie has everything to do with overcrowding in 2 or 3 bedroom apartments! You have 6,7, or as much as 9 people in a 3 bedroom apartment ,this creates more trash on Eastie’s sidewalks!! These buildings are not occupied by owners, sometimes people that live in such squaler conditions forget to take their trash out, skipping a week , seen this many times in my area, where owner or tenants of building ignores taking trash out, when I see someone leaving trash still left in their back yard on trash pick up day, I take photo and submitted to city hall. There was a time when owners of homes swept in front of their homes, today , you will see something like that only in an affluent suburb.

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