Philadelphia has a street trash problem that is being mislabeled as a litter problem. We all understand litter, the soda bottle, snack food wrapper that is tossed on the sidewalk. Unfortunately we tend to use litter for all “street trash”, both gross illegal dumping and the extraneous snack food wrapper.
I have started using street trash to label all street-sidewalk-vacant lot-park space debris, including tires, TVs, mattresses, bulky items-furniture, residential trash as well as the pedestrian snack food droppings. All is trash, all has wound up in our common space, hence the term street trash.
Here are several Philadelphia 311 illegal dumping service request photos taken from the 311 OpenDataPhilly website (link) on Monday, February 6, 2017.
Big Belly overflowing with trash. Notice plastic bag with happy face next to Big Belly.
Excess trash will eventually fall to sidewalk.
Illegal Dumping -bags of trash may rip,spill, and scatter over a wide area, appearing to be “litter” when it is actually trash.
Illegal Dumping – bags will rip and scatter trash, appearing to be “litter”
Street Litter – where did it come from? Was it dropped by pedestrian or dumped in a bag that ripped and spill trash?
Street Litter – looks like residential trash bag opened and spilled
We will only have clean streets when we address and begin to control our illegal dumping crisis. Much of what we call litter actually start as bags of residential trash that are placed on a sidewalk by someone unwilling to wait until the next trash day.
Let’s start to call all dumpers by their right name, DUMPERS. An old mattress or soda bottle tossed on the sidewalk comes from the same thoughtless behavior. We need to go after all dumpers, big and small.
Philadelphia’s Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet (link, link) is a great opportunity for Philadelphia to begin to control out waste & trash future. It is absolutely critical that we recognize the importance of illegal dumping in litter efforts. We need to tackle both illegal dumping and litter to get our streets to the cleanliness level that we want.
Philadelphia has a litter problem that causes water pollution problems in our local creeks, Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers as well as Delaware bay and Atlantic Ocean. Click this image to see how much litter accumulates in 95 feet of Philadelphia streets.
This litter photo survey was taken in the 6100 block of E Godfrey street near Adams Ave & Cresentville Road on 9/9/14.
I counted 155 pieces of litter in this 95 foot stretch of E Godfrey St. Count them yourself and see how many pieces you find.
This map shows the extent of my 4/1/14 photo trash tour of the Tacony – Frankford Creek from E Wyoming Ave to Castor Ave.
View the slide show by clicking on any image.
To view the tour as a pdf, click this link.
Microsoft has released a new version of Photosynth that significantly improves photo documentation of creek trash. I took my digital camera to Rock Creek, a small tributary of the Tookany – Tacony Creek to see how if Photosynth can be used to document creek trash in small creeks. The answer is YES!.
Here are links to several Rock Creek Photosynths that show the power of this tool in documenting creek conditions.
- Rock Creek just upstream of Washington Lane Bridge (link)
- Icicles Along Rock Creek (link)
- Rock Creek Trash Tour Below MH2 (link)
- Trash Tour below Cheltenham Storm Sewer Outfall (link)
- Rock Creek Trash Tour Below PWD’s CSO T-01 (link)
Photosynth’s Walk mode lets you “glide” from photo to photo along the creek as if you were flying. You can stop the auto advance and move forward – reverse at your own pace.You can zoom and pan to see the creek litter or others of interest. This tool takes litter photography to a whole new level.
Rock Creek Below PWD’s T-01 Outfall by KellyOday on Photosynth
Example of Rock Creek Trash Captured in 3D with Photosynth