I really like Philly. Restaurants that give you the option to add vegan beef to your tacos, happy hour, murals everywhere, a year round indoor farmers market, great shops selling local artists work, a frozen yogurt place where you choose from a million flavors and toppings and then pay for it based on the weight, really, it’s pretty cool here.

But the litter! Oh man, I’ve been here a number of times before, but now that my litter radar is super sensitive I’m noticing how bad it really is. I probably picked up a hundred pieces of trash so far today and that was in a two block radius. If I had stuck to my original goal of picking up every piece of trash I saw, I’d be fucked.

It’s interesting because I’ve made some observations about the differences in the litter here compared to the litter in Boston. There’s definitely just as much addictive trash (cigarette butts, empty booze bottles, coffee cups), but there’s a ton of food trash here too. It really looks like people just rip open the package of everything they eat and throw it on the ground. And not only is there a ton of food trash, there’s a lot of random trash. Empty lots will be filled with toilets and old tvs and other random household items. In Boston, you just don’t see that. Apparently in Philly, anything goes.

Another observation I made is that there’s definitely a shortage of trash cans here. In the downtown area and around the UPenn campus in West Philly where we were today, there were trash cans on every block, and in turn, less litter. In South Philly though, once you get passed South Street, it’s impossible to find a trash can, and because of this (and probably a number of other reasons), there’s litter everywhere. Philly needs more trash cans! Obviously everyone should take personal responsibility for the trash they create, but since this is an improbability, at least make it easy for people to throw stuff away. Even the convenience stores around here don’t have trash cans in front of them. No wonder there’s food trash all over the place!

I really think the root of the problem is that people just don’t care. There shouldn’t have to be public trash cans, if you have something you need to throw away and you don’t see a trash can, bring it home with you and throw it away there. Know what I really want to know though? I always see signs on the highway that say that there’s fines for littering but how often are people really penalized for it? It’d be amazing to stick a few police officers on the streets here and have them handing out citations. Maybe if it were strictly enforced people might be a little less inclined to litter. Who knows…

One thought on “Philadelphia

  1. I heard this story the other day about a guy who was caught littering somewhere along the side of the road in RI and an officer pulled him over. After looking up his record, the officer discovered that he was wanted for literally dozens of different charges… Battery, assault, robbery, etc. You name it, he was down for it. Talk about karma. Another fun fact? I believe he was on foot, too (NOT EVEN DRIVING!!!). So, hopefully that answers your question about the litter laws being enforced. Only in RI where cops have next to nothing to do – besides eat donuts and pick their noses – would they enforce this law and stumble upon a true felon. What a win. I guess that’s one way to “clean up the streets”.

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