For the past three years straight, Philadelphia was named one of America’s dirtiest cities in Travel and Leisure magazine. Public trash might be one of the least glamorous topics known to mankind, but imagine how clean and green a city can be if its trash is managed properly.
The streets of Graduate Hospital are freckled with trash, where there are a total of four BigBelly Solar cans dispersed throughout the area. SOSNA and the Philly Streets Department are working together to buy two more.
In short, BigBelly Solar cans are receptacles that compress waste using the power of indirect sunlight, and allow clients to check how full they are from any computer or smart phone. The perk is saving money on everything involving trash-pick, like fuel and labor.
CEO of BigBelly Solar, Barry Fougere, told FOX Business that the receptacles are about $5,000 for both the waste unit and recycling unit combined. Clients can make monthly payments rather than pay the total cost up front.
SOSNA implemented The Big Belly Campaign, where anyone can donate money online. The money directly goes toward the future purchases of two more receptacles.
Residents and visitors agree that more cans need to be added to the campaign’s goal, but SOSNA thinks six is the limit. SOSNA believes that adding more will result in residents using the cans to dump their personal trash rather than waiting until trash pick-up day.
However, resident Asha Suri already does just that. “I have a big family, and we produce a lot of garbage. Why not take advantage of it?” said Suri, who lives near the BigBelly on the corner of 18th and Christian St. Trash bags can be seen piled up alongside and jammed into the units. Landlord Kat Henry explained why the cans cost her money, “I’ve gotten tickets because the trash flies out of the can and into the front of the properties I own. The mission they’re trying to accomplish with these things isn’t panning out well.” Henry thinks the issue stems from the cans not being emptied enough.
This thought is shared with long-time resident Robert Tooey, “Not only are they not emptied enough, but there are not enough. I also watch kids throw their trash in the streets while I walk my dog.”
Christian St. resident Mario Velazquez said he is sick of seeing his neighbors slaving to pick up other people’s garbage. He also said he received a ticket for the trash-filled sidewalk in front of his home. “I went to City Hall and got out of it after I explained the situation… and at one point I put out a trash can of my own for people to use. Since it was my personal one… apparently that’s a problem for the higher-ups,” said Velazquez.
The “higher-ups” Velazquez mentioned are the Streets Department. The department’s website explains that public trash cans need to be approved by the block captain and then reported back. About a third of Philadelphia’s blocks have captains. Graduate Hospital works a little differently because SOSNA serves as the go-to for public trash problems.
Deputy commissioner at the Streets Department, Carlton Williams, said, “Block captains need half of their neighborhood to sign a petition… then that person is the one to go to with ideas to better the block.” When it comes to fines, Williams said many times people around the Graduate Hospital area get out of them because it’s not their fault.
The SWEEP team, a group of officers who issue street and walkway related fines, often have trouble determining if a resident is at fault, or if the often-overflowing trash cans are releasing waste with the help of the wind.
Williams said that if a person is fined for a trash-related issue that he or she disagrees with, the person should check off the box on the back of the violation notice and wait for a hearing to be scheduled. The hearing will determine whether the violation gets waived or enforced. Out of seven residents who have received trash-related fines, only one ended up having to pay it.
Are you fed-up with filthy Philly streets? Do you have a trashy (pun intended) story to tell? Tweet us @Philaneighbors and be sure to hashtag the name of your neighborhood.
By: Brittany Hahn