GARBAGE GAZETTEAs of last week, a new public garbage can sits on the northeast corner of Avenue Z and East 14th Street – and its presence gives us a new opportunity to study a budding theory about neighborhood litter.

It’s not the first time the corner has hosted a trash can. In July 2010, Department of Sanitation placed one at that corner in response to ongoing complaints about the trash overflowing on Sheepshead Bay’s retail corridors.

Around the same time, Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst asked the city to remove all the public trash cans from commercial streets. The idea was that people would hold on to their garbage until they get where they’re going, so public cans wouldn’t overflow and clutter the streets. According to early reports, the experiment worked and streets were cleaner within weeks; but, later, business owners gave it a thumbs down when the program expanded.

Back then, we asked a community leader if it would work in Sheepshead Bay. We were told that Sheepshead Bay “isn’t Park Slope,” and that folks would just dump their garbage on the street.

So when, in 2010, the garbage can appeared on East 14th Street and Avenue Z, we decided to keep an eye on it. That corner, after all, had never really had a trash problem. In fact, it was pretty well kept. Within days, though, the can was already overflowing, and after our second post documenting it, the can mysteriously disappeared – and so did the trash problem.

The new can was placed there sometime in the middle of last week. By Saturday, it looked like the photo above, in which it’s overflowing, and at least one coffee cup made its escape. By Monday, it looked like this:

The can is slated for pickup today, along with the rest of East 14th Street’s residential trash. We’ll continue to keep an eye on it, and report back to see if adding a trash bin means adding trash, or if the corner remains as clean as it ever was.

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  • Bruce B

    The problem with this idea of getting rid of garbage cans to make your immediate neighborhood cleaner is this: what if EVERY neighborhood starts doing it.

      For instance, when I walk from Mill Basin through the Marine Park neighborhood, you can go more than a mile without seeing a garbage can. I admit to having gotten frustrated, and dumped my trash in the gutter. I’m as patriotic as the next guy as far as holding onto my trash, but come on, for how long?

       The solution is more trash cans, or bigger trash cans, or more frequent pickup. 

        Getting rid of the trash cans to solve a trash problem is kind of like cutting down on crime by forcing people to stay indoors. It’s backwards logic (backwards logic is a huge problem in society today!)

    • levp

      We agree again!

      • Bruce B

        whaddaya mean again? bahaha. I’m gonna mark it on my calendar. Sure won’t fill up the calendar.

    • BrooklynBus

      The same thing will happen with the MTA’s experiment. There will be successful results until a certain point. Then the stations and tracks will get dirtier.

      Just came back from Chicagonand in downtown all they have is big belly garbage bins along with an enclosed recycling can and the streets are spotless. In other areas, most of the garbage cans are enclosed with a small hole to deposit trash. Even the open cans were lined with plastic bags. There wasn’t a single can like ours.

      Why does Bloomberg insist the big belly cans won’t work here?

      • Animo916

         I was recently at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Years ago I used to make pick ups and deliveries there.  It used to be a total and continuous pile of trash.  Now they have some Big Belly Cans there and the place looks pristine.  We all know Bloomberg is an asshole.  He thinks he can control our lives with his Nanny City.  Give us Big Belly Cans and watch the difference it makes.

    • Larry

      It used to be a theory that more roads meant less traffic because of increased capacity, but it turned out increased capacity led to more traffic since more people felt comfortable taking those roads. The same issue might apply to larger trash cans or more frequent pickups. Just food for thought.

      • Whwsailboat

        course! I generate much more trash because I see a place to put it. Imagine if
        NYC did away with the sanitation department. Our trash would disappear!


    • bagels

      Since I live in Marine Park I suggest you hold onto your trash until you cross the boundary into your own neighborhood. Thank you!

    • Ned Berke

      That’s really silly, Bruce. I’m actually surprised. What were you holding that was such a burden? And there were no businesses or something that you could stop into and ask to toss it there? Or a private residence that has their cans out front (I know some people hate this; I don’t care, so long as you throw it away in the proper receptacle).

      You know how I was taught not to litter? My mother would give me a good whack when I was child. And yell at me in front of everybody. It made such an impression that I don’t think there has been a single time in my life I’ve thrown trash in the gutter (save for a cigarette butt, but there are, uh, guiding principles to such things too). 

      • Bruce B

        you would actually walk into a store holding some filthy thing and ask a store to throw it in the garbage? Come on Ned, it’s YOU who’s being silly, if ANYONE here has ever done that, I’d like to hear it. You’re being high and mighty here.

           As far as private residences, they tie up their garbage in bags within the containers. I’m pretty sure I’m breaking the law by throwing garbage into such receptacle. Perhaps I should go into a store and buy a garbage  can?

           Don’t you dare imply I’m a litterer. From  what I see, I’m in the 1% of non-slobs in this neighborhood.

        • Ned Berke

          First of all, I’m high and mighty everywhere, buddy. And you remember that.

          Second – yes, I’ve gone into stores and thrown out my garbage there. No one has ever turned me away. Of course, this depends on what you’re throwing out – no, you can’t throw out a bag of dog poop. No, you can’t throw out your household trash. But a potato chip bag, a candy bar wrapper, a disposable cup from my hourly infusion of iced coffee? Yeah, I ask store owners if I can do this all the time, and they certainly prefer it to being tossed at the curb in front of their store.

          The law regarding garbage is that it be covered when put at the curb. The city defines a cover as either an actual lid, or that the top item be a tied bag. And, quite frankly, it’s not enforced either way, or else I’d get a ticket twice a week because of all the people who throw their trash on top of mine when it’s at the curb. 😉

          And I didn’t imply you’re a litterer. You said you littered. It surprised me, too.

      • Rberke

         I’m glad to know I made an impression….now watch your butts!  Better yet quite smoking!

  • Guest – Mike G

    The obvious problem is that the trash can’s aren’t being emptied as often as they should.  The people filling them up are doing their part in depositing the trash where it belongs, rather then the street.  The solution is to give them the opportunity to do it more often rather then less. I say if your excuse is you can’t afford to have garbage man come out more often, then put two, three, four trash cans out there.  Put out however many it takes to keep the street clean until a garbage truck comes by.  NOT LESS!!!

    The supposed solution of getting rid of the trash can means you are moving the problem elsewhere, rather then getting rid of the problem.  With less trash cans, the ones that were fine before will now start overflowing as well.

    • Animo916

       This is why the Big Belly cans work so well.  They compact the trash and therefore can store more garbage than a regular can, and won’t overflow due to the fact that the cans are not emptied as frequently as they should be.  I don’t know why DSNY doesn’t put the public cans on a pick it up when full schedule whether it is scheduled for pick up that day or no, regardless of whether it is on a truck’s route or not as well.  There are plenty of times I see a sanitation crew just drive down  a road and pass full cans as if they were invisible.

  • Andy

    it’s not the cans or lack thereof that present the problem, it’s the mindset or rather absent-mindedness of individuals that are supposed to use them. Emmons Ave this morning was a perfect illustration of this: half-empty trash cans every 20 yards or so, and the sidewalk littered with all kinds of trash imaginable: broken beer bottles, take out food boxes, plastic bags, etc.

  • Noname

    I think that there should be more signs. Maybe if that were to happen, people would take it into consideration and actually throw their garbage into the cans. But then again, I have seen so many people throw their trash on a the ground just inches away from a trash can. I know this is far-fetched but perhaps people should start getting tickets for littering. That way, the cops that just sit around in their cars will actually do something as well.

    • Ned Berke

      I have seen that, too. Personally, I think those who are going to throw it on the ground are going to do it one way or the other. Ninety-nine percent of those who would throw it in a trash can, though, will wait until there is one available, or, god-forbid, bring it home with them. I know I do.

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