New Endangered Species in Bostondigitalcity
And we're not talking owls
by: Stephen Puibello
Reprinted with permission of Digital City Boston/America Online

How many times have you looked to throw away a candy wrapper, a cup from the morning coffee, a newspaper or maybe even a plastic bag of dog poop (that you so nicely picked up after your dog), only to find no litter basket anywhere to dispose of it?

Litter baskets -- the cylindrical shaped devices that allows us a means to throw away litter -- are at the top of the endangered species list. Not the same list that includes our fluffy, little, bird friend the Golden Cheeked Warbler, but rather a list of the city service problems that endanger our species -- the inhabitants of Boston.

Litter baskets are designed for smaller, everyday garbage but often become the home of residential household trash -- referred too, if caught, as "improper storage of household trash," a $25.00 fine in Boston. Boston Public Works, in an effort to prevent misuse of Boston litter baskets, removed most litter baskets in the city, reasoning that without baskets people would not improperly dispose of household trash. This swift thinking on the part of Boston Public Works, makes residents efforts to maintain clean streets almost impossible, unless we decide to hold onto our daily litter until we arrive home.

This problem isn't Boston's alone, other cities have had the same issues; the only difference is that other cities have looked into better ways of collecting trash. Rather then remove litter baskets, the city can design them with tops that only allow certain items. The city of Toronto has litter baskets with such tops -- equiped with small round holes that only a person's hand can fit into, preventing someone from throwing a hefty bag of trash into it, while a rectangular slit suggests that you dispose of the daily newspapers.

How many times have you noticed overflowing litter baskets? Ever wonder how many times these baskets are maintained in the course of a day?

If the litter baskets are in a residential neighborhood, they are collected once a day. If the litter baskets are in a commercial area of town they are supposed to be emptied every two to three hours, including weekends. If you notice an overflowing litter basket and would like to see it emptied, call the Mayor's 24 hour hotline at635-4500.The folks answering the phones are pretty good at reporting your complaint to the proper department.

A few months back in the South End a group of local artists held a Trash Can Ball to raise both funds and awareness about the lack of litter baskets in their community. This community dance sent a strong message to its community leaders, as do so many of our 200-plus neighborhood organizations.

Hood Resources can help you get involved within your community. Check for information about your district. Here you can find phone numbers, fax numbers and where to send letters for your city Councilor and for the Neighborhood Services Representative, a department of the Mayors office.

Please answer these questions via email to BackBayNAG (the Neighborhood Guy). Share your comments with me via my Hot Topics message boards.

1. Would you be in favor of more litter baskets on our streets?

2. Do you consider Boston streets to be clean?

3. Do you think the fines mentioned are steep enough?

4. In the past month how many times have you walked around Boston?