The streets of Philadelphia are rich in history and beautiful architecture, but it is hard to realize when every block is buried in litter.Sanitation is undoubtedly a problem in this city. Seeing piles of trash and plastic bags blowing in the wind every day is disappointing to me and many other Philadelphia residents. In 2017, 50,204 people submitted complaints about trash and dumping to the city’s 311 complaint system, which provides residents with city government information and a way to express concerns either over the phone or in person at its City Hall office.
The Philadelphia Streets Department is working on cleaning up, but response times to complaints could be slow, and people generally do not put much effort into keeping streets clean, which doesn’t help the problem.
On average in 2017, it took the Streets Department 15 days to resolve a 311 trash complaint. While waiting for the problem to be solved, residents still have to live amongst the garbage that is infesting their neighborhoods. This is why it is up to residents to do what they can to reduce litter and clean up their streets.
Although, the city is putting forth effort to encourage people to reduce their litter and waste. By 2035, Philadelphia hopes to be 90 percent “zero waste and litter-free,” according to the Streets Department. The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet was created to support this mission, and is composed of members of the city’s largest departments, City Council representatives and people who are invested in the community. The site “Clean PHL” was launched to assist residents with manifesting this zero waste mission. Its site hosts an index of the neighborhoods in Philadelphia with the highest concentration of litter and provides resources for residents on how they can do their part to keep their city clean.
The Streets Department also hosts an annual “Philly Spring Cleanup” in which people volunteer to either create or help complete projects in their neighborhood. In 2017, with the help of 20,625 volunteers, 649,000 pounds of trash were cleaned up. Although the 2018 cleanup already happened on April 14, it’s always appropriate to dedicate time to keeping the environment clean, no matter what time of year it is.
Individual efforts to reduce litter add up to make extraordinary differences. It’s important to remember that a person impacts their environment with each piece of trash they litter, just as with each thing they properly dispose of.
One issue is that it seems there are not enough trash cans on the sidewalks in every Philadelphia neighborhood. In Center City, it is pretty easy to find one on nearly every corner, but in West Philadelphia, for example, I have had to walk a couple of blocks holding trash in my hand before I could find a proper place to dispose of it. Typically, people aren’t as patient, and will resort to the easier option of tossing their trash on the ground and never thinking about it again.
Not only do people often litter, but they are also usually irresponsible with sorting their trash and recycling. As a result, more goes into a landfill than is necessary. If more people disposed of their waste properly, Philadelphia’s litter problem could be greatly reduced. It seems like a small step, but if every one of the city’s residents took this initiative, positive changes could be made.
It’s common knowledge that one can’t count on somebody else to fix a problem they created. However, by coming together and taking individual responsibility in helping Philadelphia to be a waste and litter-free city, serious efforts are being made to make that mission a reality.
Everyone should show respect to the city they live in by doing their part in ensuring its streets are free of anything that takes away from Philadelphia’s natural beauty.