It’s Gotta be Bad to Take These Measures

IMG_0428, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I found this up in Brightwood. I respect the folks who put this out there because it must be a pain to empty. But I still think it’s sad that it is necessary, otherwise folks would just litter.

On a related matter, I was sitting on my porch drinking a beer with a neighbor when a car pulled up and was idling next to my house. The woman driving the car unwrapped a cd cover, opened her door and just threw the garbage on the street. Obviously this isn’t a mortal sin but it still really bothered me. I was staring at the car in disbelief. I was debating whether to knock on her window or do nothing. In the end I simply walked over very deliberately and picked up the trash and sorta shook it before putting it in my pocket. I’m a firm believer of picking battles and I think I was able to make my point without making a scene. Still very frustrating though…

38 Comment

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I suppose I deserve that but the incident is really freaking bothering me. I’d like to know what can be done to make littering less socially acceptable?

  • the golf clap is a positive thing for a gentlemanly act

  • first thing that comes to mind is the metro PSA, “Politely ask: Excuse me, is that your trash” in lieu of bag.

    maybe suggest littering raises city taxes? costing them more… does that have any truth?

  • The unfortunate reality is to get 99% of the folks who drop trash out of their cars to stop doing it you would have to smash their windshield in with a baseball bat and then explain to them why you did it.

  • yeah, this definitely called for the golf clap.

  • I’m with ontarioroader on this one, and not with our PoP.

    I have been sweeping and cleaning up other people’s trash, litter, diapers, car batteries, and other things I’d rather not describe, in front of, and behind my row houses since the 1960’s.

    I feel I may be getting old, 😉

    and I really don’t want to seem a grouchy, gottcha landlord, but to bring this into a historical perspective;

    I remember a time very well here in our nation’s capital when drinking alcohol in public (even visibly from the street on one’s own front porch) was not only looked down upon, but actually illegal.

    It’s been a downward slide ever since, and it seems today any callous behavior has become not only tolerated and acceptable, but sadly commonplace.

    I continue to labor on, tolerate, hope and pray the pendulum only sweeps back to civilized urban and urbane Washington city living within my lifetime.

  • Remember Woodsy Owl? Give a hoot, don’t pollute? Our neighborhood needs a reminder that littering is a bad thing and a you don’t ever want to be called a litterbug. It was a very effective PSA when I was a kid.

  • PoP it’s no-goods like you drinking beer in public that are dragging this city downhill.

  • @ Andy– I honestly hope that was a joke. PoP enjoying a beer on his porch with a neighbor is not what is dragging this city downhill. Violence, corruption, public school system woes, street harassment–these are all some of the many things dragging our city downhill. The guy lounging on the street corner making obscene gestures and vulgar come-ons at me makes me feel unsafe–not a guy like PoP enjoying a beer on his porch with a neighbor.

  • Bring back the Crying Indian.

  • I always worry when I see someone pick up litter with their bare hands, because who knows what is on it. Please, just be careful if you do something like that.

  • If I’m walking behind someone who throws down some trash, I usually pick it up and run up to them, “Excuse me! I think you dropped something!” as if it were something important. About half the time they just throw it back down, but at least half the time they don’t? Plus if they are with someone they always get laughed at. Maybe it will teach them a lesson.

  • Well at least I now know what a “golf clap” is. The things one learns…

  • New Hampshire, at some point back when I was a wee lad, instituted extreme littering fines, and littering apparently dropped precipitously. I notice from: that littering fines in D.C. are about half of what I remember NH’s being back in 1999.

    At one point in the ’90s, while engaged in an unrelated “police action” (buddy getting a speeding ticket), a friend accidently dropped something, and the officer said, “Better pick that up, or you’re subject to a $200 fine.”

    I bet if police even started enforcing the law as it is, then maybe some habits would change. Then maybe I’d stop seeing kids drop Doritos bags three feet from a trashcan.


  • Also, I love this:

    “Council Member Jim Graham took issue with the extra fine for falsifying information.

    “”I always keep in mind that 25 percent of the people in Ward 1 live below the federal poverty level,” Graham said. “It’s easy for us to say, you know, it’s (just a) $250 fine. But a $250 fine for people who are scraping to make ends meet, on any given day or week, is something that needs to be approached with very considerable care.”

    Pretty obvious solution: Don’t f*cking litter.

  • I think the correct response would be to pick it up, hand it to them and politely say – “be a part of the solution, not the problem”. Even if they do not take the trash back or throw it back down, that statement means something.

  • whats with all this hoping and praying on litter… that is not helping.

  • I would have handed it back to her and let her know that trashing the neighborhood is inappropriate. Common courtesy goes a long way. People act like swine up in down the city. I saw an older gentleman chastise a guy for throwing a bag down on Mt. P. The guy picked it up and put it in the trash.

    Don’t get me started on folks who dump furniture on the highway.

    I agree w/ springroad.

  • @dittle you live in a dream world if you think saying to a someone “be a part of the solution, not the problem” is going to make the clouds part and butterflies sing. littlering is a socioeconomic thing. this is all learned behavior and it’s starts in the home.

  • I was taking the 14th street bus to work one morning, and sitting near a little girl (8ish) accompanying her littler brother (5ish). No adults. The little boy finished his Twinkies, or whatever he was eating for breakfast (yes, on the bus). He handed the plastic wrapper to his sister, who opened the window and tossed it. Then she gave him a bottle of pepsi, which he finished off, and she tossed the bottle too. Then she very sweetly wiped the crumbs off his face and adjusted his coat, and they got off at the next stop.
    To me, that little vignette said so much. That’s what Derek’s kids (from the other post) have to look forward to: growing up too soon, in a world where no one will teach them anything positive– from the importance of a good breakfast, to the reasons why you shouldn’t eat on the bus or litter. All they will learn is the negative stuff– folks are out to get you, no one understands, protect yourself, etc etc. That’s why I didn’t say anything. Some random white gal on the bus, no matter how well intentioned, is probably the opposite of what they’re being raised to respect.

  • WDC: Well said.

  • What’s frustrating is that you can walk several blocks without seeing a trash bin. (At least in Bloomingdale/Eckington) This encourages littering – I litter from time to time as well because of this. I don’t want to walk several blocks to find a trash can. There should be a trash can on every street corner as part of the solution.

  • As far as trash from cars, in my experience, it’s the cab drivers who are always dumping their lunch containers out in front of my house.

  • What is it about this city that turns everyone into some self-appointed police brigade?

  • Ugh ugh ugh ugh…

    I still have not adapted to the waste situation in this city. What frightens me is that DC is one of the cleanest cities I’ve seen in the U.S. I have tons of stories similar to WDC’s about all sorts of folks in DC, but what it comes down to is all about respect and a sense of community. Knowing people who live near you should really cut down on general assholery, but it’s a two-way thing–one person can’t do it for the entire community.

    Germany is pretty clean. They recycle. All waste bins have several options to sort your disposables–trash, paper, metal, plastic, etc. They drink alcohol on the trains, even, and generally seem to have respect for their community and the people in it. In Nova Scotia, they go further–they have mandatory composting! Gasp! Both have fines for sorting improperly and/or littering. But it’s a cultural thing–it’s just something you do, because it’s disrespectful not to.

    So, PoP, drink on!

    I think we need to resurrect Captain Planet, don’t you?

  • “I always worry when I see someone pick up litter with their bare hands, because who knows what is on it.”

    I do it every single day on my street. I also touch doorknobs at stores, use public restrooms, and walk into my house with THE SAME SHOES that I walked outside on the dirty, infected sidewalk with!!

    Seriously, in the realm of dangerous things you can do, this has got to be pretty much at the bottom of the list. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone contracting a disease from picking up trash. The person who touched it before you also touches doorknobs, you know. Either nothing is safe, or, perhaps, you are most likely going to live when you leave your home.

  • “@dittle you live in a dream world if you think saying to a someone “be a part of the solution, not the problem” is going to make the clouds part and butterflies sing. littlering is a socioeconomic thing. this is all learned behavior and it’s starts in the home.”

    I pick up trash around my home all the time. If the problem is trash on our streets, then picking up trash near your home absolutely contributes to the solution.

    No, you can’t change others’ behavior. You can, however, pick up trash and keep your own street clean. If even 1 in 20 people picked up the trash on their block when they walked down the street, an effort that takes about 2 minutes every couple days, every single part of DC would be clean. Problem solved. Just because people will still throw trash on the sidewalk doesn’t mean we all have to live with trash around our homes.

    So yes, if you refuse to pick up trash near your home just because you didn’t leave it there, then you are contributing to the problem of trash on your street by doing nothing about it.

  • Littering is just one of the activities that many long-time Petworth residents enjoy.

  • NAB, I’d say it’s the need (that turns people into “self-appointed police brigade”). Folks misbehave. The cops do nothing. It impacts my quality of life. I need to take matters in to my own hands. Is this difficult logic to follow?

    What’s funny is that there are just as many people on here saying things like “quit bitching and DO something about it”. And when they do, here you are, chastising them for it.

  • Want to get rid of 90% of DC’s empty bottles, cans, and snack bags? Tell the Council you want a bottle bill and a snack tax. This will never happen in DC because the snack and bottle lobbys lay down the cash every election cycle. And it also requires the eunuchs on the council to grow a pair, which is about as likely as finding rainbow-farting unicorns doubleparked on Sunday in front of the churches.

  • How would adding a tax to snacks prevent people from tossing the trash? Just because your doritos are more expensive doesn’t seem to add any incentive to dispose of the trash properly. Unless there’s a refund on doritos bags, which I’ve never heard of.

    I am totally with you on the bottle bill, though. Where I grew up a bottle bill passed when I was a kid and within 6 months every bottle and can was gone. Because even if it doesn’t stop people from littering, it causes other people to collect them for the cash.

    I can’t imagine why we passed a shopping bag tax (which I think is pretty stupid and very untested) but we can’t seem to muster a bottle bill which has been proven remarkably effective in many other states.

  • If your Rap Snacks are prohibitively expensive, you’re less likely to spend money on them in the first place. Hence, fewer wrappers. So you get less trash, less junk food, fewer fatties tossing trash off the bus. The law of unintended consequences dictates that this, combined with midnight basketball, would create a class of healthy athletic criminals who can see in the dark. But you can’t make an omlette…

  • The real trash in this town isn’t on the ground – it’s walking and driving around throwing garbage everywhere. Sadly, there is little you can do about it. And I don’t know what cities Kenneth is spending his time in – Detroit? Newark? Cleveland? But DC is FAR from the cleanest city in the country, and if you take out the Mall and downtown, it’s one of the most depressingly filthy places around.

  • and guess what folks? winter time is coming..its just gonna get worse!

  • Ohhhh lordy, please don’t tax my rap snacks! Will someone please think of my 5 children?

  • nice 🙂

  • yes. i was kidding.

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