Dear PoPville – Garbage Bags Overflowing in Garbage Cans

Dear PoPville,

I took this picture last night at 9th and S, NW. I usually see this happen at least once a month at this corner. Is it illegal? Not knowing who is doing it, is there anything to be done? That can is effectively filled until the next garbage day. Shouldn’t people be required to dump this much garbage at their residence?

Does anyone know who this should be reported to 311? DPW?

28 Comment

  • This happens at most of the cans that are close to our block (500 -600 block of Irving St NW). This is maddening. Not only that, some residents think it is okay to take bags of garbage and leave them sitting at the base of a tree (a tree for goodness sake!). Disgusting and lazy. I do say to call311 when you see this.

  • Probably illegal to dump household crap in public bin, but hey, at least they are tossing it away. Some of the citizens of this town can’t even bring themselves to do that, which gives cover for the Newts and Santorums of this land.

  • I see a simple solution.

    Have MPD open the bag, find a piece of mail, and start writing $500 tickets for illegal dumping. I think the problem would go away quickly.

    I’m not sure if this is done, but it should be.

    • Sounds like a simple solution doesn’t it.

      But it has been my experience for the last few decades DC government does few things right.

    • No let’s all bitch about people bitching about DC, instead of letting them know the right people who should be ticketing such matters.

      • It most likely would be DPW.

        That being said, it think this would be really hard to enforce unless you caught someone in the act. Just because there is a piece of trash in there with someone’s name and address on it, it doesn’t mean that the trash was dumped by that person. You would most likely end up with a department responsible for sifting through trash and ticketing people only to see 95% of those tickets overturned. And then you would probably be bitching about how DC is wasting money to pay people to sift through trash.

        • DPW has trash inspectors who can issue fines. My landlord sent out a notice warning us of fines if trash is left to pile up (some neighbors weren’t putting out their cans on trash day). Then there’s the story about the Dupont Circle woman who got fined for not recycling her homemade cat litter:

        • @ Metrofusion

          Right, but fining someone for putting the wrong items into their own trash container is a lot easier. As a property owner you have to abide by DPW’s rules – if your container is in violation (or the sidewalk in front of your property, since you are responsible for that space), then they will fine you. Since the containers on the corner are public property, you can’t really hold the owner responsible. So in order to fine someone for throwing household garbage into a trash can you would either need to see them do it or sift through the trash and find enough evidence to prove this was clearly a certain person’s trash – not an easy task, and most likely not at all cost effective.

          That being said, people shouldn’t be jerks and shouldn’t treat these like their personal garbage cans.

    • I believe DPW tickets for trash violations.

    • ah

      DPW does in fact do this. Couldn’t find the article, but there was an instance of someone getting a citation for putting some junk mail in a trash can (I think Woodley Park). Basically he took his mail to work, sorted through it, and dumped the junk in the can, and DPW easily found him and ticketed him.

  • Kalorini

    Also common at 17th and Kalorama. I’ve watched people leave their homes, cross the street, toss stuff in a bin, and walk right back inside. There are few things more disgusting than having to walk by your 3-day-old torn bag of cat litter and baby diapers disposed of improperly…

  • It’s illegal to dump household garbage in a street can, and DPW issues tickets: “SWEEP inspectors will issue tickets for violations such as using street litter cans for trash that should go in your own trash can . . . .” Call 311 to report it. I’m no expert; I just googled it. Not sure why OP didn’t, but now I’ve learned something.

  • Our next door neighbors in Bloomingdale (long time residents) do this ALL the time. I can’t make sense of it. I know they have the super cans at their house, I even see them use it sometimes, but several times per week they will bring out a tied up grocery store bag full of something and throw it in one of the corner public cans and ever so often when they think nobody is looking they bring out a big kitchen garbage bag. They even took the time to break the barrier off the top of the trash can so they could fit the big bags in there. If they have trash cans I don’ t get why they aren’t using them? I understand the mentality, it is inbred in DC to do what is right for you and forget the rest of the world but I don’t see what benefit they have for not using the super cans they have? I may be assuming wrong, I thought the trash pick up was a tax based service not a billed service………..

    • My guess is that it’s trash they want to get rid of ASAP–perhaps smelly trash. (Kalorini notes that her neighbors like to dispose of cat litter and used diapers in the street trash cans, rather than using their own residential trash cans like they’re supposed to.)

      When I see street trash cans overflowing with what looks to be household trash (like one on the north side of the 1700 block of Columbia Road NW, just east of 18th Street), I tend to assume that there are apartments nearby with sneaky landlords who refuse to hire a private trash service and instead tell their tenants to put their trash in the street trash cans. But it sounds like that’s not the case with your neighbors, and presumably not Kalorini’s neighbors either.

      I’ve occasionally thrown a partly-full kitchen-sized garbage bag into a street trash can… but that’s because when I go down the street picking up litter, it always ends up being too much for a single small bag. 🙁

      • Yep, sneaky landlords who don’t pay for trash service. On my stretch of 14th Street the streetcorner trashcans are always overflowing, and I know that lots (most?) of the businesses have semi-legal apartments above.

    • slow your roll, it’s not inbred in DC…. it’s the way of this entire country to be self absorbed….. that’s how we do it in America, don’t get it twisted

      • Slow YOUR roll and untwist it, back it up and reverse it. (Missy Elliott style)

        Issue 1: You say that’s how we do it in America, DC is part of America therefore you agreed to what I said which makes your comment moot.

        Issue 2: you said “we”, I am part of we and I do not now, nor have I ever thought that way. I was raised in a community where you learn to respect yourself and those around you. You consider your actions and how they may reflect on others. You help make good rules by voting and you follow them, you don’t try to cheat the system and make sure you get yours at any cost. That is the America I live in, may be you should visit it.

        ~The Dali Lama of Bloomingdale

    • It really gets in my craw when dog owners put their poop bags in the public trash cans, too.


  • I’ve had my garbage container taken several times and refuse to pay the city for a replacement. I’ve spoken to the garbage collectors themselves, and they told me it was OK to leave the trash bag by the curb in the morning of collection. Of course, some overzealous neighbor does not like this and then passively-aggressively moves the garbage to the door (which belongs to my landlady, not myself), and it goes uncollected. Unfortunately, this prompted me to start using the street can. I hate doing it and I know it’s wrong, but I’m sick of paying for replacement bins.

    • ah

      Why don’t you aggressive-aggressively put your trash bags in their trash bin? Putting aside dog poop, I wouldn’t be terribly troubled by putting trash in the bin once it’s out and assuming space is available.

  • We moved to Shaw after Christmas and have been waiting one month for the government to deliver our trash cans. I have called and emailed repeatedly, mailed the check, etc etc. Until the city brings us our can, I have carried our trashbags to the public bin on the corner. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than putting our trash in someone else’s can, which I think everyone here agrees is not a good option. So I do apologize, neighbors, but I am temporarily guilty of this.
    Hurry up with my cans, DPW!

  • About twice a month I pick up trash from the sidewalk and curbs on my block, bag it up and dump it in the public can at the end of the street. I usually fill 2 garbage bags. So even though I am taking up space in the public garbage can, this is trash from the street (which should have been placed in the public can to begin with) and I am doing a community service so I don’t feel bad about clogging the can two days a month. I’d be pretty pissed if someone reported me and I got a ticket for doing something nice for my neighborhood, and would absolutely stop picking up trash. So I just hope that before anyone calls the cops they are sure someone else isn’t doing the same thing as me (vs. just dumping their own garbage in the public can)

    • I’m in the same boat, picking up litter in the public space in and around our home on 13th Street — sometimes filling two or three large trash bags. Oh the joys of living near a couple of schools and some neighbors who just don’t give a sh!t. I’m sorry but these bags aren’t going in my city issued bins.

  • That is already the case. If they find your address in a bag like this, they will give you a $35 ticket first (I think) and each time it increases (I think). But I know for sure they do ticket, just not the cost (that is, if they decide to find your address).

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