Tons of Trash at Cherry Blossom Festival


Thanks to a reader for sending the photo above that was taken this morning:

“Trashy Blossoms on the Mall”

The Washington Post reported on Sunday:

“Officials, he said, “weren’t adequately” prepared for what he described as record crowds for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, though he didn’t have a precise number of visitors. Thousands arrived early, which caused a quick pileup of trash, and trucks had a difficult time getting through the crowds and to the packed sidewalks to pick up waste.”

23 Comment

  • People could always, you know…not throw their trash away if the can is already full.

    • Tourists SMH

    • I fault not individuals so much as the bus tours. If you’re distributing snacks and water bottles from those big cardboard boxes, and trash cans are full like this, then collect your group’s trash in those boxes and throw it away at your depot.

  • This weekend also highlighted the need for recycling on NPS land. A big portion of the trash was water bottles. It wouldn’t have solved this problem, which went well beyond what having some extra collection cans would solve, but it does show how much trash is potentially reclaimable.
    [commence flaming about pros and cons of recycling]

  • justinbc

    I honestly expected the photo to be a lot worse. This looks like every major festival / inauguration / 4th of July / etc aftermath in DC. Lots of people create lots of trash, of course it’s not picked up hourly.

    • It was worse than this photo. Not only were there tons of boxes piled up around all the cans, but it had blown everywhere (windy yesterday). Seemed like there was strewn trash up and down the entire mall.

      Also, it appeared to me that a lot of the trash was from the food truck/vendors. The trash piles were heaped up on stacks of empty merchandise boxes.

  • I realize it’s not very convenient, but if there isn’t any more space in the trash can, is it really that hard to just hold onto your trash until you find an adequate place to toss it? I mean, we’re talking about candy wrappers and empty water bottles, not 20 lbs trash bags. Just because you place something next to the trash can doesn’t mean it will stay there, and it really slows the trash guys down if they have to pick up a bunch of individual pieces as they go around emptying the cans.

    • You would’ve had to walk miles and miles out of your way this weekend to find an adequate place to toss it. The crowds were bigger than I’ve ever seen them before.

      • While I can almost agree with the “it’s the fault of the people who threw their trash into an already-full trashcan” complaints, the fact of the matter is that this isn’t a random occurrence– It’s the Cherry Blossom Festival which attracts thousands every year. Walking around yesterday, you can’t help but notice there was only one trash can every 300-500 feet, so it’s no wonder the trash got out of hand. You would’ve had to walk to Arlington to find a trash can with room in it.

        This leads me to ask this question: Why are there no public trash cans in DC? Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but not a huge one. I live in Logan Circle and I could walk 4 blocks in any direction from my apartment and not see even one public trash can. Hell, I think on my 8-block walk to work, I maybe see one public trash can. Is it a security thing? Pest control? I don’t get it. And now for the “woe is me” part of this: if you have a dog, you are doomed to carry around the bag of dog poop for all of eternity if you take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Not to mention that public areas (such as Shaw Recreation Area) are pretty much giant trash heaps. Sure, some of it is from jerks who throw trash out of their car, but I can’t help but wonder if there were ample trash receptacles, if the city wouldn’t be a little bit cleaner.

        • This comment (and the post) reminded me of a little fact that I read about Disney World. Walt Disney put trash bins every 30 steps or so (or something like that) because he noticed that was about as far as anyone would walk carrying their trash before they just litter.

          Basically, Anonymous @ 2:06 is right.

  • This is not the fault of the park service or any waste management team. This is 100% the fault of the people.

    • Revising my previous statement: There are empty 24 packs of water and soda in the picture and referenced in the Post article. Those would not have come from an individual. No way anybody was carrying that around while seeing the sites. Probably came from one of the many food trucks or temporary refreshment stands that were posted up on the sidewalks. They’re also to blame for all this.

    • Wrong. This could’ve been prevented with the addition of many more temporary trash receptacles.

  • I have a hard time believing that the NPS didn’t expect there to be a lot of garbage. The Cherry Blossom Festival brings tons of people to the city every single year, so this can’t be that much of a surprise. There were a number of cardboard garbage receptacles around, so the NPS had planned on more garbage than usual.

    Honestly, I just felt embarrassed walking around DC and seeing so much garbage everywhere. People from all over the world come to DC, and now their take away is that the city can’t keep its act together and empty garbage cans in a timely fashion.

    • EXACTLY.

      I mean, we have a count down from 6 weeks out predicting when peak bloom will occur. How is it a surprise that there were huge crowds for this weekend?!

    • But it’s the people from all over the world who are flinging garbage everywhere. If anyone should be embarrassed, it’s the garbage flingers, not the ones who can’t keep up with trashy behavior. There’s really no excuse for stuffing case size containers in public trash cans. Food trucks should also make arrangements for handling the trash that will be associated with their businesses. People with water bottles should hold onto them. It sucks that all these people who come to enjoy the beauty of the blossoms can’t seem to do so in a respectful and responsible way.

      • Nobody is “flinging garbage everywhere.” They’re actually using the trash cans like they’re supposed to but somehow the world’s most powerful country can’t find a way to remove it efficiently. Swarms of people will create tons of trash, this isn’t anything new and it’s swiftly dealt with in many cities around the world.

        Most European city parks would never look like this, and people there “fling trash around” (aka throw it in the can) there too.

      • It’s the same mentality for people who throw cig butts out of their car window, except in this case it’s the size of a water bottle!

    • YES, I was there early morning and NPS had not even begun to empty the bins and crowds were already arriving in force. It was disgusting and embarrassing. I can see a random protest or unscheduled event but come on this is an annual event and one of the largest tourism events in the city!

  • DC: The only place where “we weren’t ready” is an acceptable excuse to messing up your job. Remember Metro Spokesperson’s “well it’s Monday” comment?

  • This isn’t DC, this is Fedtown. NPS failed, DC did not. Would think a DC blog commenters would at least blame the right agencies.

    And let’s face it… NPS completely failed here.

    1) Buses tours should be regulated to take their trash with them when they leave.
    2) Food trucks should be forced to clean up their own trash.
    3) Temporary cans should have been in place (including recycling bins).
    4) Cherry Blossom Fest happens every year. Hire temporary workers to haul the trash ot a location that a truck can get to, and get the trash out.

    Ahh Feds… screwing up is what you do.

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