Citizen complaint of the day: Don't make me leave raw feces in my trash

A South End resident complains about trash pickers constantly ripping up his or her trash bags:

We have had it with the city taking no action against trash pickers. 3 times today I had to go out, pick up, and rebag my trash due to pickers. Does the city want citizens to start taking the matter into our own hands? I'm not above starting to leave raw feces in each of my trash bags to deter them.



    Free tagging: 


    Not a deterrent

    By on

    Raw feces will not deter trash pickers. They are unperturbed by such things and often wear gloves.


    is the typical additive to keep animals away from trash.

    I second that

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    I put a tablespoon of ammonia in the trash bags sometimes to keep the vermin away. Rodents really hate it. No idea whether it keeps people away.

    Ooo Thank You!

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    Thank You!

    So going to do this to keep the vermin out of my trash barrels.

    I wonder if opening up the shopping bag I used to scoop the cat box and let that ammonia like smell would work also.

    Better off spraying

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    Better off spraying everything with ammonia. Keep critters and pickers at bay.

    Are Trash-Pickers a Nuisance?

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    The question is undeniably "Yes," BUT we should all be grateful for the fact that we don't have to rely on the refuse of others to survive. I live in the North End and the bottle-hunters are out in force every sunday/thursday nite, but I look at them with a greater sense of sympathy than disgust; which one of us would CHOOSE to rifle through garbage if it wasn't necessary to do so?

    Live and let live

    The people who dig through trash for a living don't bother me, but I want them held to the same standard of public behavior as anyone else: clean up after yourself and don't strew garbage around the street.


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    What type of comment is that?

    Bottle Bill

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    Meanwhile we have an referendum this November to expand the bottle bill, which will only make things worse.

    Anybody who's spent time living in a non-bottle bill state (like New Jersey or California) in the past 15 years will likely tell you that a bottle bill is unnecessary, and an expanded bottle bill is insanity.

    Back in the 1980's consumer recycling was a painful process which required taking long trips on Saturday mornings to faraway recycling centers. Today most people have curbside recycling. Repeal the bottle bill (replace it with a small, nonrefundable container fee if you like) and rely more on curbside recycling and good things will happen for both Mass residents and the envionment.

    Bottle bill helped reduce

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    Bottle bill helped reduce littering but created trash pickers. Pick your poison.

    Origins of trash pickers

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    The bottle bill most definitely created trash pickers around here. Growing up in East Boston in the 60s and 70s I never saw a single trash picker until the bottle bill was passed circa mid 70s and overnight there were seemingly hundreds of them that looked like they came out of nowhere. As a youngster it struck me as a bit strange that they would suddenly show up like that.

    Then there is the other level of trash pickers who have trucks looking for large metal items and such. They have a whole other scene going. It's amazing how fast they show up when somebody puts something out that they can use for their purposes.


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    We've already done that experiment - there's no deposit on water bottles, ice tea, juice, etc. Take a walk wherever you like and tell me you don't see water bottles and the like EVERYWHERE. So go away with your "good things will happen" crap - we're seeing too much of those "good things" right now.

    And I saw can pickers where there is no deposit.

    Tacoma Washington has some really hurting trash wanderers and they gathered cans for the aluminum. There wasn't a deposit.

    Here in Inman there are waves passing through daily, almost hourly and they range from really damaged winos to immigrant grandmas out trying to make a contribution.

    The efficient, smart ones just work the tubs we have in the neighborhood. Rummaging through actual trash smacks of desperation.

    But all world class cities have their itinerant rag pickers and scavengers. It's just the sterile self conscious backwaters that care about this shit.

    Hell but for the grace of Sky Thing, it could be you.

    We do..

    ..and have done so forever.

    One of the more fun adventures I had as a kid was finding yard middens in the woods to get the old bottles.

    There are even shell middens along the Ipswich River that predate euromutts.

    The Herald commentariat that bothers this thing just reflexively carps about anything more thoughtful or progressive than Conan the Barbarian, their main role model.


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    is a bottle bill state, more or less. Except in CA a) the deposit is not flat, it varies based on the size of the bottle and b) you have to take no more than 50 of your bottles to a private recycling center in order to get your deposit back.

    There are no recycling machines in the supermarket or liquor store, and if you bring more than 50 to the private recycling center, you don't get your deposit back, you get back the market rate for the scrap materials you're providing. It is not a user-friendly system for everyday people who just want their deposit back.

    I'm Feeling

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    Thankful that the trash pickers in my neighborhood recognize that we use our recycling bins for recycling and there isn't anything they're interested in in our trash.

    Some of them won't go through our big bins because they're just that much of a pain in the butt to do so (and they're a bit short to reach into those big bins). So I've taken to putting the "nickels" into a separate paper bag and put it beside the recycling bin for our locals. Symbiotic relationship and all.

    Doesn't matter

    if they kick your trash bag and THINK something SOUNDS like a bottle or can, they'll rip it open - even if there is nothing in there.

    This is why we ned to get rid of the bottle bill - we all recycle now...


    By on

    Put your recyclables in a bag next to the trash can. They don't bother your trash.


    Your trash pickers are much more trusting than mine. The ones in the North End will grab my nice, neat bag of bottles and then tear into every other bag just in case.

    Plus if picker #1 takes the

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    Plus if picker #1 takes the neat bag of bottles, when picker #2 comes down the street a few minutes later he will have no idea.

    beware the gulls

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    is this person sure it wasn't wandering seagulls?
    the pickers I saw when I lived in the North End were consistently neat enough about how they did it and nothing ever looked out of place or spilled about.

    but those a-hole gulls, on the other hand...

    Yes but..

    ..they aren't as convenient to focus animosity on for the angry white guy circuit.

    My dad had a wild critter rehab facility on his land years ago.

    He'd take care of injured hawks and so on that Mass Audubon sent him and he had a few raccoons. They are really smart and can figure out simple locks like a hook and eye or a slide bolt.

    And the place where I grew up in Reading had an old fashioned garbage pail in a buried concrete cylinder with a steel lid that opened when you stepped on the lever.

    The raccoons had teamwork for this problem. One would sit on lever while the other would 'dumpster dive and fish the edibles out.

    Easy solution

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    So these "trash pickers" make a living on picking your trash. Ok, is that so bad? Because I cannot get to the recycling station as often as I would like, I pull all the valuable disposables out (and put them in a separate bucket) for those who will take them and bring them to the recycle station. If they can get 5 or 10 cents per bottle, what is the problem to you? This may be their only income. Would you rather them go on Welfare on your dime? Have a heart for these entrepreneurs, dude.

    I feel for the people who are

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    I feel for the people who are trash pickers. I work in the South End and walk around a lot on my breaks. I see a lot of older immigrants who don't speak English and probably don't have any other way to make money doing this, along with some people I know are homeless.

    It really is annoying though. It's definitely a sanitary issue. But I think it's largely due to how Boston makes people bag their trash and put it out on certain hours, and also how long it takes the trash trucks to make their rounds. There are also plenty of careless residents who ignore rules. There's also the problem of passerby dumping random stuff on top of ripped open bags. The Big Belly trash cans are awful and there aren't enough public trashcans around residential streets like Shawmut Ave and Worcester Square. Hence the whole neighborhood becomes a trash can. It's not that it makes it ok, but I swear, as soon as people see garbage on the sidewalk, they're way less apt to find a trash can to dispose of their refuse themselves.

    I have some people who go around collecting recycling from my neighborhood in Area IV in Cambridge now and it hasn't really been a problem because we use large covered trash bins instead of leaving bags on the sidewalk. I honestly don't know what Cambridge's trash collection policy is because I rent and the property management company deals with putting out the trash, but my neighborhood is really pretty clean.

    There's gotta be a better system.


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    Put your bottle/cans out in a separate bag. It doesn't take a whole lot more effort on your part, it saves the trash pickers the effort of shaking down bags, and you save yourself the task of rebagging your trash and sweeping up the sidewalk. Seems like an easier deterent than shitting in your garbage. Just sayin...

    Putting cans in a separate

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    Putting cans in a separate bag is a great idea. The only problem is that the first can collector who comes along takes the bag with the cans but every can collector who comes along after that doesn't know that all the cans have already been taken and then goes through the recycling and trash.


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    Return your bottles and get your freaking money back. Take the barrels to the curb in the morning on trash day, don't leave them overnight for the pigs to rifle through. Nothing for them to take so hopefully they'll disappear.


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    So now the 2 or 3 porcine pets that (including the ever dapper Bobby) are being let out at night to forage for returnables and food? You are not referring to people as pigs and hoping that poverty will just disappear if you time your trash placement for the night before. Novel approach for such a big problem

    The problem with leaving a

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    The problem with leaving a separate bag is the next picker comes along not realizing someone else has been there and rips open your bags anyway.

    Put trash & recycling out early

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    Do what the City asks residents: Put your trash and recycling out ON THE MORNING of your pick-up day to reduce vermin and scavengers. It really does make a difference if your stuff is outside just a few hours before pick-up vs. all night. If the complainer is cleaning up the street three times it's because his/her trash was out way-too-early. And separate recycling from trash; if there's nothing in your trash bag that clinks like bottles and cans when poked, the bag doesn't get ripped open. Use clear bags or blue bins for recycling (as the City specifies) so pickers can see what's in them without ripping them open.

    What about using a barrel instead

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    Yes, I get it that apartments in the South End don't have a lot of space, but you don't need a 45 gallon barrel. It doesn't solve the human raccoon problem, but at least the garbage at the end will be contained.

    Of course, my garbage man doesn't even lift my barrel, opting instead to pick the bags up from the barrel, which would make the barrel option not too good.

    Having a toddler and leaving a barrel out by the street has lessened the desirability of my garbage. The top of the bag has diapers (in a separate bag, but smell able) and bags of dog poop.

    Additional problem with a barrel

    Is that for me presonally I leave way before trash collection is done. I am then gone for 12-14 hours. In that time everyone walking by my place feels as if the barrel is their own personal trash disposal container and I come home to a partially filled container. Can't win for trying.

    However I put out my trash/recycling in the morning and I don't beleive it is out no more than 3-4 hours and usually less than an hour. (times measured over the years when I took a day off.) Cuts down the access the pickers have.

    barrel problems

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    I leave the barrel by my fence to encourage people to put their trash in it, rather than on the ground, but that is just me. It still doesn't work, except for the dog owners.

    The barrels do clog the sidewalks, which is another issue. Thankfully, I have lived in places where nice/busybody people put people's barrels in yards or driveways, but without either, they stay out there until you come home.

    Anyone consider

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    Not for nuthin......There are actual human beings who come to our streets and neighborhoods to remove all of our refuse. And we are suggesting animal feces and/or ammonia as yet another gross additive to our already foul soup of garbage? Amazed that not anyone in this long thread mentioned this

    Understand the citizen's complaint

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    The people who are the target of the ire of the citizen are befouling the neighborhood. Personally, I have no problem with people poking through garbage, identity thieves aside, but they are making a mess. Why should the citizen have to leave their house to pick up the trash they very nicely put out in bags. Seriously, you wouldn't be just a little bit upset if would went outside an hour after you put your trash out to find it strewn all over the place?

    Read what people have to write about dog owners. Or bicyclists. Or car drivers. Yet, there is nothing wrong with owning a dog, riding a bicycle, or driving a car per se. It is actions of some of these people that cause people on this website to write less than charitable things about them.

    Also, I don't think the citizen said anything about animal feces, but if you are thinking about the garbage men, they deal with animal feces all the time.

    Not that there are any can pickers reading this

    But what I don't understand is why I have constantly pick up the beer cans that the drunks leave on the street. If I am busy they are there 2-3 days (mind you I live within 100 feet of 50 other people and it wouldn't occur to most of them to pick them up). How is it that there aren't pickers to take these?


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    i have the same trashpicker in my neighborhood every week. he's spoken to me in his broken english. "i'm from brazil" he said. i can't imagine what sort of life he must have left behind only to come here to be picking through our trash. :( i have a lot of empathy for him and sometimes just hand him cash. doesn't stop him from picking through the trash, but at least he's kind and neat about it. try and think about this from their perspective, while the mess can be a nuisance it's a first world problem in the grand scheme of things. try and have some compassion?

    Put your bottles out separately!

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    When I lived in the S end, I only put trash out the morning of pickup and even then, I separated bottles and put them in a clear bag to save trash pickers the trouble. If people make their living this way, and want to recycle for me, then great.