Garbage takes the path of least resistance

Trash atop a Dig box on Congress Street

Cynthia Donovan reports that now that people are once again using the tops of news boxes to avoid the onerous task of taking their lunch detritus back to their office trash cans, now that the city has removed all the BigBelly trash containers along Congress Street on the South Boston side of Fort Point Channel. Sounds like a district in need of some innovation when it comes to trash.

Photo posted under this Creative Commons license and in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.



    Free tagging: 


    As a member of our society I

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    As a member of our society I have an obligation to participate and help care for our community and the environment, yet I did not pick up this unsightly trash. Instead I took a camera phone photo of the trash and shared it on Flickr.

    1. I didn't pick the trash up because I am recovering from a neck injury and have been advised not to carry things. (Everything goes in my pockets or a very dorky rolling bag. This particular trash would not fit in my pockets or bag.)
    2. I didn't pick up the trash because there was a banana on top -- and the smell of bananas gives me the dry-heaves.
    3. I didn't pick up the trash because - touching trash can be unsanitary - messy and gross-- especially food related trash. I lacked gloves, a trash bag and easy access to a hand washing facility.
    4. I didn't pick up the trash because after 16+ years of picking up random trash up and down Congress Street, I sick and tired of picking up the trash of others.
    5. I didn't pick up the trash because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that the recent removal of the trash cans from this portion of Congress Street, has resulted in people once again leaving their trash in inappropriate places.
    6. I didn't pick up the trash because I believe in the power of many voices joining together to bring a problem into the light and eventually working together to find a solution. Sometimes, documenting a problem helps. Sometimes documenting a problem makes others notice. I don't have a strong opinion on the type of trash receptacle that should be available to pedestrians on Congress Street. Before trash cans were installed, people left their trash on the news boxes. After the trash cans were installed people put their trash in the appropriate place. Once the trash cans were removed, people returned to the old habit of placing trash on and in the news boxes.
    7. I didn't pick up the trash because I failed to notice that the trash cans had been removed until the trash once again began piling up on the news boxes. I wanted to help others notice the problem. If more people notice, more will speak up - more will persuasively speak to those who are empowered to return trash cans to this block.
    8. I didn't pick up the trash because I wanted to waste 30 minutes on a Thursday afternoon kvetching about trash on the internet with strangers.


    Easy there

    Scratchie was just imitating any number of attack-anons who make this stock nasty comment any time somebody points out a problem or issue on Citizen's Connect.


    #2 banana peels!

    I also abhor the smell of banana peels, and a co worker of mine used to leave the peel in the trash in the office. Of course when I asked him never to leave things like that again in the office trash, he proceeded to leave one every day.

    Yogurt containers also give me the willies when left in the garbage in an office setting.

    For crying out loud , spill

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    For crying out loud , spill the drinks into the gutter, crush up the container and put it back in the bag with the other stuff, and carry it back whence you came.


    'tis not the Masshole way!

    Once a container is empty, it becomes too heavy to carry! It also heats to a temperature of umptybillion degrees! All garbage must immediately be thrown to the ground or out a car window. Ditto for the ciggies.

    No ashtrays, no trash bags eva! Out the window and over the shoulder and POOF no longer exists, amirite?


    I dunno

    The way some UH posters jump down people's throats for not picking up other people's garbage, I sort of got the impression that the "masshole way" was to pick up and dispose of whatever piles of festering garbage you happened across, and anyone who was reluctant to do so was a miserable selfish bastard.


    Not exactly true

    The Masshole way is that YOU should pick up all MY garbage, and not raise my taxes to clean up my mess, or otherwise complain that I made a mess.



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    I'm sure the seagulls around there made fast work of whatever food was left in that container.


    people avoid the big belly

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    people avoid the big belly containers anyway because the handles are disgusting - nobody's really going to use them until they can be opened
    using a foot pedal

    somebody got paid to design those things...

    and somebody else got paid to choose to purchase them


    There really needs to be a

    There really needs to be a motion-detector lid on these things. I don't want to touch them.

    The inner cynic in me has just realized that the Big Belly containers eliminate the ability for the can-pickers to come through and pull out the returnables. No more undesirables in desirable neighborhoods.

    When I realized this, I tried to find a non-belly container to dump my can, because I'm not trying to stop anyone from making a buck. No go. I ended up bringing the can back to my office, where at least the cleaners will get a shot at it (I know at least one of our cleaners collects the cans.)

    Simple is better

    You are suggesting making a solar powered, battery storage, electronically controlled, trash compactor yet more complicated? Legacy trash cans are more reliable, don't get hands dirty from touching handles, make loads lighter and easier to empty for workers, and allow for can redemption/recycling. This is one of the best examples of an excessively complicated and expensive "solution" to a simple problem, though I'm sure thousands of cell phone apps are in competition.


    Legacy trash cans

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    need to be emptied about five times as often. When the city was buying compactors at around $5k each they paid for themselves in months at busy locations like Newbury St. There was one crew doing nothing but emptying trash on Newbury St all day. Now a crew can cover a much larger area at a huge savings to the city.



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    they are broken or full 70% of the time. I'd rather the money go to jobs here than a company in VT anyways.

    Compacted trash is too heavy

    many times for workers to easily handle. Heavy weights discriminates against women for getting collection jobs. Remember back when trash compactors were the new kitchen appliance (1970's?)? Yeah, that never really caught on.

    People claim this savings or that savings to promote a cause all the time without doing a full accounting of all costs (purchase, maintenance of big bellies). This is one example. Another is the health benefits of bicycling. Is it a net gain when cyclists are unprotected and injured? Removing road capacity adds to traffic congestion and more unhealthy stress for a whole lot more people than get a little more exercise bicycling. This sounds like a net unhealthy outcome for the population, but never gets a full accounting.

    So, before claiming cost savings, tell us the annual repair costs, extra inventory to swap out failed units, and time/cost to drive around unbolting and swapping the failed solar bins. What's the MTBF, or is that a trade secret so municipalities can't calculate actual costs?



    Heavy weights discriminates against women for getting collection jobs.

    No, the perception that women can't lift is used to discriminate against women.

    Women seem to have no problem lifting and carrying children in child care places - a typical two-year-old can be 30-40 lbs.

    The fact is, the differences in frequent lifting ability are, on average, quite small. Like most differences between males and females. Also, people repeatedly lifting should not be lifting a lot of weight each time - male or female.

    This is bullshit.


    They do test you I believe.

    If you want a job opfot the city picking up trash, they make you take a physical and during that physical you have to pick up a certain amount of weight. Not sure if they still do that or not.


    That does make sense

    The fact remains that most women and most men have similar lifting abilities - the overlap is 75-90%.

    I would bet that it has more to do with who applies for these jobs - saying that women lack the lifting ability because you see few of them in these jobs is like saying that native-born and european immigrant workers lack that same ability because few take those jobs ...

    Maybe men don't do childcare jobs because they can't lift heavy kids all day, or nursing home jobs because they can't lift patients all day. Hmmm. See?


    This is the type of thinking

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    This is the type of thinking (handles being too unsanitary) that leads to numbsculls leaving their trash for someone else to pick up. Waahhh!!! the handle waahhh!!! Too dirty MOMMA!!


    I use them all the time. Any

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    I use them all the time. Any time I have trash and I'm near one of those I'll open it and use them, and I almost never get sick and certainly have never contracted an illness from one of these trash cans. People need to get their ideas of how germs work out of their head because they make no sense. There are not icky germs all over the handle that are gonna move through your fingers into your bloodstream and give you a heart infection that kills you. You have bacteria all over you, all the time. Your hands are already dirtier than everywhere else on your body except maybe your mouth and asshole. Wash your hands regularly and eat a healthy diet along with plenty of exercise and you will always be healthy unless you get AIDS.
    Stop visualizing bacteria because it's not good for mental health and it's also just plain wrong.

    Grow up. Being afraid of a garbage can handle is beyond childish and I have a hard time believing there are people who throw their trash on the ground because they're afraid of the gross handle on the solar trash cans.


    Sounds like a new Walsh initiative

    Well I donno. I live near high outsider foot traffic area and they buy coffee, lunch, and booze in the area. It seems like a certain portion need to dispose of their containers very soon after they are finished. And if there is no trash container within 8 feet they just choose the sidewalk or street. I have the priviledge of picking up what they leave on a regular basis.

    Oddly the city has choosen to put more big belly containers on the other side of the street (Cambridge St) where there is less foot traffic. I believe this is because the locations are more appealling to the advertisers and don't really address the need of trash disposal.

    I've asked once through the Beacon Hill Civic Association for more on the south side of Cambridge St, but it is my impression that the city files these requests in a big belly.



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    I put this in the same category with people who leave dog feces in bags out on the street, sidewalk or even tied to fences.
    There is no excuse for this. SLOBS.

    Notice how its in shadow

    Perhaps the solar powered Big Belly compactors fail to produce enough power on the shady side of streets. Next, besides foot operated door openers, the solar powered trash cans need the addition of bright artificial lighting above them to have enough power to operate! Yeah, they keep making less and less sense.

    Why were they removed?

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    I used to recycle my drink bottles in a container on congress every day, until it disappeared a few weeks ago. Why on earth did the city remove them? I now go a little out of my way to recycle them on summer st where he trash cans are still prevalent.