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Citizen complaint of the day: The bag-poking can seekers of East Boston

Stop ripping my bags open

An outraged citizen complains he's been forced to label his trash to try to keep the neighborhood can collectors from ripping his bags open:

How can we fix the fact that I have to put this on my trash bags? I use the right bags and pack properly. Everything after trash day I need to clean up outside my house. These people just come along and poke through bags looking for cans. They don't care about the trash left behind. Just frustrating to a tax payer that wants to keep his neighborhood clean.

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Comments

These are people who are so desperate to make ends meet, they'll dig through your trash for 5 cents. How about instead of pearl-clutching, you help them out? Get another barrel and label it "HERE ARE MY CANS".

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Every little bit adds up.

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Before we got our dumpstercans, we had people ripping bags open. Even when we put the cans and bottles out and labeled them? The second gleaner to come through would still rip stuff open.

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Worked for me in Allston.

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People rip through the bags regardless of whether or not there are cans/bottles in them. Trash gets everywhere. I once asked a lady not to go in my neighbour's yard to go through the trash. She threw a can of root beer at my front door.

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That must have been very traumatic for you.

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really suggesting people in the neighborhood not only pack their trash and recycling properly (as the person who filed the complaint claims they do), but also in a manner that caters to people who pick through it? That's ridiculous. Also, if the person(s) digging through doesn't care about leaving a mess behind and/or is that in need, do you really think they wouldn't dig through everything anyway?

And pearl clutching? I can't speak for the person who filed the complaint, but personally, I don't mind if people dig through my trash and am glad to have them take my cans or anything else they may find useful. The issue at hand is that the people doing it are leaving trash everywhere. We already have a few trash collectors that can't seem to get it all in the truck, nor do they care that they can't do so, and a lot of neighborhood residents that just throw their losing scratch tickets on the sidewalk, this is only adding to the problem.

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Clear plastic refuse bags may prevent the needy from needlessly ripping through this citizen's garbage.

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Clear plastic bags are required for recycling in my neighborhood. Building gets fined if they're not used and consequently the individual tenents get fined.

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Get rid of the outdated bottle bill....

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How I dream of the day. Alas, in this crazy moobat collection we call a Commonwealth, it will never come to pass.

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Santo Domingo to be precise.

Walk along the malecon (road along the water) and you will see nothing but plastic bottles littering what should be a beautiful stretch of water. Im talking thousands of bottles strewn along the shore.

If those bottles had a deposit, I can guarantee you they would be gone over night.

https://www.travelblog.org/Photos/4238988

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I guess Santo Domingo is the only place in the world without a bottle deposit, so it's the only possible point of comparison. Makes perfect sense. I suppose that also implies that if Massachusetts eliminated the bottle deposit, the state would turn into an international sex tourism destination.

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...the Mass bottle bill supposedly resulted in about a 30% reduction in litter (and also increased safety due to less broken glass).

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It's been noticeably much cleaner here, litter-wise, compared to pre-bottle bill days. The bottle bill has done what it was supposed to do very well.

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Back then there was not a societal predisposition towards separating recyclables, nor curbside recycling pickup. Now we have both, in spades. The bottle bill serves only 2 populations: the people who return their own bottle for deposit, getting back the money they left at the counter the last time, and people who rummage through trash looking for nickels. The former population would not be affected by cancelling the deposit, they would just forevermore be at the net-zero gain/loss that they strive to get back to today. The latter will stop tearing apart my fucking trash if it becomes worthless.

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You left out the most important beneficiary of the Bottle Bill which is state politicians who don't want the hassle of balancing a budget without the revenue from unredeemed containers.

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One of the localities ( I can't remember which) wanted to make trash picking illegal because they actually include a line item in their budget for monies collected from unredeemed 'nickles'.

Why a municipality would count on that to help balance the books is beyond me.

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...we got a lot of young'uns posting on the internet who weren't around before the Bottle Bill, or who were too young to remember, and yet are sure they know all about what things used to be like.

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Because when it was introduced, there were no recycling programs, and cans were the easiest thing to recycle.

Now that most towns have recycling, and recycle a lot more than cans, there's really no reason to extort money out of me any more because you assume my can or bottle will end up on your curb. And, all the trash that ends up on the street due to pickets, as this thread points out. The can is now off the street, but the rest of my garbage is now everywhere because a picker thought there might be a can in my trash and opened it up to look...

If you really wanted clean streets, you could put a deposit on cigarette butts, snack bags and coffee cups, as I see many more of those on streets and in parks than water bottles or non-deposit cans.

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If many people didn't put recyclables in the trash, even with curbside recycling available in many cities (not as many as the supermarket lobby claimed, however 1.), people wouldn't be going through the trash to find them. The fact is that people are throwing away recyclables, which costs taxpayers more to process as trash than recycling them. Recycling should be mandatory statewide because it is the most efficient way to deal with trash, and these problems would no longer be issues.

1. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/29/proponents-expanded-bottle-b...

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Noticeably cleaner? This whole thread is about how the deposit system creates litter.

The bottle bill worked great in the 1980's and 1990's. Today, better off without it.

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Just had to quote this for truth:

Noticeably cleaner? This whole thread is about how the deposit system creates litter.

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the only actual solution in this thread.

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For dense urban areas where it is difficult to store garbage or use dumpster cans, the city might consider the sort of garbage/recycling stations seen in many areas of Europe.

Then, when your bag is full, you simply walk to the nearest collection area, and trash is never just left out on the street.

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For every building with a lid-protected dumpster [rat prevention] there is two more without room in their lot/alley for a dumpster. And many of those buildings do not use cans either [although they should]. The trash gets dropped on the curb the night before pickup. Not only is it a rat feast day, but the sidewalk is blocked physically and by a cloud of miasma.

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We've discussed such things. Two issues:

1) Whose home gets 'stuck' with such containers on the street in front of it (even if it is clean and smell free)

and ) "OMG lost parking spots! Over my dead body".

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The fact that enough people are still throwing their cans in the trash to make it worthwhile to go house-by-house and rip open the garbage shows how useless the bottle bill is.

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it's because the majority of recycling centers closed and stores only take back what they sell (eg Stop and Shop will only take soda or sparkling water cans/bottles).

So most find the routine of returning them a burden.

My father, however, used to save his (Maine - $0.10/bottle or can) and give them to the volunteer fire department in his town which if I recall correctly, was actually a collection point for the Boy Scout Troop.

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Go down to the south and look along roads in states without bottle deposits- tons of cans and tires. The deposit works- even if you do not return the cans for the money, someone will.

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Not true in the southern state where I live. The same "Adopt a Highway" people who pick up cigarette packs and McDonald's bags pick up the empty bottles and cans.

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"Adopt a Highway" is sort of cool, but it treats the symptom, not the problem. Picking up litter isn't the same as preventing it in the first place.

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Living in the city I see how it can increase the trash problem with bottle and can pickers, but I think it helps some out away from the city (although wouldn't make a difference in Concord where they want to ban plastic bottles (did the bill go through - I can't keep track)).

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do you really think they wouldn't dig through everything anyway?

From an East Boston resident Facebook group:

"...I put my bottles in a separate bag, but the next person goes through the bags!"

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Agree that the financial geniuses who buy stacks of scratch tickets like to show off all the money they wasted by littering their scratch tickets all over the place. So damn annoying.

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is that I'm pretty sure these all offer "second chance" drawings if you send your tickets in or go online or something.

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the system - you have to send your tickets in. Perhaps if we had a better program, like turn in ten used tickets and get a new one for free. Then we might have a reasonable chance of reducing the flotsam of spent scratch tickets.

The other thing we need to consider, apart from the downsizing of scratch games as I described below, is actively reducing the number of Lottery agents. Lottery availability at every store within a stone's throw is another aspect of the system that is idiotic.

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Remember in the 1990's when the Mass Lottery had a redemption program for losing scratch tickets? People made a living out of collecting unredeemed tickets. The program was so popular, that once the lottery did a redemption "event" at the Hatch Shell which jammed up traffic on Storrow Drive. Finally the lottery cancelled the program, but they did it on short notice a long time after their last redemption event, leaving ticket collectors with tons of meticulously sorted and bundled tickets, suddenly worthless.

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Such sign should also be written in multi native languages.

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Wanting to keep one's neighborhood clean is in no way "pearl-clutching."

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Being more upset at the consequences of our society's inability to provide a functional social safety net than the fact that our society is unable to provide a functional social safety net is, though.

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Oh boy another problem out of the hands of any one individual but somehow is the individual's fault if they DARE complain.

UGH BUT SOCIETY is the armchair activist's general complaint towards anyone that is angry or upset

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have had no success. They still dig through the trash, and then leave everything all jumbled up. It got to the point where I would wait until the absolute last minute to put out the trash and recycling to avoid the digging.

Strangely, where I now live, the trash pickers don't seem to have this problem. There isn't a returnable container left for the recycling trucks, but there isn't trash strewn all over the place, either. I don't know what the difference is.

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These are people who are so desperate to make ends meet, they'll dig through your trash for 5 cents. How about instead of pearl-clutching, you help them out? Get another barrel and label it "HERE ARE MY CANS".

There are people so desperate to make ends meet, they will break into your car for the change you keep in the cupholder. How about you help them out by leaving the car unlocked?

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Digging through your garbage to squeak out a living is totally like committing a felony! Brilliant analogy!

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So desperate to make ends meet or so desperate to pay for their next fix? I think you're the pearl clutcher here. Don't live in a city, do you. Plenty of us have tried leaving the bags open, the result is that the contents just get dumped out. One of the guys who does it in our neighborhood drives right down the alley, stopping at each building and dumps out every bag. My window faces the alley -- I see it all the time. He's not driving a piece of crap either. I know people who work pretty damn hard to pay to live in the city and they can't afford a car. Think about it.

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and we'll send them over to visit your trash.

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You're assuming the person has cans or bottles that can be redeemed. I'm guessing they just have a bag of regular, unredeemable trash.

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They have already been supplied with a separate container...it's called the recycling bin. Stay out of the damn trash bags! Sorry your life is tough, but that doesn't mean you get to turn everyone's front stoop into a garbage dump.

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If you have a cat, put the used litter (especially the pissed on litter) at the top. The Ammonia smell will prevent them from digging at all.

No cat, put two cap fulls of ammonia in the bag will also work

Signed, someone who has the same problem and was tired of sweeping after trash pick up also.

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Garbage gleaners can be undeterred by foul odors and may merely scatter the bag contents in search of redeemable containers.

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It works for the ones near me in Chelsea.. *shrug*

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I put used litter and dog crap bags all over the top of my trash. It seemed to help a bit. We recycle, so everything is in our recycling bin, but they still rip open our trash and leave the area filthy. I don't give a flying poo if they take my bottles, but I will bust a cap if I catch someone making my street filthy. Is it too much to ask that the needy respect the area like everyone else should? Just because you collect cans doesn't mean you have to be a burden to the city.

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Ok the pet waste bit is GRO-DY!

But as a homeowner in Lower Allston (so similar) the worst is when you have put everything out nicely packed, separated, and labeled, then somebody rips through your trash, THEN inspectional services comes through and issues a trash ticket.

To pre-empt - trash tickets go on your property record and can be used against you in the future.

It would be great if there was an awesome solution to bag ripping and I think the can collectors work very hard. Some people are just dirty.

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Don't put your trash out overnight. My neighbors only put their trash out the morning of pick up. This avoids having trash bags sit on the sidewalk for 12 hours for rats, raccoons, the weather and the less fortunate to mess with.

It's not a perfect solution but pretty damn good. Ever since we started doing that our street is a lot cleaner after trash day.

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I wait until the morning to put out my trash, but people still troll in the morning. It's neverending. Even trash bags in trash bins get pulled out and ripped open then left on the ground.

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not a perfect solution but it does reduce the chances that trash is going to be strewn all over the street.

It worked for us. give it a shot.

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Until I put a lock on the side gate, the bottle collectors would go down my alley and rifle thru my trash anyways.

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Both sides of this. I sympathize with those desperate enough to need to do this but also the littering is unacceptable. I've had luck with positive dialogue and just trying to be human. This won't always work, obviously.

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The streets of East Boston are disgusting. The reason that trash is blowing around everywhere is because of these people tearing bags open. At best, they tear a tiny hole and leave it facing upward so that Capitol Waste sees it. But most of the time they tear a huge hole, then roll the bag aside to get to the one underneath it, letting trash spill out all over the sidewalk. On several occasions I've seen small bags and boxes just dumped right out onto the sidewalk.

And the idea that one can just put out a separate bag/box labeled "cans and bottles" just doesn't work. The second, third, fourth person will still rip open whatever's left.

It's surprising that nothing is done to stop people from doing this. Doesn't the city realize where all this trash on the streets is coming from? It's not like people are driving around throwing it out of their car windows, or people are just routinely littering as they walk down the sidewalk. Seriously- watch one of these trash scavengers operate for half a block or so and you'll be disgusted at what you see.

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scratching their lottery tickets and just throwing them on the ground. I pick up off the sidewalk about 5 to 10 every day walking home from Maverick. The lottery should have a 5 cents credit for every non-winning ticket.... collect 20 and get a free $1 scratch ticket. I've lived in many parts of the city and feel like East Boston is the scratch ticket capital. Anyone know if we can get ticket sale stats by city neighborhood?

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The lottery does this to some extent already.
http://www.masslottery.com/vip/
You can enter in the numbers off lising tickets for a chance to win.

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You haven't been to Chelsea have you... I see scratch tickets all over the streets. Its an epidemic. I wish the state would do what you suggest. tired of seeing so many tickets just discarded everywhere.

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If there's a five cent credit on non-winning tickets, the scavengers will be ripping open bags looking for them, too.

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That sounds like a fine idea.

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The State lottery prey on the poor of East Boston, And they certainly know that the poor who are struggling to make ends meet are the ones who will spend the most money, they have it down to a science, even the illegal immigrants of East Boston are spending their money like water on the lottery, you can see it in every convinience store in the neighborhood.

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The lottery preys on the poor. In the animal kingdom, this would be described as a line of bunnies hopping their way to the lion den, seeing signs that say "Lion ahead, $5." Forgive me if i leave the violin in the case.

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Maybe PBS (WGBH) Frontline should do a documentary about people who spend half their earnings on lottery tickets in poor neighborhoods like East Boston.

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Being poor is no excuse for throwing your scratch tickets on the ground though.

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But being a Masshole is.

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The Garbage problem is going to get worse in Eastie, take an example ,walk through the streets of Allston look at all the multi unit apartment buildings count how many garbage filled barrels outside each apartment building, Rat heaven !! Having more newly built multi unit large apartment buildings in densely populated Eastie will escalate the rat population, Even worse living anywhere near a restaurant or bar, rats love the scent of alcohol especially when its sitting for days in a dumpster.

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eliminate 95% of the "active" scratch games that are out there. No more than three active games running concurrently at a time, and you rotate the games on a six month cycle. And you discontinue games regardless of the number of top prizes that haven't yet been claimed.

In addition to reducing flotsam, it would also increase Lottery sales, as the odds of winning a reasonable prize on any one game would greatly increase.

This nonsense of having between 35 and 50 games (depending upon which convenience store you walk into) to choose from is just pure idiocy.

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Better yet, why have scratch tickets at all? Let's have a government that provides services, and funds those services the old fashioned way, by levying taxes. Get the state out of the lottery business.

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It's surprising that nothing is done to stop people from doing this.

The moment the city tries to prevent someone from doing this, ticketing them for littering or whatever, the city will be pounced on by the social justice warrior crowd that fights with city governments over the "right" for the homeless to turn park benches and sidewalks into tent cities (anyone remember the UHub thread about the guy who took over an entire dock to live on?) and treat the public library and its bathroom as their personal daytime shelter.

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Handing out tickets to people who are already forced to dig through your trash to eat totally makes sense! And those homeless people - they're all so smelly and in my way! Why can't they go be homeless somewhere else?

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They should have a 5 cent deposit on Syringe needles in East Boston, syringe needles out number plastic bottles/cans in East boston.

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Portuguese, Spanish, and Mandarin.

No bottles. No garrafas. No botellas. 无瓶

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When I lived in Cambridge I would occasionally get mailings from the city, I think it was about voting, in 14+ languages.

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The City of Boston was hit with a multi million dollar federal lawsuit for not having ballots and voting signs in multiple languages.

http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/sec_203/documents/boston_comp.php

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use a trash barrel with a lid versus using a note that will become street litter. We will always have trash pickers and animals tearing open bags searching for food. Better solution is to contain any spills from opened bags within a barrel. The city should require barrels and landlords should be required to provided them.

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          IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/danielle.jpg)
When her bail is raised, it locks the cover so rodents or other wild animals can't get inside.

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where exactly would landlords in the city put these trash cans? See a lot of open space in the North End to stick trash barrels?

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We used to have a lid...the garbage collectors tossed it aside one day years ago and we never saw it again.

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1) The city does require barrels, and landlords are required to provide them. 2) How does having your trash in a barrel prevent someone from going through your trash? They still take out the bag and rummage through it.

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#1 The City of Boston does not require trash barrels nor do they require landlords to provide them:
http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/regulations.asp

Different neighborhoods have different needs and requiring trash barrels would be dependent on the neighborhood. Yes, trash barrels in the North End with no yards and no alleys would be just about impossible, but that's also why the North End has trash pickup twice a week. Different solutions for different neighborhoods.

#2) Putting trash in a barrel will not prevent someone from going through your trash, but it will help contain the trash once the bag is broken.

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I'd like to murderkill every idiot in Beacon Hill who is still putting out trash on Wednesdays. IT HAS BEEN OVER A YEAR, YOU GIANT JERKS. I assume this still happens in the North End too.

Anyway, I do put my stuff out in the morning but it is sometimes hard to remember to get up early to put it out on my street, and they are sometimes there by 7 so I miss them. In that event, I generally go around the block to where they come by later and put it with that trash. Then again, I average about 1 plastic grocery bag a week so YMMV.

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Where, in someone's 300 square foot studio apartment, are they expected to keep the barrel? And are you going to ask the 80 year old woman who lives on the 4th floor to walk the barrel up and down the stairs twice per week? And no, there's no common area in the building; the basement was converted to an a apartment years ago.

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No sign needed.

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Use clear 30 gal trash bags

Clear bags are for recycle. If you put ordinary trash in a clear bag, the trash truck will come through and ignore it because it looks like recyclables. Then the recycle truck will come through and not pick it up because it contains ordinary trash.

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In Cambridge, plastic bags aren't allowed for recycling, since they jam the sorting machinery.

Plus trash is supposed to go in a trash can, and recyclables in a blue wheely bin.

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for the trash collectors to read instead of signs for the can pickers!

In Arlington we are now encouraged to use generic trash cans for recyclables and put supplied "Recycling" bumper stickers on them to tell JRM what is what.

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I always put my deposit cans/bottles in a recyclable paper bag and the bottle collectors know by now that there is trash in the black bag, that the non-deposit recyclables are in the clear bag, and the deposits in a paper bag that may or may not be there anymore. How many of these people who have their black bags ripped open are just single-streaming everything, i.e., not recycling? Thankfully I've never had an issue with my trash being torn apart because, well, it's obviously just trash and nothing of value.

Then again I'm in Jeffries Point so we may have a different breed of "gleaner" in the area.

I agree that scratch tickets are an issue. Just like the bottle deposit should have been raised to Euro-levels, there should be a deposit on lottery tickets. People talk about how much money goes back into the community--how much of that money is just spent on cleaning the damn things up? Between lottery tickets and non-compostable Dunkin Donuts cups, there's $20/hour worth of cleanup in a lot of neighborhoods.

edit - yeah, I didn't see the location originally--somehow living within two blocks of this location for three years I've never had this issue. Maybe I'm just a special snowflake or something.

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The city's web page is a bit unclear, but my neighbor was ticketed for using paper bags for recycling. They do fall apart in rain and snow.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/regulations.asp

http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/curbside.asp

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I don't use them for recycling, per se, I use them to put the deposit bottles/cans out so they (the "gleaners") will just take the bag with them, and they always do. My reasoning was that if they were to just toss the bag, I'd rather a paper bag in a tree than a plastic one.

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"How can we fix the fact that I have to put this on my trash bags?"

Get rid of the bottle deposit? End homelessness? You're putting things of value, however tiny, in with your trash; what do you expect to happen?

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You're putting things of value, however tiny, in with your trash

Actually, they're not. That's why they wrote the note. Try to pay attention.

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Hey, so we can then throw out the bath water AND the baby!

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These is why we take our garbage out just they trash man is coming !!!!

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Thanks Phyllis

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So do we. But our upstairs neighbors don't, nor do the 25 people who live in the building immediately next to ours. And they all pile everything in front of our house and then (a) the trash pickers come along overnight and destroy everything and then (b) we get nailed with a citation from the city for doing it wrong, even though everyone used the correct bags in the first place. When we appeal, we are denied, because the mess is still all in front of our house. This is a completely insane system. The residents who follow the rules get cited and there seems to be no way to stop the people who pour garbage all over the sidewalk at four o'clock in the morning.

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Great idea if you either don't work and can wait for the garbage collectors or if your work schedule is such that you're available when you're trash is picked up. Our trash is picked up after 9am.

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When the trash guys that normally show up before 9 am don't show up until 6:30 PM for whatever reason.

Sorry sweets, I don't have time to sit around all day waiting for the Trashman Cometh.

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There's nothing that the resident is going to do to stop someone from going through their trash. First, it's legal to do so. Once you put it on the curb, it's fair game. However, the problem here is that anyone going through it and letting it spread around is littering. A few cops on trash day/eve going around and threatening littering summonses (one per trash bag ripped open) would make the person realize that if this is going to be profitable, they can't get caught.

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First, it's legal to do so. Once you put it on the curb, it's fair game.

It's illegal to rummage through trash in Boston. (No, I haven't got a cite, because our "transparent" city government doesn't put the laws online in some easy-to-search way.)

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http://www.amlegal.com/boston_ma/

Found the rummaging ordinance. I'd be surprised if that was able to hold up in court if it ever got challenged. The fine is $10. I'd bet you'd do more dissuasion on littering.

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on the curbside or even a whole trash dump looking for the marathon bomber's backpack!

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They're going to send cops to watch everybody's trash and then issue summonses to homeless guys? That's even stupider than one of Will's "Hide in the bushes and then jump out and arrest them" suggestions.

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Of course not. Don't be stupid. They cruise the streets (I hear that's good for stopping lots of different crimes) and if they see a can cart, they observe the person rip into a bag and give him/her a warning and point out the fine for not keeping it clean as they are searching.

If you run into a truly obstinate asshole who still continues to scatter shit on the street, then you give them a ticket for the fine. The delay to their rummaging alone will probably cost them enough to make them knock it off with just the warning. Do that for a few weeks and I bet you see the same people being the actual problems and they get straightened out pretty quickly (once a week for a couple of hours is not going to keep them from solving the case of the empty peanut butter jar, Encyclopedia Brown).

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I hope they are careful for used needles while they are rummaging in a random bag!! Maybe getting pricked and getting Hep C or HIV might smack 'em upside the head!!! I've seen some of these rummagers not even wearing gloves!!

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Insulin dependent diabetics seem to manage their needles just fine.

I'm beginning to think that our heroine is a heroin junkie junkie.

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You are all very insensitive to my feelings

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Don't keep those feelings bottled up!

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Can it.

The two of yoots.

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for both trash and recycling. Trash carts are black, recycle carts are blue. Everyone is required to use these carts. I think Cambridge does the same thing. Perhaps Boston should, too?

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Not sure if the original complaint filer uses them or not, but Boston residents can request blue bins for recycling online. Doesn't seem to stop pickers in many cases, they tend to leave no stone unturned, no bin unsearched.

Edit: I originally stated you could order both online. I've only ever ordered a blue bin and had just assumed you could for trash, but was apparently mistaken. That being said, my current apartment, AND the one I'm moving to, do have black bins for trash, so assuming they were available at some point, and many Boston residents DO have them.

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we could get trash barrels. I'll look into that!

Our triple decker does have 3 recycling wheely barrels - so that's taken care of. :)

ETA: I couldn't find anywhere on the Boston DPW web page that they provide trash barrels (black) - can you include a link? Thanks!

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Admittedly, I've never ordered a trash bin myself. I have requested a new blue recycling bin, and that, coupled with the fact that my current apartment and the one I'm moving to do have black bins for trash as well, lead me to assume you could. I've updated my original comment.

But get your recycling cart here.

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Had no idea that city residents can get free trash barrels - any info on where to go for these? We have the large, wheeled recycle bin as well, but no city-issued barrels for trash. Appreciate the information!

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I don't think you can. The DPW web page indicates how trash must be stored, but not that they provide barrels.

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Please see my amended post and reply^

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