End Litter’s Disproportionate Impact on Low-Income Communities

Target: Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief of Streets, Boston

Goal: Place and maintain more public trashcans in lower income neighborhoods.

Most major cities struggle to address littering. People on the go often find it more convenient to toss trash to the ground than hold onto it. The issue can be more widespread in lower income neighborhoods that do not get as much attention from the department of public works (DPU). Fewer public trashcans installed and maintained means the DPU spends a disproportionate amount of time in these areas. The result leads to existing bins overflowing, a sight residents must deal with every day, especially in Boston’s Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods.

A number of civic studies have found people are less likely to litter if public trashcans are readily available. When we see trash bins, we are more likely to place our trash in them instead of leaving waste behind. Even people who acknowledge being active litters admit they are less inclined to if there is a readily available place to throw things away. Conversely, these studies also have found that even one piece of trash on the ground is enough for people to follow suit and continue the harsh cycle. It is simply human nature to follow the crowd whether in a positive or negative direction.

More public trashcans in lower income neighborhoods must be installed now. These also must be regularly emptied and maintained by the DPU. Not only will this reduce the amount of litter, an issue relevant to all citizens locally and globally, it creates a higher quality of life for those living in a particular area. When people appreciate where they live, they are more inclined to keep public spaces the way they want to see them.

Sign the petition below to urge Mr. Franklin-Hodge, Chief of Streets in Boston, to fight litter with more public trashcans.


Dear Chief of Streets Franklin-Hodge,

Boston has a littering problem. You hear about it from the news, read about it on local online forums, and see it most anywhere you travel in the city. Unfortunately, the problem is most prevalent in lower income neighborhoods. Walk down these streets, and you may notice a difference compared to more affluent areas: there are generally fewer public trashcans on the sidewalks. It is difficult to make sense of this given these areas have a greater population density.

The good news comes in the form of a simple solution: more public trashcans. Installing more bins, namely on sidewalks with a greater amount of foot traffic, can help mediate litter in the city. This means ensuring trashcans exist at bus stops, in and outside train stations, and near frequented stores and shops. Another important step is to ensure the DPU has the new and existing bins on their waste disposal routes. All the trashcans in the world are not much help if they are overflowing.

Placing more trashcans in lower income neighborhoods will show people in those neighborhoods that Boston cares about them, too. Addressing an issue many already recognize can increase the quality of life for thousands. They will see the investment as encouragement to no longer litter or litter less often. Cleaner streets mean happier people, something Boston should not hesitate to support.

We urge you to act now to fight improper disposal of trash to ensure a greater quality of life for all Bostonians.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Runningboards

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