Our street was swept early Tuesday morning. Two neighbors were out at 7:30 a.m. picking up debris from parkways and sweeping garbage on the street into piles to make it easier for the street sweeper.
Although the street was closed to parking until 2 p.m., the first car was parked shortly after 10 a.m. There was garbage on the parkway by early afternoon, at just about the
same time plastic forks were tossed into the middle of the street. Just before 6 p.m., I watched a man park his van, pick up his groceries, look at his receipt, and toss it into the street. The next morning, walking the dogs, I found two coffee cups and one can that clearly had been dumped by people exiting their vehicles on our just-cleaned street.
Why are people such pigs? Why is it that some people don’t care if they live surrounded by garbage? What is it about trees and grass, bushes and flowers that triggers the impulse to dump garbage?
Cans stuck in bushes or on tree branches, water bottles everywhere, food garbage on the ground outside apartment buildings—what kind of people are moving into West Ridge?
Sanitation standards are at an all-time low in this neighborhood. I’ve seen people sitting together sharing peanuts, all the shells dumped on the ground. Parents no longer pick up after their kids. Whatever’s dropped stays on the ground, even if there’s a trashcan just inches away. Bus shelters with seats are usually filled with food debris—check out the bus stops at Devon and California some morning. Or note the mess at Western & Devon. California from Devon to Granville looks like a pigpen–papers, bottles, cans, food, food wrappers, plastic containers, and other junk.
It’s true that a significant amount of garbage is deposited on side streets by nonresidents parking there to avoid paying the meters. Why free parking makes people feel entitled to dump garbage is unclear. But most of the garbage on our side streets and in our parks comes from our neighbors. An army of sanitation workers could not keep our streets clean. Too many people don’t care about basic cleanliness, don’t care about rats, don’t care how dirty they are or how dirty they make the neighborhood.
Respecting other cultures does not mean lowering our own American standards. It should mean teaching newcomers the basic standards of sanitation that led to the eradication of disease, rat and pest control, clean streets and parks, and a decent living environment.
People who don’t want to clean up after themselves, and landlords who permit their buildings to become garbage dumps, should be invited to live elsewhere. Too many businesses also need to clean up their acts. Do stores and restaurants really expect customers to wade through garbage to get to the front door?
It’s time to get the pigs out of West Ridge.