A recent study ranked the Los Angeles area among the dirtiest in the nation. Los Angeles came in 15th onLawnStarter’s list of the dirtiest cities in America of 2023 with Palmdale not far behind at 17th. Glendale was 28th, Long Beach was 43rd, and Pasadena was 60th out of the 152 cities ranked. The best of the bunch? Santa Clarita, at 81st overall, although it was ranked 4th dirtiest in the pollution category. But it could be worse. Inland Empire hub San Bernardino was ranked the 3rd dirtiest city in the nation, with the worst rankings in the country for the categories of pollution and consumer satisfaction.
The study compared over 150 of the biggest United States cities across 4 categories: pollution, living conditions, infrastructure and consumer satisfaction. The company gathered public data on factors such as median air quality index, greenhouse gas emissions, the share of homes with signs of mice or rats, the number of unsheltered unhoused people per 1,000 residents, and tons of landfill waste per 100,000 residents.
Not a statistic that we can be proud of.
And how did we get this way?
Of course, it is only an educated guess, but here are some of my thoughts:
COMPLETE APATHY: Because we see so much of it on our highways, streets and parking lots, we have just gotten used to it being there. We just walk around it or over it – leave it for the next guy to take care of it. We have become non-involved and non-committal in so many things – picking up litter is one of those things. We just do not see it anymore!
INCREASED HOMELESNESS: With the increase of homeless encampments, we see more debris just abandoned on our sidewalks, in our parks, behind our bushes and trees, and streets. When the homeless move on, they leave most all of their belongings (or hoarded things), uneaten food, dirty clothes, etc. behind because they will acquire new things in their new location.
CULTURE & TRANSIENTS: There are many cultures where trash on the streets and in their waterways is completely acceptable and just a part of life. Countries like Mexico, India, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Philippines and many more. We have people are living in the US from these countries that bring their culture with them and do not understand it is against our laws to litter.
LACK OF EDUCATION: Are we teaching our children that littering is against the law? That anything we throw on the streets will eventually make it to our oceans and poison the waters? Are we teaching, from the parental side and the school side, that we are in control of what happens to our environment through things like littering, pollution, etc?
THOUGHT OF AS A PUNISHMENT: Unfortunately we have given “picking up litter” a bad wrap… we have used this activity as punishment for doing something wrong – in schools (detention) you are sent to pick up litter around the school; when you get a citation from the courts, one of the activities that is offered is picking up litter on the highways through CalTrans; Teachers cannot ask a student to clean up after their lunch time, so the do not learn to clean up after themselves and through the debris into a trashcan.
PURE LAZINESS: We don’t walk the extra mile (or even a few feet) to do the right thing – put litter into a trashcan; bring a shopping cart back to the market where it was stolen; pick up some litter or debris and put it into a receptacle. When was it acceptable to sit on the curb or in your car, and when you are finished with your fast-food meal, put the bag and can or bottle into the gutter – and walk or drive off? That is what is happening all over our cities today!
GERMAPHOBIA: We have all become deathly afraid of germs! So much so that we will not pick up or touch anything that anyone else has touched without using sanitizer first and afterwards! When we have youth join us for a community clean up, they wear gloves and use a grabber and they still are very tentative about picking up the trash and putting it in the trash bag… not all, but a significant number of students react this way – and when we say it is ok to pick up litter with the gloves, they do not “get it”.
And what do we do about it?
Again, some of my thoughts.
· We need to start educating our youth (and adults) about the long-term danger of littering for our environment. We need to be able to hold them accountable for littering in the schools, in fast-food or coffee shops, on the streets, etc.
· We need to get the community members involved in helping their community with this issue.
· We need to build trashcans into automobiles.
· We need to get in the habit of carrying a plastic bag or baggie so that we can carry our trash until we find a receptacle for disposal.
· We need to get businesses to take responsibility for their parking lots and immediate area (streets and sidewalks).
· We need to find a way to have less packaging for our fast-food meals. Between the condiments, silverware, napkins, cups, lids, straws, wrapping, containers and ultimately the to go bag – it all lands in the streets…and a lot of people do not even put all the elements into the bag when they discard it!
· We need to push the Adopt-1-Street program where a person takes responsibility for their neighborhood streets and gets neighbors involved helping (www.adopt1street.org).
· We need to have trashcans on the streets emptied more often – when they are overfilled, people either do not use them or completely overfill them so that the trash then blows down the streets.
We need to change the mindset of littering in Americans – the mission of Volunteers Cleaning Communities (VCC). Come join us and help clean it up…www.vcc.world.
HERE IS THE CALIFORNIA LITTERING LAW: CA Penal Code § 374.4 (2017)
(a) It is unlawful to litter or cause to be littered in or upon public or private property. A person, firm, or corporation violating this section is guilty of an infraction.
(b) This section does not restrict a private owner in the use of his or her own property, unless the littering of waste matter on the property creates a public health and safety hazard, a public nuisance, or a fire hazard, as determined by a local health department, local fire department or district providing fire protection services, or the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in which case this section applies.
(c) As used in this section, “litter” means the discarding, dropping, or scattering of small quantities of waste matter ordinarily carried on or about the person, including, but not limited to, beverage containers and closures, packaging, wrappers, wastepaper, newspapers, and magazines, in a place other than a place or container for the proper disposal thereof, and including waste matter that escapes or is allowed to escape from a container, receptacle, or package.
(d) A person, firm, or corporation convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a mandatory fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) upon a first conviction, by a mandatory fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) upon a second conviction, and by a mandatory fine of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000) upon a third or subsequent conviction.
(e) The court may, in addition to the fine imposed upon a conviction, require as a condition of probation, in addition to any other condition of probation, that any person convicted of a violation of this section pick up litter at a time and place within the jurisdiction of the court for not less than eight hours.
(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 416, Sec. 8. Effective January 1, 2007.)
If we begin enforcing this law and change the mindset of Americans, perhaps we can move up to be one of the cleanest cities in the United Sates! In the meantime, VCC and its volunteers will continue to clean the streets and make it a little better for you!
RIP NORMAN...WHOSE CREMATED ASHES WE FOUND TOSSED ON THE SIDE OF THE FREEWAY...
This morning we volunteers of Volunteers Cleaning Communities (VCC) had a celebration of life and memorial ceremony for Norman, the person (ashes) we found on the 118 freeway last year. It was time to put him to rest. The video says it all... thank you Mark Hovater.
I started cleaning up around the Target on San Fernando Mission and Balboa. Count so far is two bags. This morning I also branched out to the liquor store across the street. We have some homeless there so it tends to get messy not to mention it’s a high traffic area.
Hope you have a great time and safe travels. Don’t worry about things here we’ll keep the momentum alive.
Thank you. Just came back from filling up 3 bags from the bridge at the 118. Wow, so much trash down there. Probably be another 10 to 15 more filled bags. Crazy.
I haven’t been able to join the clean ups since the day I helped at the LA River several weeks ago. I really do enjoy reading your updates and I’m always disappointed when I’m not able to participate, but at the same time, I’m encouraged by your determination to go out on your “non-event“ days and just pick up trash on your walks.
So, because of that, I have been inspired and motivated to pick up trash in my neighborhood while walking my Goldendoodle, Mabel. Today, I invited my best friend Crystal and her Goldendoodle, Moose, (sibling to Mabel) to join me in picking up trash on Devonshire from Wilber to Tampa and we filled 4 kitchen size trash bags. On my walk back home I pickup up another bag full on the backside of Nobel Middle school, as well as part of Wilbur. It was very satisfying and I felt such a relief to finally see my streets litter-free!!
I know that I have the choice to make a difference in my immediate community, any time and any day. So, I’ve made it my personal goal and purpose to continue doing that with different friends on different days. Thanks for your weekly/daily determination and inspiration that is contagious! I do hope to join you again soon!!
Blessings, Mary Girgis
Diana and I finished Balboa from Citronia to Plummer this morning. We filled just over 2 bags. Also cleaned the drain halfway between the 2 streets.
"There is so much illegal dumping on Gault Street but today I was there when the LA conservation corps stopped to pick up the six chairs I reported earlier in the week.
They allowed me to add the black cabinet that was disassembled and they took one of my trash bags that was crawling with ants.
After they left I found some more illegal dumping behind a large bush and put it out in the street and created a service request.
I cleaned up the rest of the street and I hung the VCC sign on the school fence. It looks so small. I might move it down a little bit but it’s there now."
Copyright © 2023 Volunteerscleaningcommunities - All Rights Reserved.