Philadelphia, PA

What Can Philly Do About This Growing Trash Dumping Problem?

Genius Turner

Pic: screenshot provided by author, from Twitter

Forbes Ranked Philly the Dirtiest City in America. Perhaps it's Time for the City of Brother Love to Show the 'Streets' Some Love, Too

PHILADELPHIA — Benjamin Franklin, Philly's most iconic citizen, started America's first street-sweeping program. Where? In Philly.

Franklin also helped to improve everything from street lighting to paving streets. Where? In Philly.

Ah, one can only imagine what ol' Ben would say if he could see the "Cradle of Liberty" today.

As for "liberty," just as the Liberty Bell is stuck in bronze, the unflattering nickname “Filthadelphia” seems to have stuck. Or at least it has for the time being. After all, it appears far too many residents are mistaking the sidewalks for dumpsters.

"It's not safe, it's unsanitary, it's obviously an eyesore," said Victoria Johnson of Hunting Park. And she's not alone in the growing concern.

Last year, Forbes ranked Philly as the dirtiest city in America. Ouch! According to the report:

Several factors contributed to Philadelphia’s ranking including low scores in several key categories like restaurant cleanliness, where it received the lowest possible score of 0, along with other minimal scores for electric vehicle market share (0.76), hand sanitizer demand (0.93) and quantity of recycling collectors (1.42).

Because it takes not only residents but also city council to make up a city, no wonder Johnson went so far as to say, "It's a community problem, it's a city problem, it's not unique to 7th and Butler, but it's chronic!"

The city, however, was quick to deflect the blame for the alarming trash dumping problem. According to Action News, the city sent live footage of a man on the 1900 block of Grays Lane illegally dumping. This is a prime example, argued the city, of why Filthadelphia has emerged.


Ah, but like most things — the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

Sure, as the deputy commissioner for sanitation Keith Warren noted, "More than half of the dumping we see around the city now is just residents," this may be true, but what about the city's well-known sanitation problem?

The sanitation department has struggled mightily to keep a regular schedule throughout the pandemic. Sure, the task force has done a commendable job with the trash dumping prevention outreach, but as the old saying goes: sometimes good enough ain't good enough.

As for the residents who persist in trying to turn Philly's sidewalks into dumpsters, perhaps Warren was onto something when he called it "a cultural thing, a behavioral thing, where people think 'I don't want this trash in my house, I'm going to walk down and put it to the corner.' "

As Carlin once put it — your house ain't nothing but a room in the city where you live! And so, perhaps as part of the trash dumping prevention outreach, moving forward the city will place a greater emphasis on educating residents on what's becoming an alarming issue.

Perhaps the city and, maybe even, some residents will help nail up a few signs around Philly, such as those that "reveal an indirect correlation between litter and violence." After all, according to a study, stepping out of the comforts of your home only to be met with trash-filled sidewalks and streets is linked to increased "incidence of depression indirectly correlating with violence."

“Do the best you can until you know better," Maya Angelou once said. "Then when you know better — do better.”

In short, the most likely solution to Philly's trash dumping problem is to be found in Warren's heartfelt plea:

I remind everyone we're all [in] the city of Philadelphia as residents.

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My writing is popular in academia (biology, psychology, etc.) and on websites such as Quora (millions of views) and Medium. Also, I'm signed to the same literary agency as Eckhart Tolle. In short, I'm an ordinary guy serving an extraordinary God.

New York City, NY

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