The city of Worcester is a dump!
As a resident and some one who grew up making this city his childhood stomping grounds I can say that. I am not talking about the culture, the architecture, the history or even the people themselves. No, what I am talking about is the fact that Worcester is a trash dump.
Many of the neighborhoods, parks, walking paths, roadsides and playgrounds are festooned with litter. Despite the massive recycling efforts of the city and the state that very program is one of the reasons for the problem. Since the city is set upon the famous ‘seven hills’ there tends to be, what Winnie the Pooh would call, blustery days. Drive down any street during trash day and you are sure to see an assortment of milk jugs, water bottles and plastic bags dancing in the breeze as they tumble down a street.
I have personally watched the contractors who pick up our trash routinely drop, spill, kick and leave behind trash as they drive from house to house. Most of the bins are uncovered and no effort is made to pick up errant bits that escape their place in the bins. I have watched trash bounce past the sanitation workers as they stop to pick up the next bin. No one takes the 30 seconds to pick it up. A better system needs to be in place to reduce or eliminate the amount of recyclables that get lost from the bin to the back of the truck.
Residents contribute to the problem as well. Most of us who reside here in the city have seen more than one person blithely drop something on the ground without a second thought. I was at Vernon Medical Center the other day and watched children drop candy wrappers without mother saying a word.
In a four part series linked to this article I have filmed various neighborhoods documenting the amount of litter on the streets . What happens is that all of this trash washes down the steep streets of the city and ends up in the storm drains. Much of this water flows to aquifers and carries with it a toxic soup of God only knows what.
Burncoat Street resident Helen Carter who is working on the new Bottle Bill initiative has filmed trash pick up at Wawecus School. She and Mark Eckstein have spoken to me about Worcester’s Trash Problem and the updated bottle bill. Mark has informed me that the new bottle bill has the support of over 77% of the citizens of Massachusetts.
As we all know the current bottle bill does not cover other beverage containers. It only covers beer and soda. As bottlers shift to more juices, energy drinks and iced teas we are finding that 1/3 of these containers are ending up in the waste stream instead of being redeemed and recycled as opposed to over 80% of all redeemable containers being turned in. The new updated bill would raise redemption center payments.
Many family owned redemption centers have had to close due to increase handling costs. Although there was an increase for “redemption centers” , Bill Randell who runs a Randell Package Store, supports the expansion of the bottle bill but wants all business that accept returns to get the same handling fee as redemption centers. In addition, those businesses who carry “yellow” city rubbish bags, should be able to get a 5% mark-up as they do on lottery sales. If none of this will sell the legislators just use the new axiom of creating Green Jobs, that usually wins them over.
Speaking of Legislators.
Enter State Representative Dan Donahue. I spoke to Dan on the phone about this problem last Tuesday. Apparently the bottle bill is still locked up in the Environmental Committee. Polar of Worcester seems to have some concerns over the language of the bill as well. Odd, don’t they already have a deposit on their products? Representative Dan Donahue declined to say which way he was voting until it comes out of committee.
Helen Carter, Burncoat area resident, has taken part in the ‘adopt a basket’ program offered by the city. Essentially residents can get a basket from the city and attach it to a light pole for trash. It is the responsibility of the neighborhood to maintain it. I have asked at least three people in city government about this program and they all look at me like I have six heads. No one seems to know what I am talking about, except Helen Carter
Which begs the question. If no one at city hall or the DPW knows about the program how can residents learn about it? It must be like the solar powered trash compactors the city has installed under the thickly shaded trees on the Common. That’s working well.
While the city council was busy violating their Constitutional Oath last week there appeared in the agenda (buried on page 16) a request to fund the cleanup of the University Park and ‘no littering’ and ‘no dogs allowed’ signs in all of the cities parks. This is a step in the right direction because there isn’t enough dog poop on the sidewalks as it is and denying tax paying citizens the right to use a public park for family members is exactly how our local officials should be voting.