: views from the Hill

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The City of San Francisco STREETS LITTER AUDIT 2007

The City of San Francisco STREETS LITTER AUDIT 2007 [PDF]

The first ever audit of the City's litter problems. Released a couple weeks ago. Some interesting findings.

Note: "large" litter -- items over 4 sq in. "small litter" -- items under 4 sq in. Litter was categorized into eight-four sub-categories.

105 sites were audited in April. Average of thirty-six "large" litter items per site. "Small" litter clocked in at an average 23 items/site.

"Non-branded paper napkins and paper towels" were 13% of total litter. Of "branded" printed material litter, MUNI tickets and transfers were a significant factor.

Miscellaneous plastic litter accounted for 9% of total litter and 20% of "large" litter items.

The study compares San Francisco's litter to litter audits for other cities dated 2002-2006. On average, 27% of San Francisco 's litter is printed & fiber material (paper, cardboard, books, &c.) while the average in other large cities over the past five years hovers around 19%. Why?

On a positive note, San Francisco has less "small" litter than other large cities and is about on par with Toronto which has been focusing on litter for several years. "Small" litter clocked in at an average 23 items/site and included bottle caps, straws, gum, busted sporks, cigarette butts, &c.

When they broke down the type of small litter (wouldn't you have loved to have been one of the auditors?), they found that chewing gum was 39.5% of the small litter, small glass was 29.7% and cigarette butts were 5.6%. Comparing this to Toronto's audit last year, Toronto had 21 "small" items per site of which 30.9% was chewing gum, 15.4% small glass, and 14.8% cigarette butts.

Maybe we just don't smoke as much ...

I found an interesting note on page 33/Bag Litter Summary. Bag litter (paper and plastic, retail and non-retail) accounted for 4.45% of total litter. Retail plastic bags account for 0.6% of total litter. Now, plastic bags are not good for the garbage equipment and they're not good for the gulls and they aren't good for the environment in the long run but why cantcha just say that that is why you want to ban them from this fair city? Why all the nonsense about what a litter menace they are?

I don't know what Gav plans to do with the study. Gav has pledged to reduce litter by 50% over the next five years and it's interesting to have a notch marked so that we can see whether efforts to combat litter are working.

I'd like to encourage everyone whether they live in this fair ville or in a bucolic ville in Iowa to pick up at least one piece of orphaned trash a day and dispose of it properly.

We were out to dinner with neighbors a couple Fridays back. On the way to the restaurant, T. started picking up papers that were blowing on the sidewalk. Hot jam, I thought. Someone else picks up litter. We walked down the hill to Nua, collecting papers along the way, which we then tossed into a City trash bin before reaching the restaurant. (And remembered to wash our hands before dinner!)

On a similar if-it-bugs-you-do-something-about-it, we bumped into Aaron Peskin, our fearless President of the Board of Supervisors, on the steps last Saturday as we headed out to dinner. He was scrubbing (with an earth-friendly cleanser), removing graffiti that some yog-for-brain had tagged on the wall of 1360 Montgomery as you head down the Filbert Steps.

"Bless you," I said. "That really bothered me but I hadn't got my act together enough to come out here and scrub."

"Bothered me too," he said. "Tagging begets more tagging, so it had to go."

Make the Earth a cleaner place.

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