Littering of Public Spaces

My name is David Stern. I am the author of the anti-littering petition and founder of the website: I lived in Central Square for over 20 years and now I live north of Harvard Square, but I care about all of Cambridge.

In mid-2011 I was invited to a big meeting at the Baldwin School in the Baldwin-Agassiz neighborhood. It involved a presentation of the futuristic look of Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Porter Squares. The meeting was attended by members of the community, city councilors, heads of city departments and boards, engineers, architects, city planners, and Leslie and Harvard University representatives. There was a lot of talk about: widening sidewalks; planting trees and shrubbery; installing new street lights and benches; reconfiguring certain streets and curbs; re-doing sidewalks for more efficient pedestrian control; and renovating the Cambridge Common. But mention of pedestrian-use trash and recycling receptacles was almost entirely absent. It seems architects, city planners and governmental bodies go out of their way to avoid “trash talk.”

But trash exists. Everywhere. And it always will. And when trash is ignored, it becomes litter.

In a city that welcomes 9 million visitors a year, and there are hardly enough pedestrian-use trash and recycling bins for commuters and residents alone, there’s going to be litter. In a city where homelessness and open-air alcohol and drug use abound; where people sleep in parks and on sidewalks overnight, there’s going to be litter. In a city where one can walk a mile before finding a receptacle to put a banana peel, there’s going to be litter. In a city where at 5 o’clock on a normal Monday evening there’s a whole slew of litter on the lawn of City Hall, and no one’s bothering to pick it up, you can bet there’s going to be litter.

And you don’t have to walk more than fifty feet and up more than two flights of stairs to find those people who should be drafting a progressive pedestrian-use trash and recycling policy and who should be enforcing the littering ordinances already on the books. It’s up to the people of Cambridge to compel the City to clean up its act. You can help by signing this petition.

Thank you,
David Stern

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