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Citizen complaint of the day: The bag-ripping can lady of the South End

A fed-up South End citizen grouses:

Every trash day a small Asian woman comes out and rips open trash bags to find cans!! She makes a mess and the trash guys can't clean it all up, it's disgusting.

Ed note: Here in this far-away provincial outpost of Meninostan, we have alternating pickers: A small Asian woman and a skinny black man, both of whom are very courteous and don't make a mess, but then again, we have room for actual trash barrels and recycling "bins" with lids that are easy to lift, rather than thin plastic bags.

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Comments

We've had great success in JP and HP using the small blue recycling box for deposit bottles and cans. The gleaners seem happy to dump the redeemable ones and leave the trash can and big recycling bin alone. No signs are necessary.

Think of Ruth and Naomi. Accommodation is not a big deal.

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They should change the deposit from $0.05 to $1.00 for each recyclable. That way people will actually return their own stuff and would lessen the "pickings".

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I think bottle deposits should be eliminated. We have mandatory curbside recycling, so why maintain the whole bureaucracy that encourages people to take their cans back to the store?

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The city doesn't enforce trash codes (except for uncovered barrels in the South End). If you complain about recycling in the trash, they just close the complaint without doing anything.

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I can sympathize with the 'caller'. I was woke up at 3am last friday morning by someone going thru our trash. It DOES get annoying.

Here in Revere, we have Recycle Bank so we get paid to recycle. Its very annoying because the 'bottle collectors' have started to notice that residents put a lot of bottles, as you get more from Recycle Ban for them. Yet they are out there on our street in full force digging thru the bins every friday. Its kinda annoying.

Sometimes I wish in our state it was illegal to pick trash (as it is in a few other states) because there's little we can do about it

(and yes I am aware bottles and cans are many of these folk's lifeline but really, it makes a mess and causes a ton of noise at 3am)

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used to pull down her pants and make pee pee on the sidewalk next to my house. i saw her do it three times. never saw her make a mess though.

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Of course I live in Chinatown, and she's more at home here. So the messes are even bigger. I've started putting all of my deposit bottles and cans in a separate bag, and leaving it off to the side.

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A couple years ago in Allston there used to be a couple of asian folks who would go through recycling bins and take out cans.

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they're still here; sometimes i give them a little kitty litter in with the bottles as a way of saying thank you for jangling down my street at 6AM.

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There is also an asian dude in allston who will look for clothes.

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In my East Boston neighborhood there are numerous garbage pickers that come buy. Most of them are pretty neat about it, but in some strange way one does feel violated having ones garbage picked through, and all the rattling does make a lot of noise. Then there are people that come buy in trucks and take the larger items. It's amazing how fast they arrive once something of perceived value is put out. Again a creepy feeling, as if one is being "cased". One person's trash is another person's gold, I guess.

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I think the larger issue for me is that there are no recyclables in my trash. And still she makes holes in the trash bag and everything spills out. I rarely put my trash out the night before, but it doesn't really seem to make a difference.

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These people are doing a community service while at the same time helping themselves. Do your part by making it clear that all your returnables are in one bin.

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How is poking holes in trash bags and spilling trash all over the place doing a community service?

If so, that job is TAKEN in my neighborhood, by the raccoons and possums who patrol the area.

(edited because I can't spell a two-letter word)

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I think the problem here (at least for me) is that of the assorted cast of thousands that trawl the Eastie streets searching for returnables there's a subset of them that don't believe that I put it all in the blue recycle bin on the sidewalk. So they take it upon themselves to dig through the trash barrel. Sometimes they're just late and someone already got the stuff of value. Some folks are just going for can and bottle deposits, while others must be bringing things down to a recycle center for more than just a bottle bill deposit -- they'll take anything metal. So for that more ambitious recycler the tied up trash bag in the barrel is potential picking ground. Some of them are neat about it and some leave crap blowing all over the street. I've even had some remove the paper from the recycle bin and dump it in the trash can so they can get a clear shot at the bottom of the bin.

I just use the hose on all of them.

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This is a big problem in the alleys of the Back Bay but I must say that I feel the blame belongs squarely on the head of the complainer. Honestly, how selfish of this person to not recycle. How wasteful and lazy not to redeem the recyclables if they don't set them aside for people who may need the money. And how arrogant to continue this behavior and force somebody to go through their garbage causing it to be a problem for the neighborhood.

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You don't know that the person who submitted the complaint doesn't recycle. In the South End, there would be dozens of neighboring apartments' trash bags in view of any apartment.

I would guess that someone who cares enough to complain about the mess caused by can collectors cares enough about this stuff to sort their own recycling very carefully.

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The garbage pickers don't believe you. I separate all my recycling carefully but I still see them going through the trash. We have official recycling bins outside, but the pickers never open them. They only open up the dumpster. I even tried giving the bottles to some pickers directly. They won't take it.

It's probably a combination of language barrier and mental illness.

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It's unfortunate that plastic garbage bags and other uncontained debris are kept out on the sidewalk in the South End in the first place. It makes for a distasteful streetscape, trashpickers or no. Beacon Hill is just as dense, so I assume they're allowed to do the same?

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I used to live in the South End, and we started using clear bags for the recyclables. They STILL ripped open all of the bags anyway with hopes of finding cans.

As for the bins, there is no space to keep them in a city condo or apartment. Do you suburbanites want a trash bin in your living space? Didn't think so.

What these people are doing should be policed. The "trash police" will ticket you for every little mistake you make, so why not them?

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I agree, I lived in the South End myself and hated when we went to single stream recycling. You had to have those blue bins in your place. When you're living in a tiny 1 room apartment, there's NO space for it. I ended up not recycling half the time just for the space thing (yeah I know, not the green thing to do)

And yes, even with clear bags, that didnt stop them, they would rip the bag open anyways. Its like "are you thick?"

I did however save my nickle bottles. And walk them over to shaw's every week. Yeah its only 25 cents or so, but hey at least I am getting my deposit money back.

I really think these people should be policed, as I said my other posts, many states saying that "picking" is illegal, and its an arrestable offense. It just prevents exactly what people are complaining about.. trash everywhere!

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Get some other Chinese ladies to yell at this Chinese lady. What's that called -- "enlist community leaders who can make a difference on the ground".

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that the city responds by sending ISD to ticket the people for having recyclables in their trash.

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Is it illegal to put recyclables in trash? I know it is in a lot of jurisdictions; I find it hard to imagine that Boston has gone that far yet.

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You could have gone to the city website and looked up "trash regulations."

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Yeah, except that the city website is wrong: For example, it tells people to put their trash out after 5PM the night before, although it's actually illegal to put it out before midnight.

And why does it say to put it out "before 7:00AM"? If your street has 11:00 AM pickup, and you put your trash out at 10:00 AM, are you in violation of the law?

And, like so many things on the city website, it doesn't actually cite the law, so there's no way of knowing if these are the actual regs, or if they are just some common sense suggestions made up by someone....

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it's actually illegal to put it out before midnight

Cite, please? I'm genuinely curious. The city has instructed residents to put trash out after 5 PM the night before (actually, my vague memory is that it used to be "after nightfall") for at least the past 40 years, long before they did so by website.

Also, trash collection times are rarely all that precise and can change - my neighborhood had mid-morning collection for years, which very abruptly shifted a couple of years ago to just after 7.

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Which states, in part:

Garbage and rubbish shall be put out for collection no earlier than the day of collection.

The city has dropped the ball on enforcing this. It'll take a group of residents to sue the city to get them to enforce the law, at which point, of course, the usual suspects will be on here complaining about busybodies.

Linky: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr410.pdf

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You keep bringing this up every time there's a trash discussion here.

Two questions for you:

Why do you care so much if trash goes out at 7 pm or midnight?

Why do you think anyone at the city level would care about this obscure state regulation you dug up, when the city's own government passed a law saying you can put out the trash the night before?

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It's not an "obscure state regulation" - it's the governing law on trash pickup. What law has the city's own government passed that says you can put out trash the night before? Cite it, please.

Here's why I care: I don't like wading through other people's trash. If you live in a neighborhood where people drive, or in a low density neighborhood, you don't get it. When you have a density of residents of one resident per linear foot of curb space or so, that's a lot of trash.

So, figuring going to and from work, out to walk the dog, out a couple of times per day on the weekend, out a couple of nights per week for shopping, errands, or dinner, I walk down my street around 30 to 35 times per week.

If people put their trash out when they were supposed to, then only 3 of those trips would I be stepping over other people's trash and looking at rats. But instead, because they put out trash the night before, around 12 to 15 times per week I need to step through trash.

It's the difference between 90% of my experience of my street being trash-free, versus only 60% of my experience of my street being trash free. That's huge.

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Just write #4 (sei) on the bags...bad Feng Shui. They won't touch them and will move on quickly.

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I often don't put my trash/recycling out in Chelsea until after I wake up around 6:30 AM. FWIW, we have the luxury of an airtight trash can & indoor recycle bin storage. Good times.
The recycling gets picked up on my block at 7AM sharp every week (we must be first on the route?), and as I often have many glass beer bottles in my bins, it only took one 3AM "wake-up call" before I learned my lesson.
I still hear them clanging around my neighborhood now & then, but at least it's not directly under my bedroom window.

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In Central Square, you're not supposed to put your trash and recyclables out till the morning of pickup day (which happen to be on separate days). Our building has very large recyclable bins (that the city provides I think) in the basement, that we just fill and then put out. The bottle/can pickers come on the morning of the pickup and pull out what they want. It can be loud, but they don't leave crap everywhere. And they never dig through the actual trash.

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Nope. In Cambridge, you can put out trash and recycling starting 6 pm the night before.

The trucks can come as early as 7 am. If you had to take out the trash the morning of collection, my trash would never make it in time.

And trash and recycling are on the same day, unless you live in a large building which pays for private trash service.

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a tall skinny black dude that starts going through stuff as soon as it gets dark the night before trash day. Sometimes he brings his son. I scared the beejezus out of them one night when I took my pit bull out for his last walk of the night and, while I was turned around locking the door, he barked and growled at them. The dog doesn't like people goin' through our trash! (Or rather, people hanging out in front of our house lookin' sketch- he goes into full guard dog mode).

Someone else has started going through the recycling bins at 3 or 4 in the morning. Since that started happening I wait to put the recycling bins out until the morning. Being on the first floor and having my bedroom windows open in the summer means I inevitably get woken up by all the clatter. Super fucking annoying.

At least since we have the liberty of having trash bins and the giant recycling bins the city gave out last year we usually don't end up with a giant mess on the street. The South End on trash days is just disgusting.

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Would it be cheaper to put those solar powered compactors in areas that are now collecting bagged trash? Then people could clear out trash whenever they had a full bag, using an rfid key to open the compactor. Tidy houses, tidy streets.

Yes, these would cost money up front - but how much does thrice weekly pickup cost? How much does rodent control and street cleaning cost? It sounds like these older, densly populated areas need something different - and, if these systems work downtown, why not in the neighborhoods?

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great idea. they could sell ad space on the sides to pay for the compactors.

I do fear that commercial businesses would start disposing trash that shouldnt be thrown away in there (it happens alot with dumpsters.. this is why most dumpsters are unlocked)

Of course, who would want to LIVE near a smelly compactor.

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How big would they have to be? The existing solar-powered compactors are just for stuff like coffee cups and fast food wrappers. How could they handle full loads of household trash, without either being huge, or being emptied all the time?

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They do this in most large cities in Germany, where many people do not have room in their apartments or houses for large bins. Though it's usually for glass only, with paper and plastic being picked up alongside regular trash.

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Everyone has access to recycling now. There is no need to charge a tax on bottles. It's inefficient to have to collect the bottles and bring them back to the store. It's a regressive tax that should be eliminated...and this would solve the bag ripping issue.

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When I moved in with my girlfriend in the South End, her parents wanted to see the Google Street View of our apartment, and this is what they saw: http://bit.ly/oUJGCb

*forehead slap*

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Looks like someone I've seen on Hyde Park ave.

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Saw 2 ladies going to town in the huge pile of trash bags on Wall Street last night.

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Instead of paying for trash removal out of property tax (i.e. divvy up the cost of trash removal based on the value of the real estate each of us owns) wouldn't it make more sense to pay for trash removal by charging a per-pound tax on the raw materials content of products (i.e. divvy up the cost of trash removal based on how much trash we create?)

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Why are there so many references to peoples race/ethnicity and no mention of "white" folks (i.e. "small Asian lady" and "skinny black dude")?

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People weren't saying that "I'm sick of all those Chinese and Black people tearing up the trash". They are saying that specific individuals who are old, female, and chinese and skinny, black, male, and with their kid were tearing through trash.

Note that, in this case, such racial identifiers were descriptive of individuals and offered with no implied stereotype . If I said that a fat old white guy with a red nose and gin blossoms was tearing through my trash (like the guy in our neighborhood), would you have a problem with that?

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