Southern Brooklyn

New Can? Here Comes Trash City


It’s been just two days since this garbage can appeared on Avenue Z and East 14th Street, and it’s already overflowing. Residential pickup for East 14th Street is Tuesdays and Fridays, so this can should have been emptied yesterday. It wasn’t.

But beyond the Sanitation Department’s failure to deliver service, we’re getting to witness a very interesting phenomenon with this newly placed trash bin. This corner was previously garbage free. Sure, you had the occasional drifting plastic bag or paper cup, but compared to the sidewalk around the train station, it was positively speckless.

As you can already see in the photo above, that’s changing. Trash from the packed can is falling onto the sidewalk, soon to be taken for a ride by a gust of wind.

No can, no garbage in the streets. Give a can, it’s trash city.

That seems to support the theory from Community Board 11, where they’ve asked the city to remove all the public trash cans from commercial corridors. The idea was that people would hold on to their garbage until they get where they’re going, so public cans wouldn’t overflow and clutter the streets. According to reports in April, the experiment worked and streets were cleaner within weeks.

I asked a public official about implementing that program in Sheepshead Bay. Since I can’t remember the exact response, I’m not going to name the official, but the general sentiments were as follows: Sheepshead Bay is not like some other neighborhoods. People in our neighborhood will not put their trash in their pocket and wait for a garbage can, they’ll just drop it in the street. We need more pickups, not less cans.

All I know is that there was never a problem with trash on the corner of Avenue Z and East 14th Street, and it seems like one’s emerging. It’s now a local proving ground for Community Board 11’s theory, if only in reverse, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it over the next few weeks to see how it shapes up.

Comment policy


  1. The public official has it right. IF they pick up the garbage more, then we will have cleaner streets.

    Expecting people to hold onto trash before they get home? Take a look at the garbage lying in the streets around the subway station. Like the corner of E 16th and Ave Z, where the vacant lot is. Sure, it isn't bags of garbage, but it is a lot. Other examples, just follow the subway tracks, like below the tracks at Ave Y. People are slobs, and folks dropping garbage from their windows while driving down a street; or ones who decide that bringing their household garbage to dump into the street can. Which one is worst?

    It's really a case of whether people can start to take pride in where they live and to help keep the streets clean, rather than expecting others to clean up after them.

  2. What I mean is I'm wondering if some of the trash is from people who get off the bus and walk towards the train station using 14th Street or stopping at that corner cafe first, and now that I thought of it, maybe even returning home from that same side.

    We could always try to punish people for littering with canings? Works for Singapore, you can't even spit on their streets and some foods are illegal to open in the public (e.g. durian).

  3. Yeah the underpass for the tracks on Avenue Y is just a dumping ground. This past weekend I passed an old mattress there that was just propped up next to a black bag of garbage.

  4. I carry my garbage home if I cannot find a receptacle to put it in. Women always have tote bags so it is not a big deal. Too bad we dont give out tickets for this anymore. Sheepshead Bay Road is an absolute disgrace…I would love to get a fire house and wash the sidewalks.

  5. Oooh, caning might be a little extreme. Making them do time cleaning the streets might be more apropos.

    And let's not start with Durians. In fact, let's pretend they don't exist.

  6. I would be watching to see what kind of garbage is going in. Maybe the people from the spy equipment store a few doors down can help with some hidden cameras, focused on the can.

  7. I agree, canings would require specialized equipment and personnel… How about public spankings instead?

    “Naughty Litterer” – I see a new Penthouse reality show already!

  8. The situation is the same in Manhattan Beach. There are now three litter baskets near Ocean Avenue and Oriental Blvd (one in front of the church – midblock). All are overflowing to the point that loose garbage is blowing onto the church lawn, an absolute disgrace. I don't remember the last time they were emptied but I might start keeping track now.

    What do you expect when Sanitation won't empty the cans? It has to be Sanitation's fault because there is no BID in Manhattan Beach to blame.

    I guess the “hold it” philosophy is the reason why after all these years we still don't have any public toilets in this City. (Yes I know we have about six, sounds like a good number for 8 million people. What would we do without Starbucks?)


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