Stop Trashing East Passyunk

Philly needs to enroll in Garbage Bag 101.

Oh Philadelphia, can’t we have nice things? Can’t we even have trashy things? Apparently not, not even in our nicest, least seemingly trashy neighborhoods. For lo, the Daily News reports that the pride of city redevelopment, East Passyunk, is slowly filling with garbage.

For those of you living under a rock (or perhaps a stinking trash mound), East Passyunk is pretty much the winningest neighborhood in Philly right now, attracting tourist, hipster and local alike with its combination of both classic- and nouveau-delicious eats, and atmospheric singing fountains (plus bars, record stores and Best-of-Philly-winning bakeries). As one Facebook commenter on my previous post extolling the demerits of the Piazza at Schmidt’s advised, all you have to do is take a look at this stretch of diagonal road to see what’s right with our city.

And yet somehow, according to the East Passyunk Revitalization Corporation, even the residents of this civic jewel seem to not give a care about keeping their streets filth-free. The Corporation bought and installed 30 wire trash bins, which the city had recently removed (to the chagrin of many residents) and replaced with fewer and farther-between Big Belly Solar Compactors. It was an effort on the Corporation’s part calculated to help the neighborhood, increasing trash-can convenience and access for visitors and residents, and a seemingly intuitive move: more trash cans, less waste on the streets.

If only. It seems that wherever there’s an open trash container with no device to limit the volume of filth we’re able to stuff into it, Philadelphians are happy to pile on bags of household garbage, mounds of packing material, pounds of chicken bones and, yes, an entire couch. Or anyway, so states the Daily News article.

And as a resident of East Passyunk, unfortunately, so state I.

Since moving to the neighborhood a year ago, I’ve been continually astonished by the joys this pocket of Philly has to offer: the 13th street Christmas lights display, the chess players by the fountain, the delicacies at Artisan Boulangerie Pattiserie. And yet every week or so, walking past the bustling patio at Cantina on my way to the Acme or the gym, I find myself tiptoeing over myriad bags of garbage, fording rivulets of trash juice to cross the street. I know South Philly wasn’t built to contain the volume of inhabitants it currently boasts, but seriously guys, come on: Is it really so hard to keep your chicken bones in the bin for a day or two? Is it necessary to pile dead branches by the municipal trash can so that they practically stab me in the face when I walk by?

I could talk about the volume of waste we as a society seem hell-bent on producing, and how much that scares me, but I know you’re tired of hearing me use this city as a subject example of things wrong in the world—and frankly, I’m tired of doing it. Because if we love this town, and I know we do, then we might need to suffer a few inconveniences for its sake: Keep a few more bags of trash around the house a few more days rather than chuck them in the nearest street bin. Consider it a gesture of good faith in our streets, and in each other.