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My turn, Susan Williams: Trash collection part of city’s litter problem

By Susan Williams

I personally believe litter in Salisbury is a problem that will take not only the efforts of the city but also its citizens to improve.

I have lived in Fulton Heights since 1993 and the volume of litter in my opinion increased when our trash collection was converted to a truck, a driver and an automated arm. The glory days of city employees rolling your trash bin to the truck and having them empty the contents directly into the truck while also collecting extra bags and items that did not fit in the bin have ended, I suspect, with overall cost as the driving factor.

With the automated process came the added litter on our streets. Then compound that with the volume that is just blatantly thrown out by disrespectful people on purpose. The end result is the dirty city Salisbury has become. Fast food wrappings, plastic drink bottles, smoking paraphernalia and even the ad papers the Post distributes to those who do not have a subscription contribute to the eyesore.

My husband, myself and our dog, Sawyer, walk the boundaries of the Fulton Heights neighborhood daily with our numerous bags and litter sticks. We all needed the exercise and, quite frankly, we got tired of seeing all the trash strewn all over the sidewalks and roadside. It is embarrassing and reflects poorly to visitors and residents that live here.

We have been doing this for almost two years and know our efforts and the efforts of others are making a difference, but I am quite certain that if we stopped tomorrow there would be a very short window of time before it would look like the first day we started.

I think it is time for the city to look at what could be done to improve the automated program since we personally witness during pick up weeks a major increase in litter that never makes it into the trucks.

Yes, the bins are full to the gills with overstuffed bags, but many are still being placed to the curb facing the wrong way, even sideways, which does not lead to the system working as effectively as it was designed to work.

Yes, there is writing on the top of the bin communicating what way it should face. Yes, the city continues to communicate that in the water bills, but perhaps at this point an arrow decal on the top instead of camouflaged printing would help. Spray paint it, even. This simple remedy could be the beginning of eliminating some of the volume.

We have witnessed the process over and over and understand that the top needs to swing open fully to allow all the contents to fall quickly into the truck. If it is facing the wrong way, the top does not swing open properly and some waste gets caught on the lid. The bin gets placed back on the ground and, along with it, comes the trapped garbage as the truck speeds off.

It would be nice if residents picked up what did not get into the truck when they gather their bins, but that is not happening.

Good luck even getting them to round up the bins and get them off the streets.

Windy days elevate the percentage of litter and hamper the process further. Bins with no lids, which I attempted to report, create their own set of problems.

Many use their recycle bins for extra garbage and non-recyclable items which contaminates the recycling stream. We have seen grass clippings and yard waste in both the trash bins and recycle bins.

Improvements need to be made, and it is going to take all of us to pitch in and pick up. You can’t change the mindset of those that think our streets are their dumping grounds, but we can improve the process and perhaps inspire others to pick up a stick and make it better.

Susan Williams has lived in Salisbury’s Fulton Heights neighborhood since 1993.

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