Boston Has Already Removed 200 Tons of Trash from the Streets

And as the snow continues to melt, there's a lot more where that came from.

There comes a time each year—particularly after a year like this one—when Boston finally stops complaining about huge piles of snow…only to begin complaining about the huge piles of trash the snow has left behind.

Enormous snowfalls have a way of masking the trash that’s on the ground. But as warmer temperatures arrive, we’re starting to see the results of our filthy ways, and they’re not pretty. Inch by inch, the massive melt is revealing our slovenly side. Citizens Connect, the app where residents can request city services, is positively littered (sorry) with complaints about the trash on the streets.

The problem is so acute that City Council held a hearing with officials in charge of city services to discuss a cleanup strategy. According to the Boston Globe, Interim Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy came armed with a stunning statistic:

Since overnight street-sweeping crews began work last Tuesday, some 200 tons of trash have been removed. And the work is just beginning…

That’s 400,000 pounds, or more than half a pound of trash per resident of Boston. We’re not the only city to be staring down this problem. In New York City, people tend to blame the filthy streets on their own humanity.

“Nothing like the death of one season and the rebirth of another to remind us that New Yorkers are disgusting slobs with zero respect for the environment,” writes New York Magazine.

The New York Times refers to the collected trash as “the vices and indulgences of a city beaten down by harrowing waves of ice, sleet, slush and arctic winds.”

Perhaps we’re being too hard on ourselves. The snow isn’t so much revealing our typical sins as making us more sinful. Citizens who wouldn’t otherwise dump their household trash into overflowing public cans were perhaps driven by the dysfunction of the normal trash pickup system. Dog walkers who might otherwise put their bags of dog waste into a trash can might have been confronted with a can buried in several feet of icy snow. The snow doesn’t reveal our dark side; it brings it out. Hopefully, though, the spring brings out a newer, cleaner, more civically responsible version of us.