Pitch In or Pack Out

When the Chicago Park District first began removing trash cans from public parks last July to “discourage littering,” local residents were skeptical.

“In a perfect world, everybody would carry their trash home with them,” one park-goer told the Chicago Tribune. “But we live in Chicago.”

Yet nearly one year after the first trash can was removed, Chicago is looking more like a perfect world than ever, says Rodger Konow, region manager for the city's Park District. “We've discovered that the experiment actually has worked. Each week, we check with our labor force, and the amount of debris in the parks is less,” he says.

Konow is quick to point out that the city has not eliminated trash depositories altogether. Instead, the Park District has placed large bins in a central area, where trash is sheltered from wind that once scattered debris from overflowing trash cans.

Not everyone is pleased with the Park District's new policy, however. Conscientious dog-walkers want a place to dispose of their pets' feces in the park instead of being forced to carry this material home with them. Heeding these residents' concerns, the Park District is purchasing special receptacles for the disposal of what Konow calls “biology break” remains.

In light of the experiment's initial success, the Park District has removed trash cans from half of Chicago's 550 parks. And, Konow says that the Park District will continue to evaluate results. “No one likes change,” he says. “But [removing these cans] has been very helpful.”

Sources: Chicago Tribune and Chicago Park District