|WORDS OF WISDOM|As in any city, littering continues to be an enormous yet frequently ignored detriment to Philadelphia. Perhaps the issue of dumping seems so common and trivial in comparison to more severe crimes, that it is virtually ignored. However, the consequences that ensue from this seemingly trivial practice are troubling.
"There aren't many things that are universally cool, and it's cool not to litter. I'd never do it."
The photographs in this blog post document an area of North Philadelphia near the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Diamond Street. An individual walking along this street can find various plastics, food items, jagged wooden edges, and paint cans with potentially harmful chemicals. Ironically, some of these things are directly next to signs which state that dumping is punishable by a fine. The litter in this area is not limited to simple candy bar wrappers and trash left by careless people. Entire floor rugs are rolled up and left within the overgrown weeds, making it obvious that people feel as if this space is worth nothing more than their useless, bulky garbage.
This waste can harm citizens, homes, and animals. First of all, plastics irresponsibly thrown onto the streets take years to decompose; rain could cause them to flow into surrounding drainage systems and waterways. There is plastic in the bottles and buckets that are thrown in this area - plastic that could be recycled and reused, saving us all money in the long run. The remnants of whatever was once in these containers (and whatever happens to them over time in the hot sun) can be extremely harmful to the environment and all who inhabit it. In addition to causing damage to infrastructure, animals and small children could mistakenly ingest litter and suffer damaging effects. Also, waste produces unhygienic conditions that are ideal for disease-causing insects to thrive.
Realistically, one huge cleanup of these types of areas will not solve the enormous problem of litter and pollution in Philadelphia. It is probably very easy to observe a lot completely full of trash and decide that your small contribution will not have a significant effect. If places like this North Philadelphia intersection were more regularly maintained, people may be less likely to see it as a potential place for littering. Perhaps a monthly clean-up team could be put into action so that conditions do not become severe enough that people disregard it entirely. After assessing the repercussions, it becomes obvious that awareness of the harmful effects of dumping is a crucial step toward a safer and healthier Philadelphia.
Quite obviously, cleaning up the Ridge Avenue and Diamond Street intersection would do more than create sanitary and hygienic conditions for the people and environment; it would also make this area more aesthetically pleasing! Perhaps cleaning polluted sectors such as this one would attract people to the lesser known areas of the City of Brotherly Love!
Although a common motto tells us that what is on the inside counts more than external appearance, it is imperative in this case to refine the outside before people can discover the hidden beauty of Philadelphia.
Blog written by Rajvi Patel
Photos by John Masterson