WBEZ | sanitation http://www.wbez.org/tags/sanitation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago garbage collectors: Will they really take that? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>WBEZ listener Ken Coulman has been having dirty thoughts, specifically regarding the garbage in his alleyway. He&rsquo;s seen all kinds of dumping habits, from random contractors offloading items behind his house to neighbors sneakily leaving oversized items in alleyways not their own. In their stealthy haste, they make a mess.</p><p>As a homeowner in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood, these behaviors troubled Ken. Recently, when he spotted a stack of old tires piled by the garbage, he called Curious City with this question:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ken_curiouscity.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 200px; float: right;" title="Ken Coulman asked Curious City about the limits of garbage removal. (Photo courtesy Ken Coulman)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the city&rsquo;s official policy on garbage pick up? Do they take anything that you put out?</em></p><p>While taking on Ken&rsquo;s question, we learned that a pretty straightforward pickup policy provides some city workers with a unique &mdash; and sometimes unflattering &mdash; view of life in Chicago.</p><p><strong>Size doesn&rsquo;t matter</strong></p><p>For our answer, we turned to Gloria Pittman, a supervisor at Chicago&rsquo;s Bureau of Sanitation, which serves 600,000 households in Chicago. These households are limited to single-family homes or buildings with four units or less. Pittman oversees garbage collection for seven wards from Pilsen to Jackson Park. She&rsquo;s previously worked on the front lines as a garbage collector herself.</p><p>We met Pittman at her office on the Southwest Side and asked Ken&rsquo;s question: Is there a limit to what you&rsquo;ll take?</p><p>&ldquo;We will pick up almost anything,&rdquo; Pittman said. &ldquo;It is our objective to pick up everything that&rsquo;s in front of the truck, be it trash, sofas, on occasion electronics such as refrigerators, stoves.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, size doesn&rsquo;t matter. There&rsquo;s no size limit to what residents are allowed to throw out, as long as it&rsquo;s regular household garbage.</p><p>The department accommodates big items with what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;a special pick up.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s simply a heads-up to garbage collectors to carve out more time. While picking up a few regular canisters outside one house takes about 30 seconds, disposing of something more sizable, like a sectional couch, may take a few minutes. That heads-up can help make the process more efficient.</p><p>Pittman said collectors are usually notified by supervisors who monitor the alleys. But preferably, the notification originates from residents who call Chicago&rsquo;s 311 service line. Pittman says you can <a href="https://servicerequest.cityofchicago.org/web_intake_chic/Controller?op=locform&amp;invSRType=SCC&amp;invSRDesc=Garbage%20Pickup&amp;locreq=Y">request additional garbage bins</a> online, if need be.</p><p>&ldquo;Notification from the resident really helps us out a great deal,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p>Chicagoans in the tattling mood can also help by <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/streets_san/svcs/sanitation_ordinance.html">reporting persistent sanitation code violations</a>.</p><p><strong>Down in&nbsp;the dumps &hellip; at a special collection</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+2.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" /><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+1.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; margin: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; float: right;" /></p><p>To see how a regular pick-up differs from a special pick-up, we ventured into the back alleys in Chicago&#39;s Gage Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/Garbage+gifs/USE+3.gif" style="width: 320px; height: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 0px; float: right;" />A blue sanitation truck rolled through a snow-covered alley. Two workers hooked trash bins onto something called &ldquo;the flip,&rdquo; which, as its name implies, flips bins upside down into the truck. A heavy blade crushed and scooped the trash into the inner chamber.</p><p>Hook. Flip. Crush. Repeat.</p><div>The workers had a nice rhythm &mdash; until they ran across what looked like the remnants of an extreme home makeover. Pittman was on site and surveyed the heap of furniture.</div><p>&ldquo;This is a loveseat, a desk, parts of a table, an end table, a couple mattresses, some chairs and an ottoman,&rdquo; she said, laughing.</p><p>The garbage collectors declined an interview. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of dangerous when I talk and work,&rdquo; said one as he reached for a piece of furniture.</p><p>And he was right. There was heavy lifting to do. A crushing blade tore through wood and nails. Sharp debris spit out the back. I watched a mattress flop into the back of the truck. It splintered into pieces.</p><p>&ldquo;And as you see, the blade is breaking that up and taking it on in,&rdquo; Pittman observed. &ldquo;It basically makes room as it goes along.&rdquo;</p><p>Eight minutes later, it&rsquo;s all been gobbled up.</p><p>&ldquo;As you can see, everything is gone. Hopefully the residents are happy,&rdquo; said Pittman.</p><p><strong>Some limits do apply</strong></p><p>Even though there&rsquo;s no size limit, Pittman noted that there are other kinds of limits. Most Chicago residents think, &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s garbage to you, it should be garbage to us,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s simply not the case, she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pittman%20mug%20shot.png" style="float: left; height: 162px; width: 240px;" title="Gloria Pittman supervises trash collection for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, and was a previous garbage collector. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />For example, say you rehab a room by yourself. You can throw the debris in the garbage. It&rsquo;s no problem, at least when it comes to city policy. But if a contractor does it for you, that contractor is required to take away the refuse. But not all residents abide by that rule; Pittman has seen plenty of instances where an entire gut renovation has been dumped in an alley. In those cases, the department has a conversation with the resident.</p><p>&ldquo;We try not to fine,&rdquo; said Pittman, noting that the department focuses on communicating expectations with residents. &ldquo;We want compliance.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a hassle when residents don&rsquo;t bag their trash properly. &ldquo;When they have to clean up things that people have just thrown out willy nilly &mdash; that kind of breaks up their rhythm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Another problem is fly dumping. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where a large truck or car has dumped a large amount of garbage &mdash; usually in desolate areas,&rdquo; explained Pittman.</p><p>The Bureau of Sanitation will not collect hazardous materials and certain electronics such as computers and cell phones. Residents can dispose of these items, such as household cleaners and oil-based paints, at the city&rsquo;s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility. The city provides information about <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/hccrf/household_chemicalscomputerrecyclingfacilityoverview.html">that facility and what it accepts</a>.</p><p>The worst thing Pittman&rsquo;s ever run across? Dead animals and human waste. Pittman said residents with dead pets should call 311; a refrigerated truck will do the pick up. And as for human waste, well, come on now.</p><p>Pittman let us in on one of the classic jokes among garbage collectors. &ldquo;You can find out a lot about people with the trash that they throw out.&rdquo;<a name="pittmanguide"></a></p><p><strong>A reason for hope</strong></p><p>I followed up with our question-asker, Ken Coulman, to get his reaction to all of this. The dead animal and human waste details certainly grossed him out.</p><p>&ldquo;Eeh &hellip; that&rsquo;s not cool,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But when I explained the no-size limit policy, he was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not at all what I was expecting to find out,&rdquo; he said after a long pause.</p><p>He was also relieved.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s very interesting because I&rsquo;ve always kind of felt like you&rsquo;re probably doing something illegal by putting those big items out there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s helpful to know that you don&rsquo;t need to be sneaky about it. You can call 311 and give them a heads up and be civil about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To Ken, this is good news. He hopes that now that people know they don&rsquo;t have to be sneaky, they&rsquo;ll stop being so sloppy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s hoping, Ken.</p><p><em>Deborah Jian Lee is a freelance journalist and author. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/deborahjianlee">@deborahjianlee</a>.</em></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.298379093615614" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="2078" id="doc_31924" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/213213263/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-18roq0sks1i1w0u8ngou&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-garbage-collectors-will-they-really-take-109881 Global Activism: ToiletHackers saves lives through sanitation http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-toilethackers-saves-lives-through-sanitation-109784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/toilethACERKS.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-513ab75d-747c-8e30-9068-28fd00f0cd7e">It&rsquo;s Thursday and time for our Global Activism series. Each Thursday we feature someone trying to make the world a better place. Michael Lindenmayer was working on a slum project in a developing country when encountered a child who was up to her waist in human excrement. The child was in an area where slum dwellers defecated in the open. Lindenmayer &nbsp;then promised himself that he would do all in his power to combat the problem - and the idea for ToiletHackers was born.<iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137073983&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Michael will tell us about how far he&rsquo;s come since making that promise to bring to people in developing countries something we take for granted - toilets:</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-513ab75d-74d5-8bc9-4e01-3b58caa3fad0">&ldquo;In the mid 90s, I was returning from a project in a slum. I saw a little girl struggling to climb out of a ditch. When I lifted her up, I realized she was up to her waist in human waste. She had fallen into the area where slum dwellers did open defecation. I saw this scene over and over again all around the world. I vowed to myself that one day I would face down this beast of a problem. I have climbed some steep mountains in my life, but this one is the single biggest challenge I have ever tackled. It is a stinky, messy and totally underfunded problem. This is just the kind of challenge I love addressing.</p><p>With the arrival of my daughter, I am reminded daily that every girl should have access to health and hygiene and that no girl should ever face what that girl did in the slum that day I pulled her out of pit.&rdquo;</p><p><em>The Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host Michael at a panel discussion called, &ldquo;International Women&rsquo;s Day Global Health Symposium&rdquo; as part of the Women and Global Development Forum on Thursday, March 6th at the Fairmont Chicago. </em></p></p> Thu, 27 Feb 2014 11:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-toilethackers-saves-lives-through-sanitation-109784 Worldview 1.23.12 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12312-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2012-january/2012-01-23/toilet1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, <em>Worldview</em> presents a special called <em>Latitudes</em>. Toilets are a basic necessity, though some 2.6 billion people don’t have them and more than a million die from sanitation related diseases every year.&nbsp; <em>Latitudes</em> explores efforts to improve access to clean water and clean toilets around the globe. <em>Latitudes</em> also looks back at the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and visits a Colombian gold mining community.</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 15:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12312-0 Global Activism: WGN's Randi Belisomo travels to Haiti in memory of her late husband http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/global-activism-wgns-randi-belisomo-travels-haiti-memory-her-late-husban <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/water1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Every Thursday on <em><a href="http://wbez.org/globalactivism" target="_blank">Global Activism</a>,</em> we hear from a Chicagoan who works to make the world a better place. Today, we focus on two individuals steeped in the world’s water crisis.</p><p>Water plays a central role in global poverty. Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. When an individual takes a five-minute shower, he or she uses more clean water than a typical person in a slum uses in a day. Access to sanitation is so underdeveloped that more people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet.</p><p>No event in our hemisphere put the water crisis front and center more than last year’s cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti. The tragedy also highlighted one central truth of the global water crisis: the problem is an issue of access, not scarcity.</p><p>Today we meet Michael Mantel, president &amp; CEO of <a href="http://www.water.cc/" target="_blank">Living Water International</a>, an organization that implements water solutions in 25 developing countries. We also speak to <a href="http://www.wgntv.com/news/wgntv-randi-belisomo-bio,0,1841977.story" target="_blank">Randi Belisomo</a>, a reporter for WGN-TV who just returned from a reporting trip with LWI in Haiti. While in the earthquake-ravaged country, Randi visited a memorial well built in honor of her late husband, Chicago reporter <a href="http://www.cltv.com/about/cltv-hernandezgomez-bio,0,946503.story" target="_blank">Carlos Hernandez Gomez</a>. She will chronicle her trip all next week on WGN’s <a href="http://www.wgntv.com/news/newsatnine/" target="_blank"><em>News at Nine</em></a>.</p><p>Michael and Randi join us to discuss water, both as a solution and central problem, in international development.</p><p><em>You can read Randi’s blog posts from Haiti <a href="http://www.wgntv.com/blogs/journey-to-haiti/" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>We invite listeners to suggest locals who we should feature include in </em><a href="http://wbez.org/globalactivism" target="_blank">Global Activism</a><em>. Special thanks to Megan Moriarity for suggesting Living Water International.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 15:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/global-activism-wgns-randi-belisomo-travels-haiti-memory-her-late-husban