Trash talk: Bedford-Stuyvesant residents push for more trash cans

Cory Choy believes the sky is the limit when it comes to trash cans in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Photo by Ben Verde

Bedford-Stuyvesant residents are urging the city to place more trash cans in their neighborhood, which they claim sees more litter than Brooklyn’s ritzier areas because of a shortage of garbage receptacles. 

“I go to Williamsburg, and I see on their commercial block down Bedford Avenue, on every single corner, not only will there be one trash can, there will actually be up to two or three trash cans on every single corner for blocks and blocks,” said Bed-Stuy local Cory Choy. 

Trash cans are particularly lacking along the busy, commercial corridors, causing litter to pile up, Choy added. 

“There either is not a trash can where there should be a trash can, or there aren’t enough trash cans,” said Cory Choy, a 15-year Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who launched a digital organizing campaign to bring more bins to the neighborhood.   

According to Choy, the Department of Sanitation removed a number of wastebaskets in the neighborhood years ago after residents began illegally dumping household trash into them, a tactic the agency confirmed they sometimes use when bins are misused. 

The city has removed trash cans in multiple neighborhoods, such as when they removed over 200 litter bins overnight due to household trash being disposed in them, despite complaints of litter issues, according to the New York Times.

But Choy said removing the bins did nothing to deter the trash problem, and compared it to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s program that removed trash cans in subway stations in an effort to reduce litter and track fires, which was scrapped after the agency found more efficient ways to keep stations clean.   

To gauge his neighbors’ opinions on the issue, Choy is distributing a Google sheet for locals to input data on where they think new cans are needed. Since launching the form last week, he says the responses he’s gotten show a real yearning for more services in the neighborhood. 

“There’s basically two responses that I get,” he said. “I get ‘this is a great idea, wow.’ And then I get ‘gosh I also have been trying to get a trash can on X-Y corner forever, I call 311 constantly and get no response.’”

Once a significant amount of data is collected, Choy plans on delivering it to the Department of Sanitation, local councilmembers, and Community Board 3. 

But they have an uphill battle ahead of them. A dramatic loss in revenue for the city has led to over $100 million in cuts to sanitation services in the most recent budget, which has led to trash pile-ups across the city. 

Among the programs slashed by the city, litter basket collection was cut substantially, with service decreasing by more than 60 percent compared to last summer, according to the city. 

“In the face of economic hardship, and to ensure the City can continue to devote resources t essential safety, health, shelter, and food security needs, the City made a number of tough budget cuts, including to some of DSNY’s collection and cleaning programs,” said sanitation department spokeswoman Belinda Mager. 

The department said they welcome input from community members but cannot commit to any new receptacles just yet.

Bedford-Stuyvesant residents can fill out the “Bed Stuy Strong, Safe and Sanitary” survey here.