City of Columbia Solid Waste Division workers hope people will stop knocking garbage cans over and scattering trash to make their jobs more safe and less difficult.
Trash and recycling bins spill out on Greene Street. While the issue may not happen every week, it happens often and tenants say that they have been dealing with this issue for an extended amount of time.
USC Senior Chris Mallon said it’s a little upsetting when he walks out to see his garbage knocked over and that it doesn’t make the neighborhood look good.
By Cecilia Brown
The wind wasn’t the only thing causing destruction this week near downtown Columbia. Thursday morning, multiple garbage cans lay on their sides in the University Hill neighborhood near Five Points.
Neighbors and tenants say they witness this ongoing nuisance when they wake up to the sound of their carts getting knocked over in the middle of the night, or when they walk outside to see trash littering the streets and sidewalks.
“I've actually heard the kids tipping the cans over late at night. I've gone running outside and literally chased the culprits, some of whom live in (USC dormitory) Capstone,” Gregg Street resident David Axe said. “One time I caught them and lectured them until they apologized and put the cans right.”
Axe said he tries to clean up the mess and has contacted Columbia police to report the damage. Columbia police were unable to provide statistics on any arrests that may have been made for vandalism.
“They're always sympathetic but there's not much they can do,” Axe said in a Facebook post about the issue.
For the city garbage workers, the vandalism creates extra work and an unsafe environment.
“It’s very aggravating and it’s very dangerous because we have cars coming on the side of these roads and we have to pick up what they’ve messed up,” said David Howard, a garbage collector for the city’s solid waste division.
USC students who are tenants in the area are disgusted by the routine trashing of their neighborhood.
“Think if it was your own trashcan and having to wake up and pick up your trash first thing in the morning on the way to class,” Taylor Holman said.
Holman has been a tenant on the 1800 block of Greene Street for two years and said she waits to put her carts at the curb until the morning of collection day to avoid picking up spilled garbage.
The City of Columbia Solid Waste Division workers said that it isn’t their responsibility to pick up the scattered trash when they’re out collecting waste from the city-issued green and blue carts.
“It’s a big issue because there’s garbage everywhere, so it just makes everything look worse than what’s going on in the area,” said USC junior Aidan O’Donnell. He lives on Blossom Street and sees both streets as problem areas, especially since they are main thoroughfares for campus visitors.
USC junior Kory Middleton said he is tired of dragging his dog away from the smelly trash along Greene Street. “It gets in the way. There’s food spilled out all over the road or on the sidewalk. It stinks and it’s pretty aggravating.”
“I feel like it’s usually just one person who comes back and is like in some sort of rage and just knocks everything over,” said USC senior Chris Mallon, a tenant of the 1800 Greene Street block. “You can hear it throughout the night all the time. People walking by smashing cans and stuff.”
Howard, the sanitation worker, issued a plea.
“Please do not do it, save our jobs from being really hard. We try to keep USC neighborhoods clean, but we need the tenants to help the workers keep it clean,” Howard said.