Philadelphia’s Block Captain Program
This article is by our Chief Sustainability Officer, Sam Holloschutz, and is informed by his own experience as a block captain in Philadelphia.
Does your block need a trash can? Have you ever wanted to hold a cleanup for your neighborhood? It’s easy—become a block captain! The Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC), part of the Streets Department’s Sanitation Division, is the group you want. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to getting your very own trash can:
- Contact PMBC by calling (215) 685-3981 to receive a petition. You can also visit their office at 2600 West Glenwood Ave. You can drop off your old electronics for recycling while there.
- Get 51% of your neighbors to sign the petition and return it to PMBC.
- You will be assigned a Clean Block Officer (CBO) determined by your ward. The CBO will call and arrange your trash can. They will deliver it right to you.
You will need to secure your trash can and maintain it. This means you are responsible for placing trash bags and emptying the can when full. The streets department will actually pick up your bags on trash day. Just place them next to the can and they will be collected. My can is chained to a stop sign on my corner and I have also attached a plastic bag dispenser onto the sign as part of my civic association duties. Be on the lookout for them, Fairmounters! Dog droppings were a big problem in my immediate area but the can has all but corrected the situation. Dumping of household trash is a valid concern, but I have found that once PMBC gave me a “No Dumping $300 fine” sign, the issue went away.
Your CBO will also help you coordinate Saturday cleanups, give you supplies such as bags and brooms, and the Streets Department will pick up all the trash you and your neighbors collect. What better way is there to meet and grow close to your neighbors than a cleanup? I suspect your block will start to look much cleaner after you bring your community together. Be a leader and affect change!
Please feel free to leave your questions in the comments. I’m happy to discuss my experiences with the street cans and PMBC.
In my next post, I will discuss organizing a large-scale community cleanup. Stayed tuned for that.