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Get informed. Get involved. Get engaged.

Don’t let up. Find out who represents you on the City Council and reach out to let them know you want the city to take action on our trash and litter crisis.

Here, you can find instructions on how to sign up to comment on council meetings and how to speak at public hearings. You can review the agendas on the calendar here and watch meetings live here.

The official website for the Office of the Mayor provides basic information and a contact number, but you can also reach out using this form.


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Ways you can help keep Philly clean

Find details on the who, where, when, and how to report illegal dumping using a convenient online form or by contacting 311.

If you and your neighbors want to see your block cleaned up, sign up for Glitter’s service here.

Live or work in North Philly? Take a look at Judith Robinson’s Susquehanna Clean Up/Pick Up Inc.

Want to organize a street cleanup? The Philadelphia Citizen has everything you need to know to get started.

Check out CleanPHL’s zero waste guide and the Recycling Resource Finder to learn how to dispose of other types of waste—like cooking oil, electronics, and scrap wood—responsibly.

Are you a data hound? Open Data Philly has statistics on just about everything you want to know about Philadelphia but are afraid to ask. The Litter Index compares the relative cleanliness of areas around the city. There is also a helpful explainer video on how it works! You can also play with an interactive map of the Litter Index here.

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Here's how

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about cleaning up the city’s trash problem, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses

Where’s Parker’s 100-Day Cleaning Plan?

The Parker administration has touted a “new approach” to clean and green Philly. More than 100 days in, Philly’s former litter czar sees the same old-same old — and offers concrete ideas for positive change

Where’s Parker’s 100-Day Cleaning Plan?

The Parker administration has touted a “new approach” to clean and green Philly. More than 100 days in, Philly’s former litter czar sees the same old-same old — and offers concrete ideas for positive change

When the Parker administration began in January, they released a 100-day plan that included three key goals that they wished to accomplish to set the stage for a “cleaner and greener” Philadelphia. Those 100 days have come and gone, yet the litter and dumping remain with no signs of hope that things are going to improve.

Here’s what the administration promised to do:

1. “Announce a new approach to addressing persistent quality-of-life issues (short-dumping, litter, graffiti, potholes, and abandoned cars), responding first to the hardest-hit neighborhoods, using a public ticker to show progress, and partnering with community-led clean-up efforts.”

This is hard to critique because there has been nothing of substance that even comes close to resembling a “new approach.” Yes, they have announced a few strategies, and the phrase “clean and green” gets repeated ad nauseam. But as I wrote about in a previous Citizen article, the reactive ideas that were presented in Mayor Parker’s budget for cleaning and greening get the basics wrong. I was further astonished during Clean and Green Director Carlton Williams’ City Council budget hearing testimony.

When explaining the administration’s strategy to have clean-up crews in each district, Williams said that these crews would service neighborhoods before trash day to clean up. This prompted Council President Kenyatta Johnson to state the obvious to a seasoned bureaucrat who has dealt with the city’s trash and litter for a few decades: Wouldn’t it be smarter to have the crews clean up after trash day? This level of “strategic thinking” from the appointed leader of our clean and green efforts leaves no room for hope that this city is going to get any cleaner.

Also, I actually got really excited when I saw the phrase in the 100-Day Plan’s first goal of “using a public ticker to show progress.” One hundred days later, where is this public ticker and what progress can it show? According to Sanitation spokesperson Keisha McCarty-Skelton, “The Public Ticker has been created but we are verifying the data from other agencies for public use.”

Given the importance of transparency and using data to solve problems, I will be waiting with bated breath on this ticker.

2. “Announce continued expansion of PHL Taking Care of Business (PHL TCB), including covering more commercial corridors, more frequent cleaning of existing corridors, and increasing the number of participating organizations.”

Yes, this was in Parker’s proposed budget, so I guess you can count that as an announcement. But, this is predicated on the belief that City Council is going to rubber stamp the administration’s budget. So we’ll have to wait and see if that goal, as reactive as it is, actually comes to fruition.

When asked for details on the administration’s new approach to combating litter and illegal dumping, McCarty-Skelton answered they will use data to, “[implement] impactful strategies, program enhancements, and legislative changes that support our clean and green vision.” Sounds a lot like the original Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet vision. Of course, I’m very pleased to see that the work I had done is carrying over, but I hope that they take more strategies from that successful playbook.

3. “Convene a Clean and Green Cabinet to organize government agencies, businesses, community partners and other stakeholders around a comprehensive and data-driven action plan to reduce the generation of waste, increase rates of recycling, and tackle litter and illegal dumping.”

Again, this excited me as it sounded a lot like the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet that I used to direct and that proved to be an effective convening body to make progress. However, aside from appointing Carlton Williams as director, where is this Clean and Green Cabinet? I work in the waste and litter world everyday with professionals who certainly fit the bill for comprising such a Cabinet, and I have not heard of one person who has been approached to serve.

Mayor Cherelle Parker (center) and Carlton Williams (right, in blue jacket, jeans and red cap) on a "Clean and Green" walking tour in February 2024. Photo by Albert Lee.
Mayor Cherelle Parker (center, red trench) and Carlton Williams (right, in blue jacket, jeans and red cap) on a “Clean and Green” walking tour in February 2024. Photo by Albert Lee.

As for the status of the Cabinet? McCarty-Skelton says an announcement will be coming in May. Again, it will be interesting to see the scope of the Cabinet to address litter and waste issues in the City because we need real momentum and real collective action between the private and public sector to make real change.

So again, in my effort to propose ideas and not just critiques, here are three.

    1. Use the template of the once-publicly accessible litter index on the now decommissioned city website CleanPHL to create that public ticker with measurable data and metrics to track progress. Or better yet, steal Boston’s City Score idea. This publicly accessible dashboard gives holistic insight into the day-to-day performance of city services related to a whole host of quality of life issues from pothole repair to 311 calls. Contrast those precise details with going to SmartPickUpPHL to see how trash collection is going in Philadelphia, where it simply says, “we’re on time,” and you’ll see how much work we need to do. This point is especially stark to me as, in my neighborhood, trash day was yesterday and my trash was not picked up at 6pm. My recycling still sits outside this morning as I write this article, getting blown around in the wind.
    2. I said it once and I’ll say it again. We need to put competent people in leadership positions to make change. Given not only Carlton Williams’ recent testimony in City Council, but moreover his performance over the past two decades, I don’t think it’s premature to say that the Mayor may need to rethink this appointment. If cleaning and greening is to be a defining issue for her administration, she needs to hold Williams accountable for progress and if he doesn’t get the job done, she should do an actual search for a Clean and Green Director who can.”
    3. And finally, actually, announce, with an executive order, a Clean and Green Cabinet that comprises the actual “best and the brightest” to truly clean and green this city. To give the administration a head start, I worked up a draft of what an appropriate executive order would look like that could truly make progress toward a clean and green city. Here it is.

Even with all of this critique, I still believe that at her core, Cherelle Parker wants Philadelphia to be cleaner and greener. But just orating it into existence is not a viable strategy. Because you know what’s worse than not acting? Saying you’re going to do a lot and not acting. The Parker administration still has 1,361 days to get it right.

Nic Esposito served as the City of Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Director from 2016-2020. He’s currently the Director of Policy and Engagement for Circular Philadelphia and the Founder of the circular economy start up Circa Systems.


Mayor Cherelle Parker (center) and Carlton Williams (right, in blue jacket, jeans and red cap) on a "Clean and Green" walking tour in February 2024. Photo by Albert Lee.

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