Dolores Park Follies: Sorting Out Weekend Trash

Representatives from the city, parks department, and local businesses unveil their new eco pop-up.

The city, Recology and the Park and Recreation Department are working together to mitigate the mountains of trash left in Dolores Park every weekend, after citizens have gotten increasingly vocal about their dismay at the trashed park.

Supervisor Scott Wiener joined representatives from the parks department and from Recology to unveil an “Eco Pop-up,” a row of three dumpsters for landfill waste, compost, and recycling, respectively. Though they’ll be locked down during the week, on weekends, when trash in the park reaches an overwhelming volume, volunteers from various local organizations will staff the dumpsters to help park goers figure out how to sort their waste and encourage those still in the park to drop by when they leave. The effort begins this Saturday, when volunteers will man the bins from noon to 8 p.m.

Sixty-five percent of weekend trash is compostable or recyclable, said acting park services supervisor for the Mission Complex Michelle Pallavicini. The dumpsters and volunteers will be part of a pilot program to see if this is a good way to get parks patrons to pack it out.

“We’ve got seven thousand gallons of debris coming form the park on weekends, and about five thousand visitors. We have to have a way to get it out of the park,” Pallavicini said. “This is hopefully going to be a more efficient method.”

Wiener acknowledged the efforts of Parks department crews, and noted that half of the gardeners’ time is usually spent picking up garbage. Press attention on the issue, he added, has spurred community response — the community group Friends of Dolores Park, for example, has been bringing garbage bags and flyers to the park on weekends to help encourage people to discard their waste properly.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get rid of trash,” Wiener explained, while also making sure that waste that can be recycled or composted doesn’t unnecessarily clog landfills.

Rob Reed, a spokesperson for Recology, echoed that goal of simplicity: “It’s just gonna be easy as pie,” he said.

Local businesses are also joining the effort, mostly with education campaigns. BiRite’s Shakirah Simley said the grocery store has an internal task force dedicated to educating the public about their recyclable and compostable packaging. BiRite has long been active in monthly park cleanups and supporting organizations that help care for the park, but Simley said doing more preventive work like this saves effort.

Andy Olive and Kelly Taylor from the clothing shop San Franpsycho, who know some of their clientele frequent the park, said the shop would promote awareness of the new weekend trash effort, and that they would also try to supply volunteers to help staff the eco pop-up.

A passerby who hadn’t heard about the pop-up was pleasantly surprised to learn about the program. Robert Warren Cromey, a pensioner who lives right next to the park, sees the garbage cans on the fringes of the park piled high as people try, and fail, to discard their rubbish. Cromey mused that volunteers for the cleanup program might even be sourced from among the park-goers who don’t want to be accused of trashing their park.

“They’re good hearted folk,” he said.

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3 Comments

  1. Michael Andrade

    good news!!

  2. This is a great idea. The mountains of litter are awful, but in some ways, this situation represents an opportunity to talk about source reduction, recycling, etc. San Francisco needs an anti-litter campaign badly. Maybe this is the moment and the place to launch it?

  3. Judy B

    I’d really like to think that providing trash containers is all it takes to get people to use them, but having lived here for 28 years and observing people throw trash on the street even though a receptacle is two feet away from them makes that difficult.

    The more new folks who show up to live here, the more we are going to find our parks, streets and other public areas trashed.

    There’s no pride of place…

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