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Pine Hills - A Neighborhood Taken Over by Litter

Overflowing trash cans spill litter onto the sidewalks and streets of Hudson Ave. (Photo Credit: Kendyl Hardy)

By Kendyl Hardy | October 11, 2021

Walking along Hudson Avenue, you see a shattered bottle and a ripped trash bag spilling its contents onto a person’s lawn. You turn towards Ontario Street and a battered beer box with used napkins and red solo cups surrounding it on the sidewalk catches your eye.

This situation is a common occurrence. Having to work and walk around it, litter has become a big part of the lives of those who live in Pine Hills.

“This [litter] is a thing that we’ve seen as a quality of life problem for a number of years,” said Carolyn Keefe, the Midtown Pine Hills Committee coordinator.

Pine Hills is a neighborhood that spans from Manning Boulevard to Woodlawn Avenue and Lake Avenue to Washington Avenue. This is an area where many students from both Saint Rose College and University at Albany live in off-campus housing.

“To be honest, I was almost expecting it for a college town, litter is almost expected with college students with all the partying downtown,” said Hannah Yonnetti, a UAlbany junior who lives in the area.

The type of litter that fills the streets and sidewalks ranges from plastic bags to food containers, animal waste, and shattered glass.

“I think I see masks being left on the ground more than any other kind of litter, which I think is interesting,” Yonnetti stated.

On trash day, it is common to see piles of trash in front of houses, some not even in a garbage bag. However, it isn’t just the residents that are causing the litter to become such a big problem, it’s also other factors too.

According to Keefe, there are a number of other components that factor into the litter aside from residents, including bypassers, the wind, open trash cans, and animals. She said that when residents do contribute to the litter problem it is due to the lack of household trash cans and “people who go through the trash looking for deposit bottles.”

Piles of garbage bags on the side of the sidewalk on Partridge St. (Photo Credit Kendyl Hardy)

According to Keefe, the litter problem has not been affecting the number of new residents in the area, nor has it caused people to move out of the neighborhood. It has, however, affected those who live there. The Pine Hills area is home to not only college students, but families and other adults as well.

“I live on Hudson Ave. After every weekend, everywhere is trashed. Lots of people pick it up, though. It just kind of seems like a part of living in Pine Hills,” an unnamed student said.

Keefe has experienced litter on her property as well, “I am noticing more trash on my yard right now, and I’m not sure how much of that is wind.”

“It hasn’t impacted me personally, I don’t think, but it is something I think about every time I go out because it’s such a constant,” said Yonnetti.

Litter can cause major problems and it can affect water supply, attract pests, cause fires, and more. These harmful effects of litter are the reason that the Pine Hills Association has partnered with SUNY Albany to spread awareness on litter and started a cleanup program that allows students to earn credit by picking up litter in the area a couple of hours a week. This group is called the Off-Campus Ambassadors.

The Pine Hills Association is also hard at work with the city to develop new posters in order to educate those who live in the neighborhood about the dangers of littering.

“We’re also trying to work with the city about having more trash receptacles and more trash receptacles with lids on them,” Keefe said about the efforts to begin cleaning up the neighborhood.

Pine Hills is one of many neighborhoods that has lost its beauty to litter. Taking steps to reduce litter is a small but effective way to bring back the beauty it once held.


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