VIDEO: The trash a student sees on his way to school

Here’s a video sent to us by Baltimore City Public School student Hayden Parlato on the eve of “Spring Cleanup Day” sponsored by the city.

And here’s what he wrote in an email to The Brew:

“Hello my name is Hayden Parlato, i am a sophmore at Baltimore City College High School. Each day as i go to and from school the streets i pass are covered with trash. I wanted to spread awareness of the fact that our city is becoming overrun with litter, but i can only do so mush as a high school sophmore, so my dad and i worked together to make a video showing some of what we see on a daily basis. So now i ask that you take fjust a few minutes out of your day to watch this video and respond to me and hopefully we can spread this video and awareness of this problem, so that we can finally see a change.

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  • Unellu

    Terrific young man.

  • Baltimoreplaces

    The other day I decided to go down to Fells Point and clean up three or four blocks, which is easy to do and does not take very long.  A few people commented. “I wish we had you in our neighborhood.”  I replied, “you can do this too, it doesn’t take very long.”  

    Not too long ago I saw a guy throw his fast food waste into the street and he turned to his friend and said, “somebody should do something about this mess.”

    Baltimore does have issues with trash and dumping. But it is up to the people to decide if they want to live in filth or not. In some parts of town you can clean up  block one day and it is trashed again the next. Some people literally use the street as a garabage can. I have observed people open up their front doors or car windows and throw waste from an entire meal into the street.  I do not blame the city government for this it all.  This about personal responsibility.  The learned helplessness response of “somebody should do something about this,” is just lazy. 

    It does not take much time to clean up a block.  If one person per block spend 15 minutes a week picking up trash, this would be a great looking city.  By simply picking up trash we make the city more attractive, safer, help the environment especially the Bay, improve quality of life and property values.  Unfortunately this bad behavior seems to be passed down from generation to generation and now has become a part of urban culture.  It is is an easy thing to change but people have to be willing.

    • Lex Apostata

      I agree that this is not a city government problem. But beyond “spend 15 minutes a week picking up trash,” I would like to offer this radical suggestion:


      It’s just crazy enough to work. The garbage in the streets was not put there by the Garbage Fairy. Having a cleaner city is very, very simple. It just takes two things:

      (1) Put your garbage in garbage cans.
      (2) Repeat.

  • Betsy Nix

    Thanks so much for making this video, Hayden.  I walk through this type of trash every day, too, and it gets depressing. My neighbors and I in Union Square try our best to pick up trash, but it is a constant battle.

    Amazingly, I have heard people in your generation say that they are actually creating jobs when they throw trash on the ground.  Obviously, Baltimore City is not paying many people to pick up trash.

    Your point about the trash cans is also an excellent one.  Every day I walk through the UM Biotech Park where there are about three trash cans per block. Once you leave their campus, however, there are no trash cans on the streets.  Neighbors have brought their own trash cans to install at bus stops and next to park benches in Union Square park, but the rag-tag assortment looks more desperate than intentional.

    (City Forever.)

  • Dojani30

    A month after I moved in my rowhouse in Pigtown, 9 years ago, I was out picking up trash on my block because it drove me crazy how much there was, every day. My neighbor was sitting outside on her stoop eating a tv dinner. She and I are talking the whole time, about the street, neighbors, her son, and I’m still sweeping up trash. She finished her tv dinner and threw the container on the sidewalk and went inside.

  • Fells27

    I don’t know how I’m able to get through my life without throwing trash in the streets. It seems like it’s an impossibility for many people in this city. I regularly sweep and pick up trash on my block in Fell’s Point. I also pull weeds growing on the sidewalk. As someone said earlier, if just one or two people on each block picked up trash regularly this city would look a hell of a lot nicer. Also, am I the only one that is totally amazed that people don’t seem very concerned about the weeds growing in tree wells and sidewalks? It is really unsightly and is a visible symptom of citizen apathy and neglect.

  • Cricket

    You are what you do……  trashy people trash…..

  • Buikema

    I too, clean 2 blocks on Mt. Royal  Ter every week, but it just keeps comming.  Not the fault of the City.  It’s the people.  Take a week and give  out citations for littering. Maybe it will wake some people up.

  • JS

    Beyond cleaning up after other people, I don’t know what else can be done about this problem.  I’ve actually seen mothers teaching their children that their trash is “dirty” and should be thrown on the ground.  I’ve seen others throw it down in full sight of other people.

    A few weeks ago someone actually dumped bulk trash on my property…on trash day.  I had to call 311 to avoid the fine (it wasn’t in a can, and could not fit in my can).  Why would a city with free bulk trash service even have this problem?  It amazes me, and not in a good way.

  • Buzz Beeler

    Fantastic account of the city and their ineptness.  A great job, something to be proud of. 

    The city got what they didn’t vote for, because no one showed up to vote.   

  • what a dump

    yup, charm city. baltimore is a dump.

  • Marmenti

    Depressing footage,  Hayden, but vital that we face what we do.  Thanks for taking the time to make this consciousness-raising video. Let’s all commit to improving our environment by taking an hour a week to walk through our neighborhoods and to pick up every bit of trash we see.

  • wh

    sadly,the people responsible for all the trash JUST DON’T CARE ! concerned citizens can pick up trash every day and it will just keep coming. unless you can change the actions of the people that use the streets as their dumping ground,you are wasting your time !

  • JT

    I agree that the residents of the neighborhoods are to blame for littering but why can’t the City enforce laws that might curb the practice AND raise money? The Code requires residents to keep the areas in front and behind their property clean and clear. People are fined 24-7 for illegal parking – or as we’ve learned, for legal parking at times. So why can’t The Mayor’s office & DPW & DoT give the parking ticket officers authority to ticket property owners? And what about City-owned properties that are a dump? 

  • Susan Malone

    Dear Baltimore Brew and Hayden – 

    Great video – it’s a wake-up call for citizens and officials alike.  Your serious look at the city’s deterioration and need for attention is very real and resonant for viewers. Our youth producers feel very much the same way about litter issues in Baltimore. I hope you will view our Baltimore Speaks Out! students’ short film, Recycleman. In this short, Wide Angle’s Baltimore Speaks Out! students utilize comedic filmmaking tactics with the goal of educating people in Baltimore about what they can do to help our city out of its ailing state.
    You can view the film here on our vimeo page:
    Keep up the great work in bringing these issues to light!
    Sincerely,Susan MaloneExecutive DirectorWide Angle Youth Media

  • parkside

    I agree the citizens are to blame for the trash, but the property he was showing is located at Gay st, Wolfe st and Oliver st.  This property is owned by the city and was used as a city yard.  Look at the roof of the property and conditions of the buildings.  The city uses this site and many more. They occupy the site , don’t maintain the buildings and move on.  They move to a new site and it starts all over again.  The city treats valuable property the way most renters treat rentals. Use it up and move on. When the city doesn’t set a good example how can you expect the neighbrhoods to be any different? Get In On IT.  The Mayor is only worried about handing out money to political contributors and friends. Who wants to move to a city that can’t maintain it’s own house?

  • Tendrils

    Sadly, it is because of conditions like this in Baltimore City, that my son has ruled out his acceptance to Johns Hopkins University. Even though Johns Hopkins is considered one of the best in the country, considering the cost of tuition, we would expect that our son would be able to leave the confines of the university walls and enjoy a clean and SAFE environment. We know we are not alone in this viewpoint and met other families touring the campus with the same concerns.  The people who contribute to the filth in the street will ultimately and forever ruin the city in which they live. I applaud the people who try to make a difference but my advice to them is to get out while you can, you are fighting a losing battle and you deserve much better.

  • Gerald Neily

    The city’s basic strategy is that most of the city might as well not exist. Only certain small areas matter anymore. This is reflected in the political favortism, the special tax breaks, and even transportation – wanting to put the Red Line next to the water where it won’t serve the areas that really need it, and clamoring to knock down the JFX when it is the Highway to Nowhere that has been proven worse than useless. The video of Wolfe and Oliver is right near where the Red Line ought to be. We’ve basically thrown most of the city away. 

  • Theclockstrikes13

    I hear that there is a policy at the city yards that there can only be one dump per day by men who clean up with there pick up trucks. That should be changed. Why not have the City regulate guys with pick up trucks to be assigned yards and houses to clean up, and pay them per house. That would make a cleaner Baltimore with less trash.

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