In November of 2010, San Francisco’s Department of Public Works (DPW) launched its ‘Don’t Leave it on the Sidewalk’ Campaign in hopes to decrease the amount of illegal sidewalk dumping. I know what you’re thinking; It can be magical to find a free stack of records on the street. So is finding a parking spot on your block. The majority of us, myself included, think it’s okay to leave unwanted belongings on the sidewalk. It appears to be the most efficient, economical, and environmental way to get rid of your junk. It’s not.
The scenario usually occurs in this fashion: Buffalo exchange denies purchasing your clothes and shoes. You don’t have a car. So you place a few old lamps and boxes of neatly folded items, like a vintage Kermit the frog t-shirt , on the sidewalk. You think to yourself, “people are going to love this!”. But nightfall comes and your discarded belongings are treated in ways you’d never wish upon on your worst enemy. Morning breaks and the sidewalk is a hot mess. Your neighbors are pissed off and the DPW gets a call to pick it all up. This scenario can end up costing the city nearly 4 millions dollars every year.
This past Friday night, a multi-stained queen size mattress appeared on my sidewalk. Within 12 hours, several pairs of shoes found their way atop the mattress. Next, a pile of stained trousers. I later discovered that someone decided to tag a large portion of my building with an unsteady and untalented hand. Within 48 hours my street corner turned into the shadiest part of town and now it’s my responsibility to clean it up.
I know you mean well, but there are methods of responsibly disposing your own goods. The Arc of San Francisco, Salvation Army and Goodwill have convenient drop off locations and will schedule a free pick-up. Recyclemyjunk.com is another free resource that will haul larger items, such as televisions and broken electronics, free of cost for S.F. residents once per year.