What is Litter?
Litter is one of the most obvious and aggravating of the Town’s waste management problems. It’s not just annoying and unsightly, it also scars our neighborhoods and deters investments in our communities.
No matter where litter starts, it moves. -- From streets and highways to parks and waterways. Wind and weather move litter around a community, into the gutters, planted gardens, fields, and parking areas. In one study, researchers found that 18% of all littered items end up in our streams and waterways as pollution.
The best solutions to litter problems are to stop it before it starts. In most cases, solutions come from thoughtful prevention. Litter is the result of some individuals paying too little attention to their actions and carelessly handling waste and discarded items so that it ends up on our streets, parks and waterways.
It only takes small actions one person at a time to make a big difference. Each person must accept responsibility for their actions and influence the actions of others around them in their business, home, school, and community. By modeling proper trash and waste disposal, you will cause others to consider their actions, too.
What the Town Does...
The Town conducts anti litter and interactive waste reduction talks in schools and community groups. To book a speaker on litter, recycling, waste reduction or other waste management topics call (631)451-6222.
Picking it up
Litter on a public street: Brookhaven’s Department of Waste Management roadside clean-up crews work full time, five days a week, handling roadside litter along the 2,000 miles of Town roads. Their schedule is divided between responding to resident alert calls and repeated returns to chronically littered areas. Please note that the Town does not consider litter in front of homes “roadside litter”. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to keep their curb clean. If you see litter on a Town road, call 451-TOWN(8696) to report it.
(Note: State Roads are owned and maintained exclusively by the New York State Department of Transportation, 952-6702; County roads are owned and maintained by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, 852-4010.)
Litter on Private Property: Private property owners are responsible for keeping their property litter-free to the curb. Litter violations on private property (including excess garbage placed at the curb by residents) will be investigated by the Town and be addressed by following the proscribed by Town Code and policy:
What You Can Do...
- Complaints received by the Department of Waste Management are investigated by one of our inspectors.
- Once a violation is verified, a Notice of Violation or Notice Before Summons is sent to the property owner, who is given a specific number of days to clean up the location or reply to the Department.
- If the problem is not rectified in the time allotted, the Town issues an Appearance Ticket to the property owner. The Town can also post a Notice of Order and send in Town crews to clean the property. The cost of cleaning up the violation is back-charged to the property owner's tax bill.
Keep Brookhaven Beautiful and the Great Brookhaven Plant-In
The Town works with interested members of the community through the Anti-Litter Task Force and the Town of Brookhaven Keep America Beautiful program. These groups provide access to local and national support and programs to substantially increase our capacity to address this important issue.
The Town and Keep Brookhaven Beautiful co-host and annual Clean up Brookhaven Day where thousands of residents all over the town volunteer time, rescores, and manpower to pick up litter. Last year, they picked up over 2 million tons of litter! In the spring, the Town and Keep Brookhaven Beautiful co-host an equally successful Great Brookhaven Plant-In. This annual beautification initiative provides thousands of donated plants for small public spaces all over the Town. For more information about Keep Brookhaven Beautiful or the Great Brookhaven Clean-up or Plant-In events click here.
Street Sign Campaign
Host a “Please Do Not Litter" sign. These signs are decorated and signed by youth groups such as scout troops and school classes, and then placed in the community as reminders not to litter. Each sign Signs and markers are available from the Town’s Waste Management Department.
----Anti-littering laws need to be strengthened. In order to effectively prosecute under the law as now written, it is usually best for an inspector or other law enforcement officer to catch litterers in the act. Unfortunately, that is difficult to do. This difficulty in enforcement is compounded in the courts where judges historically do not assess large fines for littering. These are issues that must be addressed at the legislative level.
----On the public education front, both our in-school education program and our community outreach programs continually address littering issues. Residents can affect change in their community through grassroots efforts as well.
----Student energy can be very effective. If the local school district does not sponsor environmental clubs, suggest they start one. School children care a great deal about their environment and usually respond positively to opportunities to educate their peers and elders.