Trash cans in Butchertown (BS File Photos)
Trash cans in Butchertown (BS File Photos)
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Trash cans in Butchertown (BS File Photos)
Trash cans in Butchertown. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

A tipster wrote in over the weekend describing a common problem in Louisville neighborhoods: the lack of public trash cans. While this plea focuses on Butchertown, it’s relevant across the city, and lucky for a few residents in District 9, new corner garbage containers will arrive soon.

Here’s the problem according to our tipster:

I recently had a business threaten to press charges against me because I was picking up the litter on their block and placing it on their doorstep in a neat pile. There are no public trash cans in this area. This business… [in Butchertown] says that the city fines them if they leave a trash can out. This sounds like a lame excuse to me, they could easily put out a flower pot with a garbage bag in it, but I really don’t think that should be necessary. The city says that personal trash cans are an eyesore but are they really worse than trash on the ground?

The intersection our tipster describes doesn’t have trash cans on the sidewalk, but could certainly use at least one. Meanwhile, Historic Butchertown pointed out that the part of the neighborhood falling in the 9th District could receive several new designer trash cans like the ones above that have been placed throughout the city. Tina Ward-Pugh has secured money for seventeen new laser-cut trash cans and is accepting suggestions on where to place them.

The laser cut design featuring the neighborhood name, a fleur-de-lis, and a simple box shape was originally designed for Downtown and are manufactured locally in Sellersburg. As they began to gain popularity, similar trash cans have been spreading throughout the city.

I think these garbage bins are really sharp, but considering our tipster’s problem, is it too soon so place them throughout urban Louisville? Is it more important to have a few trash cans that look really good or have more corners covered with plain trash cans? I’m not talking about Downtown here, but rather the urban neighborhoods surrounding the core.

The laser engraved cans aren’t as expensive as you might think. At about $600, they are far cheaper than generic designer bins that start at around $750 but are quite a bit more expensive than the ubiquitous wire mesh bins that cost around $125.

Many find those wire mesh trash cans to be extremely ugly, but does function trump form in some cases? I, personally, don’t mind the mesh baskets and have grown used to them living in New York where they can be found on nearly every corner. They can’t, however, compare in aesthetics to the signature “Louisville trash can.”

There’s another school of thought on public trash cans as well: simply don’t provide any. I said above that Manhattan is thoroughly covered in trash cans, but on several walking trips to various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, there isn’t a trash can in view. After checking into the the lack of trash cans, it turns out that these communities are testing out a theory that says providing no trash cans will actually cut litter. I won’t dig into the details here.

While there in fact was very little litter in these neighborhoods, I found it extremely annoying to carry trash with me as opposed to discarding it immediately and I wonder how many people wouldn’t have just jettisoned their trash as litter.

Anyone have any input on public trash cans in Louisville? If you have a suggestion for placement of a new trash can in District 9, you can call 502.574.1109.

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Branden Klayko

11 COMMENTS

  1. I'm not a lover of the $125 model bus shelter bench, er, I mean the $125 trash can, unless its bolted to the sidewalk.

    With a minimum of modification these $600 trash cans could make decent bike parking too. I'm not a fan of tying up to a possibly stinky can, but it beats having the bike stolen!

  2. It seems the city is having trouble maintaining the trash cans it already has. On Brook St, a little south of Oak there is a trash container without the metal bin which hasn't prevented people from throwing their garbage in it. Oddly, it seems as tho it is garbage from the home people are placing in the bin as it is in large white bags. I mentioned this on See.Click.Fix but nothing has been done about it. While walking around Old Louisville I have seen a couple other examples of this. Who is supposed to keep these in working order?

  3. Louisville's waste removal needs revamping. It amazes me that there is not a recycling program downtown first of all. Also some lame brained ord. forces all of the retail shops on Fourth St. to take their trash (mostly delivery boxes and kitchen trash bags) and stack them, almost daily, on the sidewalk for pick up the next day. I can see something along the same lines happening to the business in Butchertown.

    With all that said I love the laser cut bins.

  4. Trash can better than no trash can.

    4 plain-jane trashcans better than 1 pretty one.

    There can be too much of a good thing, but we're nowhere near over-provision in Louisville. Interesting concept of trying no trash cans in Brooklyn (certainly decreases pickup costs!).

    While I'd love to live in an ultra-enlightened society without traffic signs or trash cans (and enjoy all the resulting benefits of harmonious motorist-pedestrian relations and a litter-free town), I do think that a few more trash cans for Louisville is a good thing.

    Once in place, we should encourage people so as to decrease the instances of brown-paper-bag-wrapped double deuces discarded feet away from the (now more available) trash cans.

    P.S. – Gotta love the smashed trash can surround in the picture. Speeding driver? Drunk? Or just dozing? In the latter case, one could blame the can for being black.

  5. I visited London and trashcans cannot be found anywhere on the street. I was annoyed for having to hold onto my trash until I made it back to my hotel. The funny thing is that I didn't notice much litter. When I asked why they don't have trash cans on the street I was told that they removed them back when the IRA was very active because they were commonly used to hide bombs in. After they were removed they noticed less litter on the streets and the decision was made to not place trash cans on the streets.

  6. When I'm dictator of the world, litter on the street will simply be collected and backcharged to the corporation whose logo appears on the litter. Fast Food will finally have to pay a price for its ridiculous over-packaging. Packing will get biodegradable in a hurry, and plastic grocery bags will be gone overnight.

    In the real world, I'm not holding my breath.

  7. Unless a business is retail they rarely bother to maintain or upgrade the public parts of their property. Considering much of the trash is generated by their employees or customers the least they could do is put out a trash can and empty it once a month. Some pragmatic and neighborly businesses do this but unfortunately if the can is on the sidewalk the city will inexplicably fine them. Frankly the city is broke and even if it wasn't could never provide enough trash cans or pick up services for all the streets in this city. European cities have many more public sector employees who sweep the streets. Fewer trash cans = More Litter.

  8. I encourage everyone to spur demand for private sector trash cans by relocating litter from the sidewalk to the private property areas (throw litter over their fences) if a trash can is not present within a reasonable distance.

  9. David Tandy's office got in touch to point out that 100 new trash cans were installed in the fourth district in 2007. Ten of those bins made it to Butchertown and were installed on Main, Washington, and Franklin Streets.

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