Litter is a common problem in urban areas, particularly in and around vacant lots. Vacant lots give a message of neglect to passersby, ultimately making people feel less guilt for littering. Apart from simply looking bad, litter can cause some serious issues. When it rains, litter often ends up in storm drains, clogging up the sewer system. This exacerbates the combined sewer overflow issue in Pittsburgh, and eventually pollutes rivers. Litter also can attract rodents to an area, which can spread diseases and cause other nuisances. When cans, bottles, paper, and many other types of materials are littered, they do not enter into the recycling system. This means that new bottles, cans, paper, etc. must be produced from virgin materials, rather than recycled materials.
Apart from refraining from littering personally and picking up litter in your own neighborhood, you can organize a neighborhood-wide cleanup event. The City of Pittsburgh, for example, has a program called “Beautify Our ‘Burgh” which groups can participate in to get resources and recognition for litter-cleanup. If you live in Pittsburgh, check out their webpage for more information and contact info.