The Global Fight Against Litter: San Jose, California

San Jose in California is a beautiful city with a growing litter problem, but the authorities think they’ve found the solution.

Starting this month, the authorities will pay over 25 homeless citizens $15 per hour to pick up litter at around 40 litter ‘hotspots’ that have been identified. The scheme aims to clean up the city and help homeless people turn their lives around at the same time.

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The Mayor announced the scheme during a press conference at the offices of Downtown Streets  Team, an organisation which works to end homelessness. The team will hire and manage the workers along with the charitable organisation Goodwill. The end goal, organisers say, is to help homeless people get into full-time employment. One lady who is taking part said that she has been volunteering with Downtown Streets Team for years, and has received gift cards so she can buy necessities, but she said she appreciates a paycheck because it’s so hard to get back on your feet.

The Mayor said he hopes that the scheme will change people’s views that homeless people are the cause of a lot of litter on roadsides and embankments. The reality, he says, is that litter comes from many sources.

The scheme will be funded by a $200,000 litter abatement grant which was signed off by the council earlier this year. It’s going to be a pilot initially but city officials and Downtown Streets Team hope that it will continue.

The Vice President of mission services at Goodwill in Silicon Valley said that the scheme fits perfectly with their mission of giving people a hand up instead of a hand out.

Helping the homeless and tacking litter in the UK

There are plenty of people cottoning on to the idea that you can help the environment and help other people by tackling litter. Last month, a homeless charity in Leicestershire received a donation thanks to smokers in Hinckley town centre. The borough council introduced special bins that let smokers choose a charity to get a £100 donation by binning their cigarettes in a particular hole in a ballot bin. This initiative was launched to encourage people to dispose of their cigarette butts responsibly. The four ballot bins have a window which allows people to see which charity has the most votes, and each bin is strategically located in an area where cigarette litter is a problem.

The first cheque has been given to Hinckley Homeless Group, who are delighted to be chosen as the first winners. A spokesperson from the charity said that the new smoking bins promote good citizenship and responsibility, and it gives people the chance to do something good for the environment and for other people.

Cigarette butt litter has become an increasing problem in town in the last few years and it’s hoped that the bins will help encourage people to bin their cigarettes rather than dropping them on the ground. In other parts of the country, ballot bins have reduced cigarette litter by around 46%.

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