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Friday, November 1, 2013

Mystery History -- Solved!

Loren wins with his 8:40 a.m. Tuesday guess "Well, there was a Thrifty on Colorado down close to City Hall, right? So it could be an anti-littering ad campaign that was shot on Colorado."

The April 11, 1955, newspaper photo above from The Independent is captioned "The litterbug in action." Of course the photos were staged.

Here's another photo from the article:

The Independent conducted what's now called an eyeball survey -- a reporter stood at various locations on Colorado Boulevard and observed.

Here's the article:

The litterbug nuisance along Pasadena streets, which has brought complaints
from many citizens here, was traced in part to the city's sparing use
of trash receptacles, in a survey conducted by The Independent.
Citizen indifference was a big factor, however. Some downtown strollers
were observed taking a dozen steps to drop empty cigarette packets in gutters,
when they were within three steps of a trash receptacle.
Citizens who were both lazy and indifferent failed to make the gutter.
They dropped papers underfoot on the sidewalk.
Some conscientious strollers carried crumpled up waste paper
for a block, looking in vain for a trash can. Some looked furtive
and conscience-stricken as they finally flicked their problem into the gutter.
City health officials have warned many times that accumulated
food wrappers, peelings and sandwich bits, lately standard items
along Pasadena's streets, are tempting come-ons for rats,
which grow fat and multiply when food is conveniently left out for them.
Rats aren't the only animals that forage for their food. Dog packs,
stray cats, insects, vermin, all head for the cast-off piles in the gutters.
In one block east of Allen Avenue, there are more mail boxes than trash boxes.
Another constant source of street litter is the outdoor eating places
and drive-in restaurants in some locations where careless eaters toss refuse to the winds.

I imagine the desks of city officials were littered with complaints about litterbugs at the time!

In modern times there is a trash receptacle at just about every block -- one at every bus stop.

There are also more than 40 of these Big Belly solar-powered trash compactors around town:

Leadership Pasadena brought a proposal for the compactors to the Public Works Department in 2007 as a possible environmental project, which led to a pilot program with four placed at key locations, followed by the Pasadena City Council approving the purchase of 36 more in 2009.

They take up as much space as ordinary trash receptacles but have five times the capacity and compact the trash using the power of the sun.

So note to those 1955 litterbugs: You have no excuse 58 years later!


  1. Yay, Loren! I saw your comment and I had no idea of the answer, so I figured I'd live it up to those of you who knew.

    I remember a time, mid-sixties maybe, when litter was a much bigger problem than it is now. There was a nationwide campaign to end it and it seems to have worked, mostly.

  2. I saw a couple of those solar compactors on Colorado last yr. They were removed, never to be seen at those locations again.