Kalisa Myers organized the Miracle Mile Plastic Response Team to help rid her community “of plastic and non-biodegradable debris … before it can get into our oceans.” Here, Kalisa shares how she managed to get the city to clean up several “mini-gyres” of illegally-dumped trash that kept popping up near a neighborhood construction site.
First of all, I want you to know that it isn't unreasonable to be infuriated by litter in your neighborhood. It is perfectly OK to stop someone and ask them why they are littering. It is perfectly OK to "make a big deal about it." It is a big deal. It's going straight into the ocean, and that is a very, very, big deal indeed.
On walks throughout my neighborhood, I often “harvest” plastic trash by picking it up and removing it. So after noticing the several mini-gyres of trash that seemed to spawn at the same rate as activity increased at a local construction site, I did what I always do…I picked it up.
After removing several buckets, I went around back and then my heart sank — here was the source of all the trash-gyres — an open dump! Even worse, toxic spray insulation was blowing peacefully to the (still open) storm drain at Wilshire and La Brea.
There was no information or contractor’s contact number or anything around the dump. So I waited until the workers were on break and after talking with them, they gave me the phone number for their boss.
I took the phone number and completed an illegal dumping complaint form.
Then I went to the surrounding businesses (they know me from picking up trash with my Miracle Mile Plastic Response Team bucket) and asked the managers to both complete a form and call the boss of the site. Mood Fabrics complained the same day I did.
Victory! The next day, the dump was gone!
And I’m happy to report an overall cultural shift in the neighborhood, at least around the sites I have "haunted" most. The staff at the CVS on 3rd and La Brea are now required to do daily outside cleanups after I completed a customer complaint form online and did several public cleanups outside the store. The construction site and one area across the street from a Starbucks are cleaner too.
Sometimes the city does respond. Sometimes just one person in it does. What I know now is it's "less OK" to dump in my neighborhood.