BigBelly Solar trash cans, Part 2

New BigBelly Solar trash can in Chinatown

I have blogged about these BigBelly Solar trash cans before. Now, after having learned a bit more about them, I am going to be picking up where I left off.

These cans have been popping up all over DTLA in the past 6 months. I have seen them in Pershing Square, in the new Grand Park, in Chinatown and in front of the new Target on Figueroa St.

I think we need several here is Skid Row, where our trash problems continue to be problematic.

New can on Figueroa St. @ 7th.

Hal McMath, who has been working on sanitation issues for Skid Row, among other things, is currently organizing an informal coalition of “BigBelly supporters”. Over this last year Mr. McMath has worked with the Bureau of Sanitation to get approx  30 new white mesh trash cans set out and emptied in the Toy district, which has greatly reduced the magnitude of waste and rodents. Solar trash cans are his next project. I am working with him to gain local support. It seems from our research, all the cans around LA have a different story about how they got funded. Some were purchased from the County, some from the City and others were obtained though community organizations coming together and working with the City to raise funds.

Trash @ San Pedro St. & 4th St  (west side) last Sunday afternoon

We in Skid Row have a few different conditions that lead to our incorrigible garbage problems. Depending on where in Skid Row you are, the trash you see in the streets is going to be varied.

In the Toy district, even with our new white mesh cans, tons of garbage gets dumped daily overflowing the cans. The patrons who shop in the area have been dutifully using the cans for their mostly food trash purchased from the street vendors  Also, the homeless who live in the Toy district have acclimated to the new cans and have been using them for their waste. I would even go so far as to say that there is a peaceful and generally respectful symbiotic relationship between the Toy district homeless and the local shop owners. The problem here is that many, many shop owners simply dump the trash from their shipments- stuff like wrapping tapes, paper, boxes and Styrofoam popcorn in the gutters because they have not contracted with a trash service (which is now illegal by the way). This “problem” gets magnified on the weekends when there is no City trash pick up service.

San Pedro & 4th St. (east side) last Sunday

Then, over on the part of Skid Row that IS covered by the CCEA BID, from San Pedro to Alameda St.–we have the issue of no Sunday trash service- we do get trash service for most of Sat. though. This is because the vast majority of businesses that pay into the BID are Industrial and do not work on Sunday- Sunday is like a ghost town in these parts except for the homeless folks. The homeless still create trash just like everyone else does in the form of food waste, bedding and unfortunately toilet paper or any other pieces of material they can use to keep themselves clean.

The issue of no Sunday trash service anywhere is Skid Row is intensified when the dozens of “feeders” come in from all over the world to feed the homeless on the streets here. While the intentions are good, and the food often healthy and lovingly prepared, the trash that results from their passing out paper and plastic plates and utensils is bad.  Stuff gets tossed on the ground and just sits there until Monday morning- attracting rats, pigeons and bugs.

The City will never alleviate the rodent population unless this toxic stew on our streets gets dealt with in a comprehensive way, and by comprehensive, I mean some sort of service on Sundays.

BigBelly Solar trash cans can help. They are $4,500/each. Hal and I are now investigating how many we need and where they might go. Where they go will be important, as a “caretaker” of sorts will be needed to check up on it to make sure the top is kept clear. We are looking to partner with other local organizations, individuals and groups to pull this together.

If you would like to get on our list of BigBelly supporters for Skid Row, please contact Hal McMath @:

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6 Responses to BigBelly Solar trash cans, Part 2

  1. Have you tried contacting WM directly? Corporate/community giving or other grant programs? They may have grant money to fund some of their cans — especially if you are partnering with other NGO’s.

  2. Look at category #3 under the Giving Guidelines. You may fit their target in this category, and also, peripherally, under the education category since you are doing educational outreach regarding garbage.
    **But, request needs to come from a 501(c)(3)

  3. Katherine says:

    Bean Pie—you are a doll! thanks! did not see that, no.

  4. Pingback: BigBelly Solar trash cans, Part 3 (Happy 4th)! | Trees on San Pedro Street Project

  5. CPD says:

    This is a great approach to alleviating the trash problem in Skid Row. Have you mapped or identified potential sites where these solar trash cans should be placed? I’d love to see that.

    • Katherine says:

      Yes I have! Issue is one of maintenance- who will do it? The City will not (I asked). The BIDs would have to do it- but most likely a special grant would be needed to purchase them.

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