CENTRAL PARK’S NEW TRASH PLAN SPARKS “THE POO-BAG REBELLION”


Friendly dog-walker Mark has noticed more dog poo on the ground since trash cans were removed from Central Park. (He is not affiliated with the poo-bag rebellion.)

The Central Park Conservancy has been moving trash cans in the park, trying to get them out of landscaped areas where people congregate and push the cans to the periphery. The decision is meant to make the park more attractive, make trash-pickup more efficient and keep the “pests” away. In the process they’ve removed some of the 600 or so cans that are placed throughout the park.

The decision is not sitting well with some dog-owners.

In fact, one of our tipsters says her daughter noticed a rebellion of sorts at locations where cans were removed: “the rebellion is picking up steam — several packages of poop left in locations where garbage bins used to be,” she wrote in an email to us.

Dena Libner, public relations manager for the Central Park Conservancy, said that she hadn’t heard about the poo-bag rebellion, but “we would expect parks visitors to walk an extra 50 feet to dispose of their trash rather than asking conservancy workers to do it for them.” In general, dog-walkers should like the changes, she said, because they mean fewer vehicles will be driving on the roads to pick up trash and disrupt their walks. The conservancy has heard from about 3 people who wanted to know where the trash cans had gone since changes started taking place last year, but called the complaints “extremely limited.” The changes have mostly affected the Southern part of the park, particularly the 60’s and 70’s. (The NYC Parks Department didn’t respond to our requests for comment.)

Our tipster, who wishes to be known as “Steamed in Central Park” (I know her and she’s quite reliable), says that she spoke to a parks employee who indicated that the parks department wants people to start carrying their trash out of the park.

“Well, let me tell you, it’s no fun carrying your dog’s poop around for half an hour (and a disincentive to picking it up) — and I have a little dog. It’s a much bigger problem for large dog owners who need two hands to control their dog, plus it’s obviously grosser. ┬áThe dog owners are pretty mad and as my dog has an unfortunate habit of snacking on the ‘remains of the day’, I have already noticed more giant piles of unpicked-up poop.”

Mark, a professional dog-walker I met this week, said he’s seen more poo left on the ground in recent days. “Maybe they don’t want to walk farther to throw it out,” he speculated, as he guided two dogs past a pile of discarded excrement. He said he hadn’t seen people leaving poo-bags where garbage cans used to be; I also didn’t notice any on a recent walk in the park just North of 72nd Street.


There was once a trash can here. No longer.

Libner says that the conservancy has removed very few trash bins (she couldn’t give a specific number). For the most part, they’ve simply moved existing cans to new locations. She called the plan “just a test” and said that it could be modified if it’s deemed to not be working. But if people can simply adjust their routines slightly, they’ll see that the changes are clearly for the best, the conservancy argues. Libner sent us this article from Ohio that says state parks workers found that removing trash cans actually resulted in parks becoming cleaner. When people were forced to use “carry out” trash, they were more likely to clean up their messes, the article argues.

“For people who have become used to seeing a can in a particular spot, they’ll find another spot that’s just as convenient and the benefits will be worth it,” she said.

Our tipster isn’t convinced: “Moving cans to the periphery of the park means ‘take your trash with you.'”

“I can only imagine how awful things will get litterwise when the spring comes and the park is populated by daytrippers vs the fairly responsible winter crowd of dog walkers, bike riders and joggers who are more invested in keeping the park clean and usable.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Noreen says:

      Is this a commentary on selfish persons who think the world should exist for them and their needs?

      Leaving bags anywhere sets up an anti-dog crowd reaction. if you own a dog then you agree to take on cleaning up after it.

    2. Ray says:

      I, for one, have no intention of carrying my litter out of the park, simply because the Conservancy would like to shift the cost of trash removal to NYC’s DOS, thereby saving its own budget. Cans have NOT been moved to the periphery of the park; they have simply been removed.

      I have been a good dog owner, have tried to be a good citizen and to always pick up after my pet, but I won’t carry a bag of dog poo a quarter mile.

      Nor will I carry one out of the North Woods simply because the conservancy has declared it “natural” and taken away every receptacle. We are NOT in the Adirondacks; we are in the middle of a heavily used park in a densely populated city. I NOW do what I would do were I actually in the Adirondacks: I knock the poo off the path, if it’s on it, and into the underbrush, and then I walk away and let it amalgamate with the landscape. You want natural, you get natural.

      We are not fooled by the aesthetics reasoning line, nor the statement that in most cases we can throw the trash in a receptable in a farther 50 feet of walking (not true), and we are certainly not asking park maintenance people to do that for us. We are asking for the cans to be there, IN THE LANDSCAPED AREAS WHERE PEOPLE CONGREGATE so that we can continue to be good citizens. THat is our part of the bargain. And that is why they were there in the first place. Their removal is ONLY about making trash pickup more “efficient,” meaning cheaper.

      (If the Conservancy is concerned with making the park more attractive, it might begin by removing some of the 93 thousand miles of eyesore fencing that has been put up in the last decade or two and turned much of the park into a grass museum.)

      I am one of the people who has left a poo bag where a receptacle used to be (didn’t know I was part of a revolution), most specifically on the bridge leading into the park from the corner of 110th Street. There is a line of benches on both sides of the bridge and now not one single can. Why not just remove the benches so that people are disinclined to sit and snack or read the newspaper and enjoy the park, but instead treat the park as something to walk through to get where they really want to go?

      • vcwom says:

        I love Central Park. I don’t think garbage cans are an eyesore; they are a necessity from any park-user’s perspective (poo or no poo). I also have a feisty dog — a dainty pooer, I will say — but I do not have a problem carrying her poo to a garbage can.

        Of course, it would help if I knew where the garbage cans are. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to leave the poo for the parks people to pick up. After all, no one asks them when they implement these “improvements” and they probably know more about the subject than anyone.

    3. Austen says:

      I may have not said anything, but i did notice right away. I was always impressed with the efforts to keep the park clean of liter with a bin by every bench. Now there is more food left from lunchers and picnikers …it just gets yucky and gross. Please return the bins to the all the bence areas.

    4. Phil says:

      Maybe I’m missing the point entirely.
      To me, this isn’t about garbage can placement, waste management responsibility, or even about poo. Isn’t this about being told when we’re little to put things where they belong when we’re done with them? Isn’t this about being told that when we make a mess, we should help clean it up? Including garbage? Isn’t this about taking the trash you created and disposing of it yourself WHEREVER the trash can is? Whether it’s at the end of the path in the park or outside the park?
      How about stopping the senseless shifting of blame from the mayor to the park to dog owners to picnic-ers to dogs and how about everyone just picking up after themselves. What’s the problem?
      You can’t walk 10 minutes holding a garbage bag til you get to a can? And yes, even if it’s a bag of poo, it’s your dog, and your city. And if you give a crap (pardon the pun) about either of them, you’ll take what you made or what Rex made and get rid of it. Cleaning up after your dog isn’t the time to get political.

    5. Kevin says:

      “An extra 50′ to dispose of their trash?” Ridiculous! Let’s meet in the park for a walk, Dena Libner, and I will show you the difference between “50 feet” and the nearest trash can. UWS dog owners are the target of this idiotic policy and we are fed up with carrying bagged dog poop to the park entrances. When did it become the purpose of the People’s Park to make things easy and convenient for the park staff?

    6. victor says:

      All this dog poop, just smell bad and you gotta be walking like in war-mine zone.
      I already trow away a couple of shoes, because of that.
      Lets ban the dogs from central park.

    7. Jenny says:

      I noticed it RIGHT AWAY as well, and no, I didn’t make a complaint. I thought it was something they did for the winter because there are less people in the park and they wanted to cut back their budget. The cans have not been moved 50 ft, there are just fewer of them. It is a huge pain to be walking around with a bag of poop in your hand, and will absolutely discourage some people from picking up. I, myself, will disgruntedly search for the nearest receptacle, but many people won’t.

    8. A.L. says:

      People will stop picking up after their dogs, but worse is the reality that some people will leave trash in the park if there are no cans available to them. I walk my dog every morning and last week it was a challenge because there were chicken bones and other takeout leftovers strewn along the paths.