The World’s Largest Street Celebrations- Plus the Messes They Leave Behind

When did you last attend a street festival in your area? Perhaps your city has a vibrant St. Patrick’s Day celebration complete with green floats, green confetti, and green-clad Irish river dancers. Or maybe you have fond memories of your city’s Fourth of July parade, which featured military marches, high school bands, and cannon salutes.

Whatever street festivals you’ve participated in, you were probably too busy having fun to pay attention to the litter left behind. But during a typical celebration, participants throw wrapped candies to the crowd, sell treats like ice cream bars and cotton candy, and sometimes set off bursts of confetti or glitter. On top of that, there’s the dust, spills, and scuffs left behind by a typical celebration.

The day after the festival, most of this mess is gone, largely thanks to the street sweepers and sanitation workers in your area. But what about larger events? Can street sweepers clean up after a celebration as large as Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, or the New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square? The answer is a definite yes-though you’ll be surprised at just how much mess street sweepers can tackle.

Read our blog below to learn about some of the world’s most exciting festivals, and how street sweepers keep the roadways clean before and after.

How Do Street Sweepers Help?

First, let’s discuss the typical role street sweepers play in many street festivals. They usually come out during two key times: right before the festival, and right after.

Before a festival begins, street sweepers go over the area to make the streets safe for participants. They remove any dirt, trash, or other objects that could cause problems once the streets flood with people. They also beautify the area to prepare the city to stand out once visitors arrive.

When they host events involving bikes or runners (such as city- or state-wide marathons), some cities hire special street sweepers to clean paved bike trails or segregated bikeways on the road.

Finally, street sweepers turn up after a festival to clean up anything left behind. In larger festivals, street sweepers often work in conjunction with local workers to clear away all the trash. Your local street sweepers can take care of any mess, no matter how large, in the wake of an exciting event.

Now that you know how crucial street sweepers are to street celebrations, read below to see what kinds of jobs they take on at festivals around the world.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square

Every December 31st, thousands of people crowd into Times Square to watch the ball drop, then celebrate the New Year with confetti, cheers, and kisses. In fact, on December 31st, 2014, nearly 1 million people crowded into Times Square, where a confetti crew showered them with more than 1 ton of confetti.

With such a large celebration, you would think only a sanitation crew in the hundreds could take care of the mess. Actually, it’s less than 200. Only 178 sanitation workers cleaned up the streets on January 1st, 2015, aided by street sweepers, mechanical brooms, leaf blowers, and trucks. By the 2nd, the crew successfully removed over 52 tons of garbage, getting the Square in top shape for the 360,000 visitors it sees each day.

Carnival at Rio de Janeiro

If 52 tons of garbage seems like a lot for a cleaning crew to handle, consider this: street cleaners removed 300 tons of garbage after Rio de Janeiro’s 2013 Carnival festivities. Of course, Carnival is a much longer celebration than the several hours of New Year’s Eve festivities, since partygoers celebrate for five straight days and nights. It’s the world’s largest Carnival celebration-two million people enjoy parades, samba competitions, and parties on the streets each day.

 

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Originally, St. Patrick’s Day was a strictly religious celebration. Irish immigrants to the United States turned it into a colorful cultural celebration, which then caught on back in Ireland (and across the world). The current celebration features a vibrant parade and a long day and night of street festivities celebrated by 2 million people. As celebrations die down, night crews come out to clean in shifts to remove around 20 tons of litter.

Glastonbury Music Festival

Like Carnival, this festival spans five days. It’s also the largest green field festival in the world, which means sanitation crews have to take a slightly different approach to the outdoor clean-up. After all the headlining bands and musical celebrations, 800 sanitation workers start to pick up trash all over the 1,200-acre festival site. Tractors help clear away the garbage, but it still takes crews around 6 weeks to return the area to pre-festival conditions.

Now that you know a little bit more about how much trash street sweepers remove, you can appreciate your local street sweepers a little more. Enjoy your city’s next outdoor celebration to the fullest, and be proud that your clean-up crew has the dedication and resources to get the area back to its usual shine within a few hours.  USA Services offers a full line of festival preparation and cleanup services throughout the State of Florida.  Contact us today for more information.

Innovative Cleaning Strategies from the World’s Cleanest Cities, and What They Mean for You

When you visualize a thriving metropolis-some place big and bustling like New York City-what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I s it the gleaming skyscrapers, the exciting cultural events, and the fun nightlife? Or are those vivid images overshadowed by the grimy sidewalks, dirty roads, and streets littered with chewed gum and cigarette butts? When so many people live in close proximity to each other, keeping the city clean becomes a major challenge.

However, many of the world’s cleanest cities, from Kobe to Calgary, have come up with creative solutions to the difficulties of dirty city living. Below, we’ve listed a few of the cleanest cities in the world, along with the methods they use to stay that way. After reading, yo u might look at your own city’s strategies in a new light, or get inspired to create a few solutions of your own.

Freiburg’s Eco-Friendliness

Located in Southwest Germany, Freiburg has a population of around 230,000. The city’s founding dates back to 1120 C.E. The city has belonged alternately to Germany, Austria, France, Spain, and Sweden during its long and turbulent history. It’s also survived the Thirty Years’ War, WWII bombing, and post-war French occupation.

How does a city with this much history stay clean? Primarily by privileging eco-friendliness. The city’s government works hard to provide clean transportation, use clean energy, manage waste properly, and conserve land. Together, these strategies reduce waste and pollution, keeping the streets cleaner and the air purer.

Singapore’s Local Laws

Singapore isn’t a city; it’s actually a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia. In 2014, over 5 million people lived in Singapore, making it the third-most densely populated country in the world. With so many people living in such close proximity, how does Singapore consistently land on world’s cleanest cities lists?

For one thing, the only gum you’re allowed to chew in Singapore is that prescribed by a doctor. That means no sticky city streets or gooey shoes. Smoking is banned in most public places, including restaurants, movie theaters, and parks. Finally, littering is strictly prohibited, with stiff fines imposed for litterers.

Oslo’s Waste Management

Oslo has one of the highest populations in Europe, but there’s virtually no litter on the streets. Oddly enough, you won’t see any trash cans either. Where does the waste go, then? To an automatic underground waste disposal system run by the city. Many houses are c sh cans either. Where does the waste go, then? To an automatic underground waste disposal system run by the city. Many houses are connected to the system, which carries the trash underground. The waste is then burned by incinerators and used to fuel and heat the cit y, which reduces both pollution and waste in one blow.

Oslo also relies on citizens’ actions to keep the city clean. Through the Rusken campaign, Oslo residents gather to sweep streets, clean up beaches, tidy individual neighborhoods, and more. The Rusken campaign mascot drives around in a bright yellow electric car, encouraging citizens to join together as a community and participate in the event. All in all, around 200,000 people take part in the Rusken campaign each year.

Ifrane’s Low Emissions

Ifrane is located in Morocco and consistently ranks as one of the cleanest cities in the world. Because of its French colonial roots, Ifrane looks more like a Swiss ski village than a Moroccan city. It’s also high in the Middle Atlas Mountains, where it acts as a ski resort in the winter.

Although Ifrane is home to a university and has a population of 40,000 people, it doesn’t have a single carbon-emitting industry. The air and water stay clean, which means Ifrane citizens’ quality of life stays high.

Kobe’s Trash Collection

With 1.5 million people, Kobe is Japan’s sixth-largest city. It’s even older than Freiburg, dating back to 201 C.E. In spite of several devastating earthquakes, including the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, Kobe continues to function as a key port city.

Kobe’s government takes several steps to retain its clean reputation. For instance, the city offers different waste collection days for different types of waste, such as non-combustible waste, recyclables, and typical household waste. If you fail to place your waste in a designated trash bag, the city suspends your trash collection privileges.

Calgary’s Street Sweepers

Calgary is often listed as the world’s cleanest city. What’s the secret to their success? Their central wastewater site purifies up to 100 million liters of water every day. The city also focuses on purifying both their air and drinking water.

One thing that really sets Calgary apart, though, is their annual Spring Clean-up program. Each year, street sweepers scour over 86,000 miles (14,000 total kilometers) of Calgary’s roads. In 2014, street sweepers removed 65,000 cubic yards (50,000 cubic meters) of debris. As you can imagine, at the end of the process, the roads are pristine and beautiful.

Keep Your City Clean

Now that you know a little more about how major cities stay clean, you might have some ideas of your own to implement in your city. For instance, you could take a little more care to sort through your waste and pull out recyclables, like people in Kobe. You could drive less and reduce your overall emissions, like the city of Ifrane. You could even limit the amount of gum you chew like people in Singapore to clean up your sidewalks.

And the next time you see your local street sweepers cleaning up the road, give them a wave and a nod. They’re working along with you to make your city a cleaner, happier place to live.

Cleaning Up the Streets: How Street Sweeping Can Lower Crime Rates

It’s true that there are several benefits to street sweeping. In our previous post on 3 Benefits of Street Sweeping, we discussed safety and environmental improvement. But there is a specific benefit to street sweeping that you may not have thought about before. When it comes to lowering crime rates, cleaning the streets has a positive effect.

Of course it’s good to keep your street clear and safe from dangerous debris. But when you can improve the cleanliness of your city’s streets, you’ll make the environment safer for everyone. Where there’s less crime, there’s less chance of injury, loss, and violence.

Crime in the U.S.

On average, about 3,800 out of every 100,000 U.S. citizens fall victim to crimes each year. This isn’t a number most people are comfortable knowing, because it means your chances are higher than zero. But, certain cities of the world have taken a new approach to crime reduction. Read on to find out what changes they made.

Putting Clean Streets to the Test

It’s easy to make claims that clean streets help lower crime rates, but this is no new theory. In 2010, the Rotterdam police department conducted “The Neighbourhood Takes Charge” experiment. After asking residents for improvements, Rotterdam police spent time each week fulfilling these requests.

Most requests weren’t about specific crimes, but rather about improving the “walkability” of their streets. Common preferred measures included:

  • Controlling speeding vehicles by reducing and enforcing speed limits
  • Cleaning up and preventing pet debris
  • Basic street upkeep, including trash disposal and street sweeping

True to their word, the Rotterdam police force spent time cleaning graffiti and the street itself. They also responded by increasing their public presence and cracking down on speeding violations. Some thought that more serious crimes would skyrocket from neglect, but crime rates dropped.

After the two year trial period, drug crimes and vandalism decreased by 30%, while burglaries dropped by 22%. Even theft and violence saw drops in occurrence after police made specific efforts to clean the streets.

Although this could be a fluke, there’s no ignoring cities who have followed suit. Later in 2012, high-crime areas of New York City and London both lessened crime rates with focused clean-up. Results continue to come from clean streets.

In October of 2014, leaders of Pine Bluff Arkansas set out to make changes in their more problematic neighborhoods. Focusing on areas that made the most police, ambulance, and fire department calls, the police and local mayor spent months cleaning. Leaders also made a point to talk with residents of these areas to find out what things they thought needed improvement. Pine Bluff crime rates dropped by 30% as a result of these efforts.

The Formula for Success

It may seem arbitrary or even obvious, but there are several ways you can clean your streets. One of the best ways to get quality cleaning for a large area or city is by using power street sweepers. This lessens dust and pollution levels, while also clearing dangerous debris from the street.

Everyone can do their individual part for cleanliness, of course. Encourage citizens to pick up litter and garbage when they see it. Keeping emptied and accessible trash cans can also improve the ease of keeping any street clean. It’s difficult to be a good citizen by picking up litter if there’s nowhere to deposit it, after all.

You can also encourage city cleanliness by scheduling regular street sweepings in advance. Develop a set schedule to avoid forgetting. You can even craft this schedule to coincide with other common city events. That way, your streets will be pristine for whatever big event is coming your way.

Anti-crime teams all around the United States recognize the value of a clean street. When a city is clean and well-kept, it promotes an atmosphere of friendliness and honesty. Conversely, an area full of broken windows and accumulated trash gives the feeling that crimes occur there. Such an environment can thereby promote crime itself. Show the best side of your city by engaging in and enforcing street cleanliness.

From what you can see in the previous examples, there are some common elements in all four city’s plan:

  1. Focus on specific problematic or struggling areas
  2. Consult local residents and citizens for improvements
  3. Cleaning the street in more ways than one
  4. Measuring the effects on the crime rate

With these four main elements of city cleanup, you can improve your city, too. After learning the effects clean streets have on crime rates, take advantage of your confidence in trying something similar. Every city and every citizen deserves a safe and clean environment to live and work in. Make a commitment now to “clean up your streets” too, whether that means focusing on certain areas, hiring a regular street sweeper, or talking to local residents about relevant issues. 

The ET-Plus Guardrail Debate: Are They Safe?

An ET-Plus guardrail

Guardrails populate your city’s streets. You see them on virtually every bend in the road and freeway entrance. You assume these guardrails protect the drivers and passengers in your town and minimize car-related injuries and deaths. However, there has been some controversy over whether the end terminals of a particular type of guardrails do this job effectively.

Read on to learn more about the ongoing debate over the end terminals on ET-Plus guardrails and how states across the nation think about the issue.

What Guardrails Are Supposed to Do

Guardrails are designed to protect cars from going off the road. The end terminal, or rail head, sits at the end of a guardrail. You’ll see this part on both ends of the guardrails around your town, although only the rail head facing oncoming traffic tends to cause problems.

End terminals are designed so that if a car crashes into them head on, they will slide down the guardrail upon impact. As they move, the guardrail itself will crumple and shear away from the car in long strips.

This slows down the car’s speed, and keeps it from bouncing off and back onto the road where it could hit other drivers.

With an effective rail head, the car will still be damaged, but the guardrail won’t penetrate the vehicle.

ET-Plus Guardrails

Unlike other rail heads, the end terminals on a popular type of guardrail called ET-Plus might not do their job. Multiple complaints and a lawsuit have been filed in recent years claiming these end terminals “lock up” and cut straight into vehicles that hit them.

How ET-Plus Guardrails Are Different from Others

ET-Plus guardrails are manufactured by Trinity Industries. In 2005, Trinity reportedly made some changes to the guardrail’s design in order to cut down on costs. One of Trinity’s competitors, Josh Harman, filed a lawsuit in 2014 claiming these changes have made it possible for the guardrails to malfunction.

Lawsuit Against Trinity Industries

The lawsuit claims that due to a faulty rail head, rather than shearing away from cars who hit the end terminals, the guardrails remain intact and penetrate the vehicle. There have been multiple reports of incidents in which guardrails rammed through cars and caused major injuries, such as lost limbs and even fatalities.

The rail head’s design change restricted a feeder shoot from five inches wide down to four inches. The lawsuit against Trinity claims these smaller heads cause the railing to get stuck when cars strike them.

What Incidents with ET-Plus Guardrails Have Been Reported

There have been claims of dozens of deaths and over 100 injuries due to crashes in which ET-Plus end terminal supposedly malfunctioned.

For example, a Los Angeles man died in 2014 when he hit a guardrail that didn’t buckle properly, causing his car to flip upside down and smash into a sign pole. Another California man sustained severe injuries in 2014 after he crashed into a guardrail which sliced into his car and amputated his legs.

Trinity’s Response

Trinity denies that the modified design of their guard rails causes them to lock up on impact. In 2014, a Texas court imposed a fine on the company for not notifying the government of the design changes.

Trinity has since stopped selling the modified terminal ends and begun crash testing to analyze how the end terminals react in a collision.

How Various States Are Dealing with ET-Plus Guardrails

The majority of states have imposed a ban on future installation of ET-Plus guardrails, including:

  •  Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Kansas
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • New York

These states, among many others, will not include any ET-Plus end terminals in their current or future road projects. However, although further installations have been prohibited, existing end terminals still stand even in the states that refuse to install more.

ET-Plus Guardrail Test Results

Crash tests for the ET-Plus end terminals are ongoing and the complete results have not reached finalization. However, the Trinity-made guardrails passed their first four mandated crash tests. The rail heads have been tested eight times in total, and the results of the last half of the tests have not yet been released.

Although ABC news reported that some preliminary pictures seem to indicate negative results in the eighth crash test, the article also states Trinity claims you cannot jump to conclusions based on aerial images. While professionals on the plaintiff’s side have claimed the test looks like a clear failure, experts on the defendant’s side say it’s too soon to make premature judgments.

The debate over ET-Plus guardrails is still ongoing. If your state hasn’t banned future installation of these guardrails, and if you still have thousands of them out on your roads, the best thing you can do is make sure your rails are well-maintained and make repairs when necessary.

Keep up with this issue as it develops to help make sure your town’s guardrails remain effective protectors.

What to Do with Your Yard Waste After Spring Cleaning

Yard wasted in Florida needing to be cleaned up for spring.Soon, warmer weather will arrive, which means you need to plan your spring cleaning. You decide which household items you don’t need, and then you take a look at your yard. Thanks to Florida’s warm winters, it still looks fairly green. However, you know that that fad ed greenness will explode into vibrant new growth once spring arrives. You have to trim everything back before that happens.

You work hard until your yard looks pristine. You’ve pulled any weeds, and you’ve removed any dead branches or foliage. You’ve trimmed, mowed, and pulled until you have a sizeable waste pile sitting on your lawn. What do you do now?

Below, we’ve given you a guide on what you can and can’t do with your yard waste.

What You Shouldn’t Do

You may think of yard waste as harmless because it comes from 100% natural and biodegradable materials. However, it can harm the environment in your area if you don’t dispose of it properly. If you have yard waste to dispose of, do not do the following.

1. Put it in the street or gutter.

Even if your neighborhood has reliable street sweeping services, you shouldn’t put your yard waste in the street. Florida may have a reputation for sunny weather, but spring comes with a flurry of rainstorms. Rain could wash that waste into the gutter before the street sweepers ever get to it.

This may not sound like a problem, but if you have a lot of yard waste, it could quickly clog your gutters and storm drains. This will lead to flooding, which can mean destructive flooding in a heavy rainstorm. To avoid this problem, you have to keep your yard waste out of the street. You have many other disposal options, so you never have to put it in the road.

2. Put it in the trash bin.

This method may not seem like a big deal either. After all, your yard waste will quickly biodegrade in the landfill, right?

Even though this waste will soon break down, it still causes problems in a landfill. Yard waste doesn’t actually biodegrade quickly enough to save the space it occupies in the landfill. And the more yard waste you put in the trash, the more landfills the city has to dig. Yo u also waste perfectly good mulch materials at the same time. Even if you don’t need mulch, dispose of your waste properly so someone else can use it.

What You Should Do

You don’t have to rely on your curb or trash bin for yard waste removal. Use the following strategies instead.

1. Put it in your green bin, if you have one.

Many cities provide residents with a green bin, which they can use for yard or garden waste. If you have one, put your yard waste there. Simply take the bin to the curb on collection day. Since this may happen on a different day than regular trash, call your local waste disposal service to find out.

Keep in mind that some forms of yard waste cannot go into your green bin. These items include:

  • Animal waste
  • Any actual trash items
  • Dirt and rocks
  • Fibrous plants, like palm fronds
  • Large branches or limbs

You can put any other plant items, including small branches, into your bin.

2. Call your local waste hauling services for pickup.

If you don’t have a green bin, you can still call your local waste disposal service for pickup. The company will know exactly what to d o with your yard waste. They’ll either process it themselves or send it to other entities for use as mulch and other products.

3. Mulch it into your lawn.

You don’t necessarily have to remove your yard waste. You can use it instead. Spread it over your lawn, then use your lawn mower to break it into tiny pieces. The mower and your footsteps will press the waste into the ground, where it will break down and nourish your grass. By the time summer arrives, you’ll have a beautiful, vibrant lawn.

4. Turn it into mulch for your garden.

You can also gather your yard waste into a compost pile. However, before you leave the pile alone, make sure you remove any weed s or diseased plants. These items could infect the rest of the pile, making the soil useless. However, you can add any of the following to y our compost pile:

      • Acorns  and other seeds, if dead
      • Bark
      • Dead plants (including dead weeds, but remove the seeds)
      • Flowers
      • Grass clippings or thatch
      • Leaves
      • Pine cones and needles
      • Roots
      • Sawdust
      • Twigs and small branches
      • Vines

You can also add certain kinds of waste from your kitchen, including:

      • Fruit and vegetable scraps
      • Eggshells
      • Coffee grounds

Gather all your materials into a pile at least three feet deep, then sprinkle water all over the pile. Don’t soak it, as this could encourage mold. Just go out there every day and sprinkle the pile with water. Check the pile’s temperature to see if it decomposes. It will feel noticeably warmer. Turn the pile once a week to make sure all decomposing items get enough oxygen. You’ll know the pile has turned to mulch once it looks like dirt and no longer feels warm or wet.

 

These strategies help the environment instead of causing disasters. And if a little of your yard waste blows into the street, don’t worr y. Your neighborhood street sweepers will clear them away in no time. In the meantime, use these tips to keep your area clean.