Parts of Westwood Village look more like a junkyard than a place fit for students to live. Walking down Strathmore Drive is like trudging through a landfill of Starbucks napkins, empty Amazon boxes, shredded couch cushions and shattered glass. A blue Keystone Light beer can lies in the bushes and a crushed Solo cup rests on an abandoned desk chair. But who is responsible for cleaning up this illegal trash dump – students or the city?
As an initial solution, the city of Los Angeles encourages everyone to recycle furniture by donating it to charity. If you’re unable to, LA Sanitation offers free pickup and disposal of furniture and big items, which can be requested through the app MyLA311, said Heather Johnson, a public affairs spokesperson. Simple.
Surprisingly, she said Westwood doesn’t have a greater amount of trash than other areas of LA – but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Leaving your furniture on the sidewalks is, in fact, illegal. UCLA’s Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer Bonny Bentzin said the priority should be to first reduce consumption – don’t buy furniture you don’t need or take another plastic cup if you can just rinse out your first one. Second, as the saying goes, reuse. Give your sofa to a friend instead of letting it rot on the sidewalk, because doing so causes others to think it’s OK and follow your lead in dumping more. You can try to repurpose it or, if it comes down to it, recycle your waste.
Bentzin believes everyone wants to do the right thing when it comes to sustainability, but people often don’t know how. But we all must play a role in keeping the streets clean.
“Everyone can be a leader in sustainability – every single person,” Bentzin said.