Pie Hole Lovers Competition

Even though the following is littered garbage, I enjoy finding the huge variety of plates in their unwanted environments.  Now I see them everywhere.  Passersby and subway riders are stopping to watch me compose the images and some are asking me what I am doing.

Penelope and Martin contributed to this week’s collection so I invite all of you Pie Hole Lovers to send in your photos. ourwastematters@gmail.com











Some rats have been feasting on some of the plates.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl


Rats Aren’t Wasting Brooklyn’s Popularity


Headlines have recently reported the increasing number of rats moving to Brooklyn.  The upscaled popularity of the borough seems to be attracting more than millionaires!

With the hopes of curtailing New York’s rat problem once and for all, Mayor de Blasio is spending $3 million on a citywide rodent-extermination plan.   Our rats have been battle-hardened since the city was born so it will take a citywide, every person doing their part, push to make a dent.

Rodent complaints surged 19 percent citywide from 20,545 complaints to 24,374.  You too, can complain about rats by calling 311.  Or  http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/2374/rodent-complaint   to report rat sightings.

The highest number of rat calls in the city came from Brooklyn with 7,842, Bronx had the second-highest with 5,573, Manhattan had 5,508 complaints, followed by Queens with 3,987 and Staten Island with 1,197.

The most complaints came from residents of 335 E 148th St.  Called, Bronx’s Rat Central, they set the record for the most rodent complaints at a single address by calling the city’s complaint hot line 131 times this year.


Rats are popular these days; gaining celebrity on social media.  Complete with commentary and lots of high pitched screeching these rat videos can actually get you to admire the critters.

There’s the pigeon killing rat caught on video in Brooklyn.  In broad daylight, this rat caught an injured pigeon by the neck and dragged it a few feet.  The pigeon freed itself but the rat gave chase, showed a fearless determination, and finished the job.  John Freund recorded the encounter in Williamsburg and posted the clip to YouTube last year — but the video suddenly went viral this week.

Rats in New York are now being given names for their notoriety, like Pizza Rat.  A bold undetered vermin who carried a slice of pepperoni pizza down a flight of subway stairs. Then there is McDonald’s Rat.  This guy caused all sorts of problems for the food chain in Thailand when its behavior went viral.  We topped that, though, with Subway Rat.  Not the normal commute that day when this rat came on board with all of the other passengers.

The video that really peaked our yuck factor was Selfie Rat.  A rat crawled into the lap of a man sleeping on the subway platform and took a picture of itself with the man’s phone.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CvWXG8gqEU

If you need more! You can take a tour with Motherboard and a Rodentologist to Columbia Park in Chinatown and learn all about rats.

How You Can Help:

  • Keep food waste really well contained.
  • Place household waste at curbside as close as possible to pickup times.
  • Use the new really cool solar powered waste compacting and signaling receptacles, that the Sanitation Department gave us, for all of your street trash.
  • Never litter food on city streets or sidewalks.
  • Report rats or mice where food is served.
  • Report rats or mice in sewers, on streets or sidewalks.
  • Report rats or mice in public schools.
  • Report rats or mice in parks.
  • Report rats or mice in public transportation.
  • Report a condition that could attract rodents such as trash or food left out.
  • Call 311 to report rats or mice in your home or building.
  • Unfortunately rats can carry diseases that kill humans or they might actually be able to help pick up after the messier of us!  Let’s send these guys packin’.

Until next week:19166021-Illustration-of-Cartoon-rat-get-out-Stock-Vector-mouse

Garbage Girl







Bugs Love Our Waste


New Yorkers have always had a symbiotic relationship with rats on the subway tracks, pigeons swooping down from trees and rooftops, and squirrels dodging in and out of traffic.  All in pursuit of the food we litter about our cities.

A study, which was published in the educational journal Global Change Biology found that millions of tiny insects are also picking up after us.

Researchers working in Manhattan’s parks and street medians set out to measure the population of ants, millipedes, mites, spiders, etc.  They placed Ruffles potato chips, Nabisco Nilla Wafers and Oscar Mayer Extra Lean Franks in cages that allowed insects in but kept rats, squirrels and other vertebrates out.  After 24 hours, they returned to see what had been consumed.  By sucking the bugs into aspirators, they found over 16,000 arthropods, including 32 different species of ants.

100% of the food placed out for insects only, on a third of the street medians, was consumed.  Twice that amount was eaten, where all animals had access to the same food.  This suggests that vertebrates and insects can thrive on the same littered junk food diets.

The researchers attracted a lot of attention from passersby.  While some New Yorkers thought studying their urban insects was really interesting, most just wanted to learn how to get rid of them and to tell their infestation stories to eager listeners.

Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, a research associate at North Carolina State University and lead author of the study’s paper said, ” it highlights a very real service that these arthropods provide.  They effectively dispose of our trash for us.”  Urban ecology is not widely researched because its so much more favorable to study in a protected natural area.  “But,” she added, “more than half the world’s population lives in cities.  We have to decide how the organisms living around us provide us with services or disservices.”

The researchers estimate that in a single, block-long median strip, over a period of five to eight months, New York’s premier street cleaners – the arthropods – can consume over one ton of discarded junk food each year.  That amount of food garbage looks like 60,000 hot dogs, 200,000 Nilla Wafers, or 600,000 Ruffles potato chips.

Levi Fishman, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokesperson, said,  “This study confirms that street litter, particularly discarded food, is a major draw for rats and other pests.  The public really needs to dispose of garbage in one of the many trash receptacles throughout the city.”   Pests like pigeons, rats, and flies, harbor and spread human pathogens.  And, cleaning up after sloppy eaters costs NYC over $11billion/year.  For facts about litter click on  https://www.ncdps.gov/Index2.cfm?a=000001,002895,002903

The study’s team thinks that future work should explore the conditions “favoring the competitive advantage of arthropods as food removers in cities.”   Future urban habitat managers could create environments that favor ants over rats, benefitting the public’s health.  We could make our city environments perform more constructive functions.

We all learn, from an early age, that insects are important in the natural environment.  This study shows that they are critical in urban areas, as well.

“You may not like ants,” Dr. Youngsteadt said, “but you probably like rats much less.”

I personally couldn’t agree more!   This spring’s infestation of ants, in our kitchen, would not have been even remotely tolerable if all those scurrying little creatures were rats.