Midblock litter baskets come to busy Upper East Side street in effort to reduce trash in the area

The Upper East Side is renowned for its upscale restaurants, luxury shopping, and picturesque neighborhoods, featuring timeless brownstones and luxe high-rises. However, with the neighborhood’s enchanting allure, comes millions of local and out-of-town visitors, as well as the trash they leave behind. For the past decade, residents of the Upper East Side have taken umbrage with the litter that stained their bustling sidewalks, specifically on East 86th Street, and advocated for mid-block cans and services with no response— until recently.

On Jan 26., Councilmember Julie Menin, in collaboration with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), announced the acquisition of eight midblock litter baskets to be positioned along the commercial corridor of East 86th Street, making this one of the councilmember’s first major initiatives since her election into office earlier this month.

“Sanitation is an issue front and center in our community and I wanted to address it immediately to better the quality of life,” said Council Member Menin, “we deserve clean streets.”

In addition to securing the litter baskets, earlier this month, Menin allocated $120,000 in New York City’s fiscal year budget to increase trash pickups to 4 times a day during the week. While this may appear to be a minor accomplishment, when it comes to the trials and tribulations of the New York City administration system, it is a feat only few can achieve.

“It’s a common sense solution, but you need to know how to cut through bureaucracy,” Menin said. “There is a DSNY threshold for eligibility on midblock litter baskets,” which depends on the location’s feasibility for pickup, resulting in their scarcity throughout the city. Navigating around these restrictions can be daunting, however Menin persisted, ensuring that the residents of the Upper East Side, “finally got this win.”

“This is a watershed moment for East 86th Street, a true milestone of progress,” said Vice President of the East 86th Street Association, Andrew Fine. “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when business, neighborhood associations and DSNY and Government work together. We thank Julie for her leadership and creative vision for making this all possible.”

In conjunction with the baskets, Menin implemented an “Adopt-a-Basket” program which allows any business, organization, or local New Yorker to help maintain one of the 23,000+ litter baskets that populate the City, as well as a “Sponsor a Basket” program which enables sponsors to purchase higher-end litter baskets, adorned with their logo or name, that sanitation teams will regularly empty.

With assistance from the East 86th Street Association, prominent businesses have already joined the initiative, including Orangetheory Fitness, Baked by Melissa, 115 East 86th Co-op, Chick-Fil-A and Foot Locker.

Litter baskets can now be found on mid-blocks between Lexington and Park Avenue, Lexington and 3rd Avenue, and 2nd and 3rd Avenue on the Upper East Side.

“I hope that people will take advantage of the extra basket to throw away their trash in the proper location,” Menin said, adding, “as the Chair of the Small Business Committee, I look forward to working with the community, businesses, and DSNY to keep our community clean.”