Urban Trash & Food Disposal and Typhus Education Mailers

The Urban Trash Crisis

There is a trash and rodent crisis in many downtown cities is occurring for many reasons

  • the large homeless population with nowhere to place their trash
  • the high fees for trash pickup leading to merchants, businesses, and residents illegally dumping
  • overcrowded households creating more trash than the trash pickup fees that they can afford
  • rodent infestation due to dumping of food scraps along with regular garbage
  • rodents carrying disease which can be transmitted to humans via flea bits
  • the city either having inadequate resources for or not being allocated to street trash pickup, in some cases with the trash sitting in the streets and alleyways for months until the voices of the citizens are heard.
  • cases of typhus reported by individuals, including city office workers

What is Typhus?

Flea-borne typhus, is a disease that infected fleas can spread to humans, which should not to be confused with epidemic typhus which is spread from person-to-person contact and is not happening in Los Angeles. Bacteria (Rickettsia typhi and R. felis) found in infected fleas, and their feces, cause murine typhus. Flea-borne typhus can cause high fever, chills, headache, and rash in people and can be treated with antibiotics. Places where there is an accumulation of trash that attract wild animals like feral cats, rats and opossums that may carry an infected flea may increase the risk of exposure. Flea-borne typhus is not transmitted person-by-person.

Per a news release by the County of Los Angeles Health Department in October 2018: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is investigating an outbreak involving several cases of flea-borne typhus in downtown Los Angeles and is working with the city of Los Angeles to implement environmental safety measures to reduce the spread of the disease.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, one particular area with piles 

of trash is “surrounded by food distribution companies that sell to shoppers, vendors, stores and restaurants, including seven within a block, so you have to wonder — given the colonies of football-size rats — about the potential contamination of the food supply chain and the spread of disease.”


“When the typhus outbreak was first reported in October, that was one place we knew rats were, for sure.”


What can we do?

Pay It Forward would like to help improve the conditions in which all citizens in these areas live. This goal will be achieved by:

  • Educating people about food scraps; we are not going to solve the trash problem but perhaps we can stem the rat population by educating people to not include food scraps when trash is dumped. Rats eat food and without it their population will decline.
  • Educating people about food waste and hoarding – if you are not going to eat the leftovers do not take the doggy-bag from the restaurant, buy what you are going to eat, not in bulk, to prevent food waste, just because it’s on special do not buy food that will expire in a short amount of time, etc.
  • Encourage merchants, retailers, and businesses to have trash receptacles at their entrances to provide more opportunities for throwing away trash responsibly.
  • Teach residents how to build a composting device and to compost food scraps.
  • Encourage less use of pesticides as a means to improve the situation and instead the use of more healthy and safe initiatives.

In order to communicate these ideas, the Pay It Forward program is requesting supporters purchase postage-paid envelopes for a direct mail campaign.

If you are interested in contributing  towards printed educational materials please reach out to us directly.

Thank You