Locals call Barraud Park in Norfolk VA the "Black Park". Its the place where residents from the surrounding, predominantly black neighborhoods feel comfortable coming together to eat, exercise and party on occasion. Frontline worked with the Parks Department to demonstrate how a more regular litter pick up schedule, implemented with gig workers from the community, could be used to improve how areas of the park with the heaviest foot traffic were maintained.
Over several months, gig workers were dispatched several times per week to collect loose litter and change out bins that were more than half full. The result was a dramatic transformation in park cleanliness and a reduction in the total trash collected over time.
Keeping the park cleaner at the start of each day resulted in less litter being generated by the end of each day. Up to a 40 percent reduction in total trash collected was October 2021 as compared to September 2021. Much more data (number of visits per park per day) is needed to prove this out, but the initial results are promising and point to data-driven strategies that Parks Leaders can use to reduce the manpower needed to keep open space clean and green.
With less litter in parks, there is also an impact on mowing - less idling per mowing cycle. The EPA has found that gas-powered lawn mowers make up five percent of total air pollution in the United States, amounting to even more in urban areas.
In the future, additional monitoring is required to replicate the impacts across other parks and to validate that with the same density of visitors, keeping the park cleaner at the beginning of the day reduces the amount of trash generated throughout the day.
Frontline gig transforms traditional 8-hour jobs like litter removal, with limited flexibility, into new, flexible shift work opportunities (called gigs) that non-traditional blue-collar workers like university students and office workers can support in their spare time. We worked with the leadership team in the City of Norfolk Parks department to use this model to clean up two of the most visited and perpetually messy parks.