Keeping it Clean | Picking Litter off the Streets for 10 Years

Diane and Bruce Crum have spent over a decade removing garbage around South Pasadena, one wrapper at a time

Diane and Bruce Crum
PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | News | Since retiring 10 years ago in 2010, the husband-wife team of Bruce and Diane Crum having been cleaning up trash and other detritus around South Pasadena

Litter off the streets.

What does it take to make sure the streets of South Pasadena are clean? It seems it takes dedication and a passion for keeping one’s home in tip-top shape. Diane and Bruce Crum are cleaning by example.

Litter off the Streets
PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | News | The bed of the Crum’s pickup truck crammed with rakes, leaf blowers, and other cleaning supplies

Though it may be a passing thought amongst the many who roll on through town — whether it be commuters from adjacent cities or locals — debris, garbage, and other items improperly disposed of happen to find their way into the gutters.

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The husband-wife team have taken it upon themselves to make sure that at least some of the harmful detritus abandoned in our city streets finds its way to the dump. After retiring in 2010, Bruce and his partner-in-clean — who have both been South Pasadena residents for several decades — have been picking up trash, moving one step further towards a more ecologically-sound future.

“I grew up in this city and I love this city. As a kid I don’t remember it being this dirty. It’s escalating, I’m picking up more and more as the years go by,” says Diane, with Bruce adding, “I’ve been here 20 years and I don’t remember it being this dirty either. I agree that in the last four or five years it seems to have gotten a lot worse.”

For the two, however, the civic duty is almost second nature based on their over 70-year shared experience working for Metro; Bruce a former Maintenance Manager and Diane an Executive Secretary.

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | News | A garbage bag full of a variety of waste found on the streets

Thriving on good intentions put into action, the two have a “working relationship” with the City’s Parks and Recreation department. After filling up an average of at least 10-12 large garbage bags worth of waste weekly — based on the couple’s estimate — they return to the same maintenance yard located on Marmion Way, which provides the Crums with waste management supplies like garbage bags, for proper disposal.

Some of the worst spots? According to the duo many of the areas located either by freeway overpasses, parks, or borders with neighboring cities. Specific locations like the 100 block of Pasadena Avenue and the park on Marmion Way are spots hit with heavy litter “because a lot of people stop and eat their Lunch and dinner there and throw the papers out (along with) their beer bottles,” says Diane, disheartened that many treat the streets of their hometown so callously.

An unlikely, but nevertheless heavily abused receptacle, are the donation boxes reserved for clothing, toys, and other items meant to be received by the less-fortunate. “People don’t bring their clothes,” says Diane, adding that some people view the stations as “the perfect place to just dump anything. They’ve got piles of stuff that are useless.” An unfortunate misuse of a system meant to benefit those in need.

The good news is, anyone can join in the daily efforts. “It’s easy to do it by yourself,” beckons Diane, “I noticed the Lions Club got all those kids together. That was during the Martin Luther King holiday. They went down to where the York bridge ends and went into the Nature Park. They brought bag after bag after bag.”

As far as the Crums are concerned the battle never ends, but the hope remains that others will find the time to help keep the City of Trees a green, vibrant home.

Diane and Bruce Crum
PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | News | Bruce and Diane Crum are both former Metro employees with 70 years of experience shared between the two who call South Pasadena home