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Boston Trash Loads Could Be Up 500% During 'Allston Christmas'03:59
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It's beginning to look a lot like "Allston Christmas." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
It's beginning to look a lot like "Allston Christmas." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The period around Sept. 1 is notorious for difficult traffic, moving trucks getting stuck on Storrow Drive, and the phenomenon known as "Allston Christmas."

That's the unofficial name for the mountains of trash and old furniture left behind by departing tenants — sifted and pored through by incoming residents looking for a new sofa, desk or dresser.

"I would say, 'shop at your own risk,' " said Brian Coughlin, Boston's superintendent of waste reduction. "I don't really recommend anybody grabbing a bed or a couch, or even a desk. ... You never know if there's bedbugs on anything that's been out there."

Coughlin said the period around moving day is a busy one for city workers, with trash loads anywhere from 150% to 500% above normal, depending on the neighborhood.

"It used to be centrally a problem, I'd say, in the Allston-Brighton and Mission Hill neighborhoods," Coughlin said. "We're seeing more and more in the North End and even going through into East Boston as well, and the Waterfront."

Coughlin also warned residents against leaving loads of trash on the curb this weekend on days other than their assigned trash day — calling the yearly event "illegal dumping," that often leads to a ticket for the property owner.

The city's taken steps to educate landlords and tenants about leaving behind piles of trash on non-pickup days, but Coughlin said public awareness is a yearly effort.

"You get somebody in the habit of it the first year, and then three or four years later, they graduate, and then it's a new crew," he said. "It's gotten a lot cleaner. The process has been a lot smoother on our end. But it's still ... going to be quite a mess for a couple days."

This segment aired on August 30, 2019.

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Jack Lepiarz is a reporter and anchor at WBUR.

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