What's our problem? Why do so many of us think nothing of dropping our empty cups or chip bags behind us on the sidewalk? There is undoubtedly some deep psychological reason people behave like pigs, but frankly, we don't care. It has to stop.
The city's Streets Department has attacked this problem methodically in the past few years. Last year, it collected 17,000 tons of litter and debris.
To put it in perspective, that's how many mangos were exported from Guatemala last year, and that 17,000-ton crop filled 3.3 million boxes.
Imagine: 3.3 million BOXES of litter and debris . . . and that doesn't include household trash - although increasingly, people are dumping their household trash on the street.
Actually, the problem is worse, since 17,000 tons is only what the city managed to pick up. As anyone with eyes can attest, plenty more remains on the street.
Do we have to get into why this is a problem that will drag the city down eternally? For one, no one wants to visit a dirty city. For another, it costs us money. The city spent $1.6 million in 2010 and nearly $2 million in 2008 to pick up litter.
And although the problem - and the solution - rests with citizens, it hasn't helped that the city cut the budget for litter pickup by 40 percent in the last two years.
That seems like a shortsighted move. After all, a dirty street begets more dirt. People are less inclined to trash a clean street. Maybe doubling the litter budget, at least temporarily, might "reset" our vision for a clean city, and send a clearer message that we take this seriously.
The Daily News is taking this seriously and has launched a campaign to "Pick It Up!" Go to www.philly.com/pickitup to read stories, to report problems and troubled locations. And send your ideas for fixing this to email@example.com. We'll publish the best ideas.