boston harbor didn't always need dumpster cleanup
Boston Harbor: beautifully depicted by Fitz Hugh Lane, 1854

Boston Harbor is beautiful, scenic and a crucial access point the overseas shipping industry. In fact, the shape of and access to the Harbor has been gradually modified substantially since the 1800s for the purpose of shipping access. Unfortunately, manmade modifications combined with constant recreational and business use has left the Harbor susceptible to erosion, sewage, and pollution – essentially becoming a giant dumpster on the shores of Boston. Dumpsters, however, have the ability to be emptied and cleaned out by simply hauling over the road to a landfill.  In the case of Boston Harbor, cleanup efforts are underway and are needed in order to preserve the beauty pictured by Fitz Hugh Lane.

It’s no surprise that water was cleaner in the 1800’s, but it is a bit shocking the extent to which the Harbor was polluted in a little over a century. An industrial revolution and increased use led the U.S. District Court to force cleanup efforts in 1986, which formed the Boston Harbor Project cleanup efforts in 1988. This effort not only changed the processes by which companies and ships in the area disposed of waste, but also created a large scale dumpster rental in Boston Harbor. The change to the processes was the most crucial, as it prevents companies that were doing large-scale dumping into the Harbor and causing the most damage. The dumpster rental project is ongoing and a much longer process due to the extent of the debris.

Boston Harbor cleanup efforts use many dumpsters
Information and image sourced from Boston Harbor Association

The aforementioned Boston Harbor Project transitioned to the Boston Harbor Association, which has owned cleanup efforts since 2000, and since then have removed 250 tons of debris from the Harbor. To put that in perspective, 250 tons could fill anywhere from 50-200 construction roll off dumpsters (depending on the type of debris) – which are the long, open top dumpsters often seen on construction sites. The work being done by this association, and its workers, may never restore Boston Harbor to the picturesque portrayal seen above, but it will ensure that it is no longer referred to as a dumpster.