When I first moved to NY from Seattle I was shocked by all the trash piled up on the streets. In Seattle it generally gets put in dumpsters in alley ways behind buildings and out of sight (not to mention out of the way – although I vaguely recall an effort for removal of dumpsters there).
In NYC there are no back alleys and container storage for waste is generally for those with space in the outer boroughs. So waste is bagged and placed curbside for pick-up by trucks overnight (or in the day time.)
It can be smelly and unsightly, but it is also something that makes New York, well, New York. It also puts trash out in the open where you can’t help but see it – bag after bag after bag of trash really adds up.
The garbage on the sidewalk doesn’t bother me anymore. If anything it makes me realize that we all contribute to this waste stream and we can all do something to reduce it.