Don’t toss that bottle in the street, “Feed the Fish”

Proposed design of the “fish heads” to be placed around Fishtown. The FNA hope to launch this project early next year. SUBMITTED BY FNA

Throwing away your trash will get a little more exciting in Fishtown, thanks to the Fishtown Neighborhood Association, which plans to launch its “Feed the Fish” initiative beginning early next year.

The next time you’re walking down the street and are thinking of throwing your candy wrapper or water bottle on the ground or in the gutter, you may very well be greeted by a trash can disguised as a creatively designed fish head, encouraging you to “feed him” with your garbage.

FNA board member John Consalvo said the concept derives from what is known as “fun theory.”

“It takes healthy practices that benefit our well being and makes them fun. We’re hoping that this would make kids want to run around and look for trash to throw away,” Consalvo said.

Local artist Eric Allen was approached by the FNA to create the sculpted fish head, which will be placed on top of trash receptacles and stationed at busy intersections and other places that are a breeding ground for trash and litter.

“I was really excited when [FNA Beautification Committee Chair] Kristy Landry approached me. It sounded pretty cool so I decided to get involved,” Allen said. The Kensington resident said the project should help to make the neighborhood streets more appealing and fun.

“It’ll be something positive on the street, at least that’s my hope,” said Allen, who is currently in the process of sculpting the fish head in plaster, which will be reproduced in fiberglass to withstand the elements of the outdoors.

“Fishtown people have a lot of pride in their community, I can definitely see them being receptive to the program,” Allen said.

Consalvo said that in addition to the fish heads created by Allen, the city’s Streets Department pledged to donate 20 wire trash baskets to use for the project.

“This project has potential to provide a great example of things neighborhoods can do in partnership with the city,” Consalvo said.

Consalvo said he has been approached by not only businesses, but also local residents who have offered to sponsor a fish basket. There is no cost to sponsor the actual basket, besides what it would cost to maintain the basket. This includes buying trash bags and emptying the baskets as needed.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve heard from close to 20 businesses who expressed interest in sponsoring baskets,” Consalvo said. “We haven’t had any negative feedback, people are coming up to us saying it’s a great idea.”

In addition to local residents and businesses sponsoring the baskets, Landry said she would also like to reach out to schools in the area to get involved with the project.

Although littering is just as much of an issue in Fishtown as it is in big cities like Philadelphia in general, Consalvo said it is something that has been improving over the past decade.

Despite the progress the project has already made, there is still much preparation to be done before it is officially launched in 2014.

“There are a lot of planning things you don’t necessarily think about, such as procuring the actual material, drawing up agreements with the Streets Department, and other logistical steps,” Consalvo said.

Anyone interested in sponsoring one of the baskets should email beautification@fishtown.org for more information. Consalvo said applications to decorate and paint the fish heads should be out in early 2014.

When the project is launched, Allen said he hopes his work will have a constructive impact on the community.

“I’m thinking maybe people will realize their responsibility to throw their trash away,” he said. “Or it will just put smiles on their faces when they see a fish head on top of a trash can.”