ORCA unveils ‘Can It’ anti-litter campaign at businesses featuring neighborhood artists’ designs on lids.
By Melissa Komar
You no longer have an excuse for tossing that wrapper on the ground or stuffing that trash down the sewer if you’re out and about in the Olde Richmond Civic Association’s territory.
ORCA’s newest initiative, “Can It,” is an anti-litter campaign similar to the “Feed the Fish” initiative in Fishtown, with eye-catching lids adorning select trash cans throughout the neighborhood.
ORCA Clean Streets director Rosemary Thomas led the effort, which culminated in the installation of five trash cans this week, Three additional locations will be added in the upcoming weeks, with the hope to have more trash cans in the spring.
“I’ve wanted to add more trash cans as long as I’ve lived in the neighborhood,” Thomas said. “When you walk around, you see lots of litter. And you think, what’s the solution because there’s nowhere to put it.”
Thomas reached out to the Streets Department in March after recommendations from the Fishtown Neighbors Association Beautification Committee.
After months of back-and-forth emails, Thomas met with Streets Department during the summer and came to an agreement that the added trash cans would be part of the city’s “adopt a basket” program.
“An individual or business commits to maintaining the trash can and Streets will pick up the trash on regular trash day and an additional pick-up day,” Thomas explained. “The trash cans are the property of the Streets Department.”
ORCA and the Streets Department came to an agreement for the five initial trash cans and ORCA will fund additional trash cans.
Locations for the trash cans were chosen to “geographically space them, so as not to cluster them in one area” and put them “in the four corners of the neighborhood,” according to Thomas.
The waste receptacles are located St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Trenton Avenue and Cumberland Street; Greensgrow Farms, 2501 Cumberland St.; the future site of the Moyer Street Park, Moyer Street and Aramingo Avenue (managed by Memphis Market); Cook and Shaker, 2301 Albert St.; and Green Rock Tavern, 2546 E. Lehigh Ave.
Amanda Sirois, events and volunteer coordinator at Greensgrow Farms, saw the initiative as an opportunity for the business to increase its community involvement and have a large impact on litter because of the foot traffic Greensgrow experiences.
“A lot of neighborhood residents have told us that they change their walking path in order to take a sneak peak at the farm on a daily basis, and we are always looking for ways to support our community,” Sirois said. “There are not a lot of public trash cans in our area, and we’re hoping to see a decrease in street trash around our area with the addition of this program.”
Friends of Webb Street Playground used money from the GoFundMe for the raccoon mural to purchase two trash cans for the playground that will also be included in the Can It campaign.
Another potential location is Caliber Collision, 2609 E. York St.
The auto body repair and paint shop put a clear auto finish on all the lids to make them “weather-proof, shiny and beautiful” and “they did it for free and were super great and super helpful,” Thomas said.
The gesture saved the artists “from having to clear coat everything” and the “lids are super durable now,” she added.
Four artists’ designs were chosen by ORCA’s board to adorn the trash can lids: “Sunflower” by Erika Matyok Art; “Creature from the Delaware River” by Jeffrey Bouchard; “Trash Mandala” by Joy Waldinger; “Neighborhood Watch” by Jeffrey Bouchard; and “Fish Scale Mandala” by Jill St. Clair Creative.
Olde Richmond resident and freelance art director Jeffrey Bouchard submitted his designs because he “really liked the fish head trash cans” in Fishtown and “it was a fun thing to do and see around the neighborhood.”
His “Creature from the Delaware River” design, located at Cook and Shaker, features a scuba diver “that was changed from a scuba man, which was initially designed for a toy line that was never produced.”
And, “the round shape of the lid lent it to putting eyeballs all around it” for his “Neighborhood Watch” design located at Green Rock Tavern.
While designing and hand painting the lids was fun, Bouchard hopes the initiative tackles a serious issue.
“I hope people stop stuffing trash down the sewer drains,” he said. “I dislike litterers.”
Jamie Mahon, who owns Greens Rock Tavern along with his sister, Nicole Mahon, agreed and was happy to help fill a void in the neighborhood.
“We all know trash can get a little outrageous in the neighborhood,” he said, “And, with Lehigh Avenue being a main arterial, there really isn’t anywhere to dispose of your trash. So, this was a great idea.”
Since the can was placed outside his business last Tuesday, Mahon has had to change the bag each day.
“It’s filled every day,” he said, “so, I’m happy to see people are using it.”
While the initiative seems to be a step in the right direction within the first week, ORCA wanted to start small to ensure its success.
“We wanted to start with a small number [of trash cans] to see if people would be respectful and not dump their household trash, which is illegal, and that there would be no damage to the lids,” Thomas said, “and, if it looks like it’s going well and businesses are getting a positive response, then, hopefully, expand in the spring.”
Although the overall goal is to tackle trash, the “Can It” campaign is multi-faceted.
“The goal is to reduce litter,” Thomas said, “and to improve the appearance of the neighborhood by adding public art that’s interesting. It makes throwing things in the trash cans fun. Part of cleaning up is giving people the tools to do it. It’s taking something practical like a trash can and making it beautiful and fun.”