What Is It?
Feed the Fish is a creative, collaborative, community-driven approach to combating litter through art and fun, implemented by the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA). Through the program, FNA works with local artists who design artistic fish head trash bin toppers and with community partners who commit to maintaining the bins. “Feed the Fish” gives trash bins character, emphasizes community pride in an artistic way, and lets people know the bins are there to be used.
Why Was the Program Implemented?
The program was implemented to address the following challenges:
- Litter and trash complaints from residents and businesses
- Too few trash cans in the neighborhood, and even when there are trashcans, they tend to fill up quickly
- Community-organized cleanups do not happen frequently enough and are not a sustainable solution
How Does It Work?
Local artists design the trash can toppers, fiberglass fish heads with gaping mouths ready to be “fed” trash. The toppers are affixed to wire trash baskets, provided by the Philadelphia Streets Department. Each bin is sponsored by a business, resident, or school, who is then responsible for emptying the trash and providing new bags. Signs on the front of each trash bin give credit to each artist and sponsor and let people know that the bins are part of FNA beautification efforts.
In 2014, FNA piloted the program with 20 cans and then expanded in 2017 with an additional 12 cans.
The budget for the initial 2014 project for 20 cans was about $15,000 and mostly came from a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District. In 2017, the new bins were sponsored by Fishtown Co. and Johnny Brenda’s.
Lessons Learned and Tips
1) Expectation setting for adopting partners is vital for high retention. Ideal partners are restaurants and bars, who typically have the staff and resources to empty cans as soon as they fill up. FNA’s new application process walks through expectations and self-selects for motivated partners.
2) Prevent household dumping with signage and better design. FNA added signage to the bins to deter household dumping. Future designs should make the bin mouth area smaller to minimize household dumping into the bin.
3) Ensure your organization has the capacity and resources to implement and sustain the program. Expect many, many hours for coordination at each stage of the process.
Who to Get in Touch with To Develop a Similar Program
If you are interested in developing a similar program for your own neighborhood, please contact:
Monica King, Fishtown Neighbors Association