Mural Arts’ Trash Academy Launches New Video Series and Big Belly Trash Can Designs to Educate on Waste and Litter Issues

On November 21, the Philadelphia Streets Department joined Mural Arts to launch two new projects created by Philadelphia youth in collaboration with artists and activists through the Trash Academy.

Trash Academy is a collaborative project between community members in Southeast Philly, artists, environmental activists, and high school students from across Philadelphia. Its projects focus on grassroots community organizing and advocacy, public education, and the creation of collaborative and innovative solutions that address the issue of trash through art and sustainability, encouraging local communities to take action around trash issues and testing and sharing the best grassroots solutions that emerge.

One of the newly-launched Trash Academy projects is a video series created by high school students from across the city called Trash Trouble. Trash Academy students did extensive research into trash, recycling, landfills, and the environment in South Philly. Working with artists, activists, and City employees, the students created videos that blend documentary, poetry, and design to explore how recycling and landfills function and how they affect our experience of the city. The videos, facilitated by artists Eva Wŏ and Hilary Brashear and environmental educator Ciara Williams, contribute to a growing public toolkit for citizen-to-citizen education about local waste issues and possible interventions. View the Trash Trouble videos below.

The second project that was unveiled was the Dirty Danger Project, through which Trash Academy students created new designs to wrap the City’s Big Belly solar trash compactors. The new artwork features mystical animals camouflaged in vibrant, abstracted natural environments, with photo-realistic soda bottles, snack bags, and other trash items lurking in the background to encourage people to think about where trash ends up if it is not properly disposed of. Trash Academy students designed, drew, and painted the trash cans, which are now at 50 locations around the city.

The designs are meant to engage and educate passersby, encouraging them to use the Big Bellys to dispose of their trash so that it does not end up on the street as litter. One of the Trash Academy students, Shanae Evers, told CBS news that, “It’s a way to make the city prettier, and in a way it compels people use the trash can to make the city cleaner and make it more presentable for people who want to come and visit the city.”

Be sure to check out the new Big Belly designs on S. Broad Street, Passyunk Avenue, and 52nd Street.

 Photo by Steve Weinik.

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