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Heroes from Wall Street to your street: How Philadelphians are using Reddit to clean up during the pandemic
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Heroes from Wall Street to your street: How Philadelphians are using Reddit to clean up during the pandemic

Fed up with trash on the street, internet users are coming together to clean up litter around Philadelphia

It’s no secret that Philly has a trash problem. Ranked as 2020’s dirtiest American city by Forbes, inadequate street cleaning and lack of sidewalk trash cans have led to an excess of litter on the city’s streets.

However, some of the city’s residents are volunteering to pick up litter on their own time. One group of Reddit users on the site’s r/philadelphia subreddit have organized a cleanup group to pick up trash across the city. The group’s leader, Reddit user u/ThrowEverythingsAway (who spoke on the condition of anonymity behind their username), noticed the abundance of trash, which he was picking up solo – but he wanted to do something about it.

“I posted on Reddit – r/philadelphia – to see if anyone else was interested and willing to come help me out, and that is how Project Clean Philly came about”, said ThrowEverythingsAway.

According to ThrowEverythingsAway, the group is gaining traction as they gather interest from volunteers.

“At the moment, our mission is to have as many individuals sign up for our future public cleanups. The more that we’ll put time into the community, the less trash we will have in the city.”

So far, he has hosted three cleanups, picking up litter in areas such as Bella Vista and Grad Hospital. However, organizing the events has been more difficult than expected. One volunteer and organizer, Renee, explained some of the biggest difficulties in organizing the events..

“One is the weather… Hopefully as it warms up, we’ll be able to get more people to come out. Two is getting people to show up in general.”

Cleaning up in pandemic times

The organizers are working hard to keep the momentum going. COVID-19 safety is at the top of their priority list — they require attendees to wear masks and remain socially distanced. They also provide extra masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to those who need it.

One volunteer, Sarah P., believes the cleanups are a great, safe way to keep busy during the pandemic.


“Everyone wore masks and gloves the whole time so I think it is a great activity to do during the pandemic, when most people are stuck in and near their homes and residential trash is up overall.”

The users created a new website, Project Clean Philly, which allows interested volunteers to sign up for future events. If weather and volunteer interest permit, the organizers hope to host the next cleanup on Saturday, February 6th or Sunday, February 7th.

If you are interested in volunteering, be sure to check out the Project Clean Philly website for more information. The organizers ask that you wear a mask and remain socially distanced during the event. Finally, since they cannot provide you with a trash picker and trash bags at this time, be sure to bring your own pick up tool. Happy cleaning!

Cover image courtesy of Reddit: u/ThrowEverythingsAway


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Sophie Brous is an editorial intern at Green Philly. Born and raised in NYC, she now attends Haverford College, where she majors in linguistics. When she's not writing, she can be found exploring cities, making arts and crafts, and finding ways to live a greener lifestyle. View all posts by Sophie Brous

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