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What Have Those TrashWalkers Been Up To?

Debin Bruce | Published on 9/1/2022

“There’s a lot to enjoy about trash walking—exploring unfamiliar neighborhoods, getting exercise and fresh air, and making a small but satisfying difference,” volunteer Annie Link says of the NN Interest Group that picks up trash in public parks and community areas.


The TrashWalkers meet on the second Tuesday of the month. If there are commitments from more people than there are tools for them to use, we hold morning and afternoon sessions. Tools include lightweight buckets, grabbers, gloves, small plastic bags, and the all-important nametags.


We meet in a designated place and—after greeting one another—head out to fill our buckets and circle back to unload them into a large blue DPW bag. We’ve worked at:

  • Historic Northampton, fanning out into Hawley Street and off Market Street
  • Florence Community Center and around the cemetery
  • Forbes Library and along West and Elm Streets
  • Pulaski Park and into the Round House parking lot
  • The Center for the Arts, including the back parking lot and neighboring streets
  • Veterans Field, around the skate park and along the bike path

Each location yields a bag or two of trash. (Before delivery to the Locust Street transfer station, we remove things that can be recycled.)


TrashWalker Robyn Bantel says she usually works the rail-trail, “and almost everyone—pedestrians, cyclists, the homeless man sitting under the bridge—thanks me or tells me how much they appreciate what I’m doing for the city. This is so gratifying and makes me work even harder.”


The organizers have noticed a happy trend of people showing up with a friend or partner or taking off in pairs. Alone or with others, TrashWalkers gives purpose to a walk.

Photo by Rob Weir