Local woman asks Austinites to join virtual trash clean-ups during pandemic

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Help beautify Austin with others around town — virtually.

In about a week, a virtual trash clean-up in Austin will commence. No, that doesn’t mean your web browser or desktop recycle bin. It’s in real life, outside, around the city. August’s clean-up is the first of three over the next few months.

Kelsey Walsh cleans up trash in Austin (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

Austinite Kelsey Walsh is hosting each. She is a self-proclaimed “low waste advocate.” The clean-ups are one of her avenues to make an environmental impact, something she said has become increasingly difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we were doing the clean-ups before, you know we would have groups of 50 to 100 people coming out to the parks and we all got to meet each other and kind of just talk about if they started their low waste transition, so now that we’re not really able to do that,” she says.

She hopes the virtual clean-ups can serve as a remedy and maybe make us feel closer.

“It gives us the opportunity to still stay connected through social media and through the community,” she said. “I do hope, to the question you asked before, if it continues to grow, this will form a community during a time where we kind of feel a little bit more isolated.”

Trash Tactics

The concept is for individuals to go outside into their neighborhoods (while practicing social distancing guidelines) and gather as much trash as they can. In the past, Walsh has seen between 25-75 participants for in-person trash clean-ups. To keep everyone connected during the event, she encourages those picking up trash to use social media and tag #trashtactics and @eco_letter. You can RSVP on her “Trash Tactics” website.

For Walsh, it’s simply about making change happen.

“Outside of wanting to reduce waste, I love this city,” Walsh said. “I love Austin, and, you know, I think that wanting to do good for your community in a way that works best for you. This what works best for me. This is something that is super fun and I enjoy doing. It makes me feel like I’m giving back to the city.”

The upcoming dates are as follows:

  • Aug. 22 — 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 19 — 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Oct. 24 — 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’re looking for areas to pick-up trash, she recommends cleaning-up at Butler Park, Mabel Davis Park and Barton Springs greenbelt. She plans to hold virtual clean-ups once a month, anticipating growth.

“We’re not trying to be perfect here, we’re just trying to be better.”

You can learn more about her and her cause on her personal website.

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