Collaborator Spotlight

Collaborator Spotlight: Terrill Haigler, Ya Fav Trashman

Looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Earth Day 2022? Join us for the first Earth Day Trash Walk and Community Clean Up on Saturday, April 23rd in Kensington. Organized by Philly’s favorite environmental activist and former sanitation worker Terrill Haigler (a.k.a. Ya Fav Trashman,) this is no ordinary neighborhood cleanup. This 5k event invites residents from every part of the City to show their support for this grassroots effort to keep Philadelphia clean, and kids are also welcome to join.

How big is this event? Ya Fav Trashman will appear on the Today Show, Friday, April 22nd to tell the nation about it. “I want to ignite a movement,” said Haigler who hopes to attract 500 to 2,000 participants. “The goal of the walk is to not only get litter off the ground but also raise awareness around environmental justice in Philadelphia, especially in brown and black communities,” he said.

“I chose Kensington because trash collection there is a broken cycle,” said Haigler, “The City cleans it up and the next day, there is trash again because people are living on the street. I didn’t know how political trash collection was in Philly until after I brought attention to the problem and legislation was proposed to deal with it.” 

Who is Ya Fav Trashman

During the peak of the pandemic, Haigler was three months into a job as a trash collector for the Philadelphia Dept. of Sanitation. “I used social media to bring attention to the plight of trash collectors. As essential workers, they had no PPE and at least 200 of them had contracted Covid,” he said. “I turned to social media, documenting the problem on Instagram. It went viral.”

But Haigler didn’t just talk the talk. He launched a custom Ink t-shirt fundraiser to purchase PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. That led to appearances on the Kelly Clarkson Show, Good Morning America, and ABC News, along with headlines in the Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine. 

Meanwhile, his job as a trash collector caused problems in his home. “My three children were embarrassed that I collected trash. They didn’t realize that it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for the environment. That motivated me to write a children’s book, I’m Cool Too, about kids learning to clean up their neighborhood,” Haigler said.

Today, Haigler is no longer working for the Sanitation Dept. He’s the CEO of Ya Fav Trashman, LLC., the founder of a non-profit and hauling service called Trash 2 Treasure, an influencer with 30 thousand Instagram followers, a brand ambassador, public speaker, sanitation guru, entrepreneur, environmental activist, and clean-up evangelist. But, wait, there’s more! Haigler will soon be introducing an environmental curriculum for preschool kids.

Join the Walk

Register online for $25 and join us at the intersection of Kensington and Lehigh Avenue starting at 8 a.m. to receive your Ya Fav Trashman T-shirt, swag, and more. Several sponsors will have tables set up at the beginning of the walk including Solo Real Estate, Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS), University of Pennsylvania, Suburu, and the Friends School. The Solo team will be on-site handing out recycling bins, tote bags, and free zinnia seed packets, while supplies last.

At 8:30 a DJ and personal trainer will get you warmed up! From 9 am to 12 noon, participants will pick up trash from over three miles of City streets. Everyone will be given tools, a t-shirt, gloves, and information. There will be a trash truck on site so as not to leave a mountain of trash bags in the street. There will also be a videographer capturing the event so there’s a chance you too may go viral.

For every bag of trash collected up to 1,000 bags, PHS has pledged to plant one tree in black and brown neighborhoods in the next five years. You won’t just be making Philly cleaner. You’ll be making it greener! We hope you’ll join us on Saturday to contribute and support the work Terrill is doing to improve our city.

Earth Day provides an opportunity to renew our commitment to our community and the earth by making more sustainable choices but we don’t need to limit our commitment to just one day. Every day there is a new opportunity to change the way you approach your day-to-day by making a simple swap, finding a new home for your goods, volunteering your time, or maybe organizing a clean-up of your own.

Looking for ways you can be more sustainable? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia and our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment, or learn about how you too can compost by reading our article on Composting 101.

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