plastic Bag campaign

Trash Academy (a project of Mural Arts Philadelphia), in collaboration with Clean Water Action and the city of Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, have initiated a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic bag trash and litter on our streets. All of us have a vested interest in clean streets, protecting the health and well being of our city’s residents, and in protecting our precious environment.


The Trashmobile is a mobile unit designed to educate, inform, and collect information about people’s experience of trash in Philadelphia. It meets communities where they are — at neighborhood events, community meetings, street fairs, etc. Trash Academy youth created games and activities to engage audiences around the issue of trash. The Trashmobile is operated by industrious high school students from all across the city.

Public education poster

In an environmental science course at South Philadelphia High, youth engaged in a month-long exploration of trash rights and responsibilities in Philadelphia. With environmental activist Ron Whyte and artist Margaret Kearney, they investigated city systems as well as citizen rights and responsibilities relating to litter. They developed this tool to engage residents, business owners, and other stakeholders in their community around the issue of trash.

 Dirty Danger

The Dirty Danger project has produced an engaging and educational experience for passersby, via the City’s Big Belly solar trash compactors. The designs, created by Trash Academy youth with artist Eva Wŏ and environmental educator Ciara Williams, feature mystical animals camouflaged in vibrant, abstracted natural environments. Lurking in the background, photorealistic soda bottles, snack bags, and other trash items encourage us to think about where our litter may end up if we don’t properly dispose of it.

Corner activation

Trash Academy collaborated with community members to design and install creative trashcan structures for public use at two street corners in Philadelphia.  As the communal spaces of street blocks, corners create opportunities for spontaneous human encounters. Unfortunately though, because no one has ownership or direct responsibility for corners, they also tend to gather trash.

trash trouble

Students from across Philadelphia did extensive research into trash, recycling, landfills, and the environment in South Philly. Working with artists, activists, and city employees, the students created a new video series, Trash Trouble—blending documentary, poetry, and design to explore how recycling and landfills function, and to understand 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 “teach-ins” and other forms of citizen-to-citizen education.