by Bradley Maule
I knew when I started my year-long litter project that Devil’s Pool (in Wissahickon Park) is a perennial problem spot for trash. (That’s why there are at least three outdoor trash cans at the site.) I’ve also seen the area under the Henry Avenue Bridge in the aftermath of a party.
But I didn’t expect to find tires far removed from any road, one near Climbers Rock (also known as Livezey Rock) and another in the Cresheim Valley well below McCallum Street. And I marveled at the effort it must have taken to cover so large an area of Houston Meadow in trash after all the snow melted.
This is the sort of thing you learn when you’ve devoted yourself to picking up trash in the Wissahickon for a full year. Well, this and to keep a hard eye out for poison ivy. For heaven’s sake, mind the poison ivy – even in the winter.
Four full months into my 12-month project, One Man’s Trash has been equally predictable and surprising. I fully expected to come across loads and loads of plastic, and I have. I’ve filled two heavy-duty garbage bags with plastic bottles alone, with two more bins of things like McDonald’s straws and potato chip bags. Lots of anticipated cheap beer cans too. The pregnancy test, though – that was a surprise. (It was negative.) And you don’t encounter Lockheed Martin cloth frisbees too frequently, either.
Brand-wise, Budweiser appears to be in the lead, with Wawa, Gatorade and Pabst all vying for the crown, too. In the categories of materials, plastic leads by an insurmountable margin. There’s one piece of plastic for every one piece of every other type of trash combined. But there’s plenty of everything else, too: styrofoam, metal, glass, paper/cardboard, sports equipment, clothes, and the fun wild card every week – miscellaneous.
Bradley Maule is the founder and editor of Philly Skyline and is a co-editor of HiddenCityPhila.org. He lives in Mt. Airy and is training to be an FOW Trail Ambassador. Visit phillyskyline.com/onemanstrash to follow him as he collects litter in the Wissahickon throughout 2014. You can view the miscellaneous items, follow the Wissahickon’s litter in numbers, and see photos and maps from every corner of the park.
* Reprinted, with permission, from the Friends of the Wissahickon newspaper, summer 2014 issue.