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The Trash Fairy Project

Updated: Feb 5

a grassroots initiative to inspire a culture of cleaning up in New Hanover County!

Are you growing tired of seeing trash in your neighborhood? Sick of seeing green spaces littered with smelly cigarettes and beer cans when you're trying to relax? Do you feel like you are alone in the fight of keeping our city clean? Welcome budding Fae Folk! You have been granted access to a top-secret society full of like-minded individuals. Using a combination of whimsy, activism, & fun The Trash Fairy project aims to create a culture of getting involved.

Ever heard the term "the trash fairy doesn't live here?" Well, the trash fairy does live here and she comes to my neighborhood at least once a month, how about yours?

Picking up garbage doesn't have to be gross and it doesn't mean you are fulfilling a required community service for getting in trouble. Together we can create a culture that values taking the time to clean up our communal spaces and taking ownership of the initiative to do so. All you need is an able body and the energy to get yourself out there.

A little-known fact is that sometimes when I am in the middle of distress, I will take time to slow down by doing litter sweeps. This all began back in high school when I would visit the local cemeteries to find some peace & quiet to think while beautifying the space. This continued through college, and I found myself meeting up with local beach sweep groups, stream cleans, etc. when I had the time. It always made me feel so good to get outside and watch the process of a space transforming through my actions taking place. I would feel my body relax when I was able to stand back and appreciate the project I completed. Oftentimes, cars will honk their horn, wave, or even stop to thank me while I am working. This can do wonders for a person who feels like they don't matter in realizing they have purpose. Not to mention all the good karma (and often lucrative business opportunities) that would come my way after "by chance."

However, this little tool of mine to help myself and my community became more difficult as I was limited to access for large dumpsters to dispose of it all in. Suddenly, I found myself carrying heavy bags back to my house and throwing them in my personal bin - only to fill up the can days before trash day with a terrible odor lingering long after it was gone. I called up my local trash company and told them what the situation was - they sent a pickup the next morning to my house for free. The operator was so stunned that people even cared to clean up their neighborhood, she was determined to help any way she could. She even suggested I bring it up to management to see if we could make this a real program. So, that next day I set off to the landfill and met with the operations manager who was thrilled about the idea. We are still in the early stages of figuring out logistics and funding, but it is likely to be a county wide program by this year. Even if that situation falls through for whatever reason, I am inspired by local big business stepping up in such a community minded way and doing their best to make it happen.

Overall, the purpose of being a Trash Fairy is to identify spaces in your local neck of the woods that need some TLC and getting down to business with it. Use your voice and don't be afraid to ask local companies, government, or even your neighborhood families to help you in tackling this issue we all face. By setting out into your neighborhood (especially during times when people are passing through) you have an amazing opportunity to set a precedence for those who might not realize their littered trash is being cleaned up by their neighbor. A few days later you may see another person picking up trash there too and before you know it the whole neighborhood is vibrating with change.

If you find yourself unable to aid in the trash clean-up effort due to circumstances, time, or ability, there are so many other ways to spread magic in your community. Start by identifying a need in your neighborhood, it can be as simple as adding some solar lighting to the entrance or near walkways so people can see better at night or donating some books to your neighbor's little library. It can be as bold as heading up your HOA and instilling new sustainability practices. You can even make a point to grow some extra vegetables or herbs to give out. No action is too big or too small to get started on today.

Snap a picture of you and your crew cleaning up (with or without fairy props) with the hashtag #TrashFairy so we can share all the good news! Thank you for being a part of this mission of change in New Hanover County and beyond!

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