Philadelphia's "favorite trashman" cleans up community

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Philadelphia's "favorite trashman" cleans up community
Sanitation worker Terrill Haigler believes that the first step to a better Philadelphia is a cleaner Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- Sanitation worker Terrill Haigler spends weekdays combing the streets of Philadelphia and hurling waste into trash trucks. But even on a Saturday, the city's "favorite trashman" had to get back to work.

"You never can be off the job with Philadelphia," said Haigler.

The 31-year-old Northeast Philadelphia native was only a few months into his new job before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"It became way harder," he said. Pick-up delays that irritated locals in 2020 are still recurring due to the pandemic. That's why Haigler created the Instagram account, @_yafavtrashman, to help followers understand the job of sanitation workers and how they can help mitigate the issues they face.

Haigler organized a community clean-up in Northeast Philadelphia today surrounding the Tarken Playground complex. According to an interactive map created by CleanPHL, it rests in an area with a mid-level litter index as of 2018.

"It's all about a mindset. When you keep your neighborhood clean, it then spreads across the city," Haigler said. "We can really shift the narrative and attack bigger issues."

Pennsylvania State Representative Jared Solomon of District 202 was there to help.

"We said, let's hit the hardest-hit area with some beautification efforts," said Representative Solomon. "Once we planted the trees, the next time I was back, trash went down."

Solomon and Haigler were particularly disappointed to learn that Philadelphia was ranked as the dirtiest city in America according to a survey conducted by InsureMyTrip in 2020.

"We're told all the time that Philadelphia can't be a clean city," he said. "Of course we can, and it just requires that kind of grassroots energy."

Solomon joined forces with Haigler to pick up trash today alongside other sanitation workers, nearby residents, and Caroline Turner, who is seeking election as a judge to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

"I'm really wanting to hear from communities themselves about what's needed," said Turner, who volunteers for local food distributions alongside Haigler.

For Haigler, it's not just about being Philadelphia's favorite trashman. It's also about being the best father he can be.

"I want to start teaching my kids just to be a servant to the community," he said. "And that's what I hope to do for Philadelphia.

To learn more and keep up with Haigler's work, follow @_yafavtrashman on Instagram.

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