Beacon Benchmark: #TrashTagChallenge just means busing somebody else’s table

The Beacon is traveling around Bloomington by public bus this summer, as a way of trying out Bloomington Transit’s new smartphone passes.

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A grabber-claw device similar to the one used by The Beacon to clean up the alley connecting 6th Street with Kirkwood just west of Washington Street.

I made one trip on Route 3 to complete an errand to Bloomington Hardware. There I purchased a gadget for grabbing things at a distance. The business end is a kind of claw that closes when you squeeze the lever in the handle.

The three-foot long device was planned for picking up trash in the downtown alley that runs north-south between 6th Street and Kirkwood Avenue.

It’s right around the corner from The Beacon’s headquarters, so it’s easy to notice that the alley is often trashed. It doesn’t seem to be anyone’s job to pick up that trash. I figured it might as well be The Beacon’s job.

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Flyer posted in the BT bus stop shelter on 3rd Street and Patterson Drive. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

A week went by after the grabber-claw device was purchased. In that time, I had still made no follow-up effort to clear the trash in the alley.

A couple days later—on a Route 3 trip to buy treats from Cresent Donuts—I waited for the return trip in the shade of a bus stop shelter at 3rd Street and Patterson Drive.

In the bus shelter, a Bloomington Transit flyer was posted encouraging people to participate in the global #TrashTagChallenge. As part of that challenge, people are encouraged to take before-after photos of the areas they clean up.

With the extra prompt from the bus stop flyer, I deployed the grabber-claw on the 6th Street alley trash.

Here’s the before-after evidence.


A close look at the bus stop flyer reveals the flyer to be sponsored by radio stations WCLS, Spirit 95 and K101.1

This Friday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., K101.1 is hosting a #TrashTagChallenge event starting from the McDonald’s on 3rd Street. (2910 W 3rd St, Bloomington, IN) Buckets and grabber-claw devices will be provided.

According to the radio station’s Facebook page, this is the sixth week they’ve been organizing trash pickup around Bloomington. So far they’ve collected 300 gallons worth.

I’m glad the radio folks are organizing a trash pickup.

And I think it makes perfect sense that the local public transit agency is helping to promote the concept. Because “busing” doesn’t just mean transporting people in large motor vehicles. It can also mean clearing dirty stuff away. As signs in some local eateries say: “Please bus your own table.”

If everyone bussed their own stuff, efforts like #TrashTagChallenge wouldn’t be needed. But it’s not so hard to chip in and help bus somebody else’s table.