KAB Volunteer Spotlight: Meet the “Trash Queens”: Leading the Way in Litter Cleanup on Their Daily Walk

by | Sep 29, 2021

By Abby Turpin, Director of Communications, Keep America Beautiful

(September 29, 2021) – Five to seven days a week, you’ll find four women walking together in Middleton, Massachusetts.  Bags and grabbers in hand while on their walk, they are women making a difference who you’ll want to learn more about.  They are the self-titled “Trash Queens.”   

I connected with Susan Piccole through the Keep America Beautiful Facebook page and reached out to tell their story.  It’s these efforts that are helping beautify America’s communities.  These are stories that need to be told to inspire others to do similar acts of kindness and importance.

Susan and three friends, Claudia, Judy and Pamela, began walking together almost every day beginning in March 2020 to combat, they say, their boredom during the COVID-19 lockdown.  From day one, they began to notice the tremendous amount of trash along the trails and roads.  So, they decided they’d come with a trash bag in hand from then on and start picking up the litter.  Susan tells me she thinks, in total, they have picked up somewhere between 2000 to 2500 bags of trash in the past year and a half. 

“We average four shopping bags a day, and sometimes we get 10 bags,” Susan wrote. Word has gotten out about their efforts, and the Department of Public Works in their area is supporting them by supplying yellow bags and picking up the bags they accumulate on Tuesdays, appropriately named “Trash Tuesdays.”  

They haven’t stopped there.  They see they’re making an impact and are branching out with other ideas to help care for the community. They have begun collecting redeemable cans and are donating the proceeds to the Middleton Stream Team. This local organization works to protect and preserve the rivers and wetlands in Middleton. The money donated by the “Trash Queens” will be awarded to high school seniors who plan to go into environmental studies. 

Don’t forget the trash grabbers!  Susan and friends set up a table at the Middleton Stream Team’s Earth Day celebration recently and gave out 48 trash grabbers to families, Boy and Girl Scouts and environmental students. 

“It is amazing how excited the grade school children were with their grabbers,” wrote Susan. And she wanted to be sure to add, “All grabbers were given with parent approval.”

When stories come in to Susan about how their work is inspiring others, she “grabs” on to the opportunity.

“I post on the local community page and, when someone stated their son was unable to go to school so he opted to pick up trash and got three trash bags full, the “Trash Queen” made a quick visit and presented him with his own grabber. I just got notified that today he picked up another bag of trash, grabber in hand!”

Neil Rhein, Founder and Executive Director of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful, was thrilled to hear about the “Trash Queens” and wants to encourage all residents of the state to take action in litter cleanup by joining the Massachusetts Litter Cleanup Crew program.

“The fantastic work of the Trash Queens of Middleton is also being done by like-minded individuals and 35 local Keep Massachusetts Beautiful chapters across our Commonwealth,” said Rhein. “Our Massachusetts Litter Cleanup Crew program encourages residents to take action to keep their own streets and neighborhoods litter-free. Volunteers can sign up on our website at www.keepmassbeautiful.org/LCC and we will ship them a Litter Cleanup Kit that has all the tools needed to make neighborhood litter cleanups part of their daily or weekly routines.”

Keep America Beautiful thanks the “Trash Queens” for all they’re doing for the environment. These are the efforts we highlight, hoping to inspire even just one more person to help end littering in our beautiful country. 

“I feel we are making a difference,” Susan concluded. 

Yes, you are, “Trash Queens.”  Yes, you are.