Shortly after accepting the position as a laborer for the Philadelphia Sanitation Department, Terrill Haigler became an essential worker. To bridge the gap between residents and sanitation workers he created the Instagram profile @_yafavtrashman to give residents an inside look as to what sanitation workers experience during the pandemic. Terrill noticed that his co-workers didn’t have the proper PPE to execute their jobs leading him to start multiple fundraisers, including his latest to get gloves here.
RTS and Terrill have participated in multiple clean-up events in Philadelphia and we had the opportunity to sit down with him to talk about his work and his influence.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your current role.
A: After I joined Philadelphia Sanitation Department, COVID-19 hit and took my role from sanitation to essential worker. I quickly realized that residents needed to learn about what sanitation workers did on a day-to-day basis during the pandemic, so I created an Instagram profile @_yafavtrashman to give them an inside look. I quickly realized that as essential workers, we didn’t have the proper PPE to safely perform our role so I started a Custom Ink t-shirt fundraiser to purchase PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies.
Q: How was Ya Fav Trashman created?
A: I created the IG account in the summer of 2020 to shine a light on the hardships of sanitation workers here in Philly. A customer called me her “Fav Trashman” and it stuck.
Q: What kind of impact have you seen as a result of your fundraising campaigns?
A: I believe the perspective of how important sanitation workers are to a community and how people should treat them has been the biggest impact. Plus, I’ve raised over $30,000 and counting to help keep my colleagues safe and able to perform their jobs.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve?
A: That in a perfect world sanitation workers would be considered essential and not just called it. That they would get hazard pay and better working conditions. Also, by using my brand I can uplift underserved communities and provide them with much-needed resources and community clean-ups.
Q: If you could make sure readers learn one thing about the waste industry, what is it?
A: It’s the importance of respecting the people that make the operation run. How important it is for everyone to be involved to keep the community clean and that everyone has a responsibility when it comes to getting and keeping waste off the ground, and the process of trash collection.
Q: What’s one thing a reader can start doing today to reduce their eco-footprint?
A: Get into composting and also a more circular mindset when it comes to household items.
Q: How is Philadelphia doing on its path to zero waste?
A: We are on the ground floor but I have hope as we see momentum and passion build around it.
Q: How can someone sign up for one of your clean-up events? And for those not nearby, how can they participate?
A: I post my clean-ups on IG so anyone can follow and look out for announcements to see when the next event is. And I just launched my nonprofit so I will always take donations for particular campaigns or in general at Trash 2 Treasures, Inc.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: My favorite part is that I’m working for myself and doing what I love for a living.
Q: With your one-year anniversary approaching, what are your future plans?
A: My latest campaign is to buy gloves for sanitation workers. They are being poked by needles that are in the trash and are getting injured. The goal is 2,000 gloves but any amount is appreciated. I just want my former coworkers to be safe. You can learn more about it and donate here.