CLEANING UP: Pittsburg women turn trash talk into trash action

Melissa Pixcar Image
ByMelissa Pixcar KGO logo
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Turning trash talk into trash action
Doing a small gesture can make a world of a difference. Pittsburg citizens who have never met form a community cleanup group after noticing the amount of trash that people were leaving behind.

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- An unlikely online friendship between two Bay Area women frustrated over trash on the streets of Pittsburg has grown into a real world grassroots neighborhood cleaning campaign.

In January 2018, Savanna Bales and Madison August found themselves on a Facebook page where many Pittsburg residents were complaining about the trash throughout the city.

But while everyone else was just talking, Bales and August decided to do something about it.

The two women, who had never met in person, decided to meet and pick up trash along one stretch of road.

"We just came out... just the two of us," said August, Co-Founder of Clean Pittsburg.

After their first cleanup they decided to have a cup of coffee and post about their effort on a community Facebook page.

"And it got hundreds and hundreds of likes and comments and people asking how they can join," recalled August.

"We looked at each other and wondered if this could become a thing. We decided an hour a week was a totally reasonable ask," said Bales. "We've pretty much stuck to that."

Clean Pittsburg describes itself as a group of ordinary citizens who meet for one hour to make their city a better place to live.

"I think that people just don't really care. It's out of sight out of mind and they just toss it out of their car window and they just forget about it," said August. "At the end of the day it is us that are living here and us that have to deal with it and it is up to us to really clean up."

Within a year and a half Clean Pittsburg has had over a hundred volunteers come attend their cleanup events. The group has picked up thousands of pieces of trash that include plastic cups, bottles, fast-food wrappers, and cigarette butts.

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Clean Pittsburg has garnered support from the City of Pittsburg who supplies the group with trash bags, trash grabbers, gloves and sends Public Works to collect the trash. The Rotary Club of Pittsburg collaborates with the group once a month for a big cleanup event.

Christina Flint, a long-time Pittsburg resident joined the group after seeing a Facebook post from Clean Pittsburg.

"I'm a Mom, I got two kids and I am very busy but I can come out for an hour and make a difference in my community," said Christina Flint. "Everyone has an hour every week."

It is a family affair for the Flints. Christina and her husband say they bring their two daughters to model a sense of empathy and concern for their community.

"It is just hurting the environment," said 10-year-old Carol Flint. "We pick up the trash that people have littered and it just makes the community look more beautiful and it's not that polluted."

"This is where we live and we work. This is where our kids are going up," said Christina Flint. "Why wouldn't you want to build a better bay area."

Clean Pittsburg hopes that more people will join the group and will take pride in their city.

"I feel like it's my duty as a citizen to clean up," said August. "It just feels so good knowing that all of that stuff is off of the ground."

To volunteer and take action fill out a waiver form on their website

Watch the safety video on their Facebook page to prepare for the next cleanup event.