‘It’s A Year-Round, Constant Effort’: These Are The Lehigh Valley’s Litter Vigilantes

(Lehigh Valley News) About two years ago, Monica Beaky posted a simple statement online – “this trash is ridiculous” – and asked for help. She didn’t get many responses. So, she tried again. “I did it again this year thinking hopefully, maybe I’ll get something,” Beaky said. “And this year, the response was just overwhelming, frankly. I think the initial Next Door post had like 100 plus responses to it. Everybody wants to be involved.

“And so I figured, ‘OK — I’m running with this now.’”

Beaky started Trash Raiders Lehigh Valley, a volunteer group that works to pick up litter and garbage across the region. But Beaky’s is not the only group of Valley residents to take trash matters into their own hands. Residents across Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and beyond have created and volunteered with a handful of groups all working towards the same goal — to beautify the region by excising litter from the landscape.

And there’s plenty of work to do.

There are more than 500 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads, according to the state’s latest litter research study, published in January 2020. Cigarette butts and plastic make up the bulk of the trash, 37% and 30%, respectively. The report found that motorists and pedestrians are the leading litter contributors.

Beaky soon found an ally in her work — Kathy Frederick, founder of LV Clean Up. Frederick has been litter-picking for two years, she said, posting photos online before and after to show the impact.

“It’s so satisfying,” Frederick said. “There’s really no greater, more immediately satisfying work than seeing a junked up area, and then an hour or two later it looks 100% trash free and you know you were responsible for that. It’s really, really gratifying.”

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