One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Random things like a lonesome high top sneaker, a potato, and a breakfast burrito wrapper have been found on the side of the road around the New Paltz area. Photos of rubbish seen around the streets are sent in as submissions to the Instagram account @newpaltzgarbage.
Newpaltzgarbage has over 600 followers. The page has 700 posts from 2016 to current day. Finding objects out of context is part of the game and meaning of the collection. Although the page does not have an intended environmental message, it does bring an awareness of how much garbage is left untouched. The reason behind the account links to it being an art project. It is also meant to be interesting, and occasionally funny.
The photos from different streets in town such as, Church Street, Chestnut Street, and North Front Street, clutter the Instagram page while being updated with new trash. Bingo sheets, hot sauce packets, and a beer can on top of a fire hydrant have been a few of the finds.
The creator of the account, who goes by the name KG, is a resident of the Village of New Paltz. She doesn’t own a car, so walking is how she gets to work. On journeys through the village, she will see objects such as: parts of Halloween costumes, handwritten notes, and wasted food in strange places.
One of her favorite finds was a pair of boxer briefs, that were “mysteriously abandoned in the middle of Church Street,” KG said. Those boxer briefs are what inspired her to make the garbage account.
Milo Axelrod, a local graphic designer, sees the art in the page. Her top most clicked on page in her Instagram search bar, is newpaltzgarbage. The mystery of the objects makes the page elicit a reaction from people. When Milo first saw the page, her reaction to it was, “This is the best. This is art.”
When walking around, Axelrod will see items like, cucumbers, a towel, and a packet of meat, which she will then submit to the page. She will actively submit once a month, sporadically when she sees something out of context.
When seeing the towel on the sidewalk, people can only wonder how it got there. By highlighting something that is usually not framed, like a piece of garbage, the page brings light to the garbage to be looked at in a different way.
“It’s like being put on a stage. It’s a good thing because it brings awareness to trash, a lost and found, and just art,” Axelrod said.
The art on the page has prompted ideas and thoughts about the trash in the gutters and along sidewalks.The page inspired Axelrod to think about who left the garbage and gave ideas of writing short prompts about the left behind item, like the towel.
If the garbage is interesting enough, and not just typical solo cups and beer cans, your photo may be featured on the Instagram page. KG doesn’t move the garbage around to look staged. She will snap a photo of the trash, just how it is.
“The garbage just lingers; I’ve done a couple of series in which I continue to photograph the same object as it changes over time. It’s actually pretty awful. I don’t understand the logic,” KG said.
Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or through Instagram messages (@newpaltzgarbage).