‘Pick it Up Provo’: BYU student creates art from street litter

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Emily Hakala poses with her bike. Hakala rides her bike to campus everyday and collects trash along the way to make art. (Tenley Hale)

BYU Advertising student Emily Hakala collects trash on her route to campus in order to create art that she hopes will inspire people to be conscious of their litter.

Emily Hakala displays an art piece made from plastic flossers she found tossed in the street. These flossers are what motivated her to start this project. (Tenley Hale)

Hakala started collecting trash after noticing the amount of garbage on the streets while she rode her bike to school.

“The first thing that caught my eye were these gross plastic flossers,” Hakala said. “Who is flossing in public and then throwing it on the ground after?”

Hakala was so bewildered by these she thought it might be funny to make art out of them. As she started trying to find flossers she noticed other kinds of trash in the street. That evolved into collecting bottle caps, cans, etc.

Because Hakala bikes to school she is limited to collecting only smaller pieces of trash. Hakala will bring a plastic bag in her pocket as she rides to school and fill it up as she goes.

“The most trash I see is in the gutters,” Hakala said. “That’s definitely something I didn’t notice until I started paying attention.”

Hakala started collecting trash a month ago and has already amounted a large collection.

Emily Hakala holds up a garland made of cans found tossed in the street. She has only been collecting trash for a month and has already collected a large amount. (Tenley Hale)

“People will always ask me how long it took me to find all of this but the crazy part is it hasn’t even been that long,” Hakala said. “It’s really gross, right?”

Emily said that she tries not to bring too much trash home to her apartment in an attempt to spare her roommates.

“I’m actually really amazed by Emily’s creativity,” Kiana Malzl, Hakala’s roommate, said.

Malzl said she was impressed by Hakala’s willingness to do something most people would not do in order to bring attention to a good cause.

“Emily’s trash project makes me uncomfortable but it’s also a great cause so I support it,” Morgan Farley, another of Hakala’s roommates, said.

Hakala created the Instagram account Pick It Up Provo to document the artwork she creates. She hopes her Instagram account and the posters she hangs will help people think about the litter around them and not ignore it.

“I just want people to realize there is trash in the street and that they can do something about it,” Hakala said. “If everyone just takes a moment to think twice when they see something on the ground then that will make a bigger difference than me creating tons of art.”

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