Germantown man teaches trash education through Instagram and a children’s book | Lifestyle

Trash. Everyone has it, but not everyone disposes of it correctly. Everything from recycling to trash pick up can be different from community to community. Some neighborhoods have trash everywhere, others are spotless. It is clear that trash education is not equal in all parts of the city. That’s where Ya Fav Trashman comes in.


Terrill Haigler was a laborer for the Philadelphia Streets Department for 14 months. He was responsible for picking up the city’s trash. While there, he realized there was a severe lack of communication between the department and the residents. Residents did not know when trash pick up was going to be late or if the schedule changed.

Haigler also noticed that residents were not properly educated on how to dispose of certain trash materials and many times that would mean their trash would not get picked up and that would cause some frustration. That is when Ya Fav Trashman was born. Haigler started an instagram page @_yafavtrashman to give residents an inside look on what sanitation workers experienced during the pandemic and also inform the residents on trash pick up.

“When I was a sanitation worker on the route, there was this older woman. I would say she was in maybe her mid 80s or early 90s. When I put her cans back on the street she would shuffle out, grab one can and shuffle back. After a few times I said you know what, I’ll just put your cans on your porch for you. One day she was like, you’re my fav trashman. When I made the Instagram, I just kept hearing her voice over and over,” says Haigler of how he came up with his name.

Haigler’s need to start an Instagram and communicate with the residents came out of frustration at the height of the pandemic. Trash was building up because more people were home. “Nobody knew what day we were on. Nobody knew how to recycle. There was so much frustration, so much miscommunication and so much misinformation. When I said something to the higher ups they said it’s been like that forever,’ says Haigler.

But this time it was different, the world was in a pandemic with people sheltering at home and record amounts of trash piling up. There was more trash on the streets and residents were frustrated and walking through piles of trash in their own neighborhoods. Haigler decided to do his part in helping to solve the problem. This is where his clean up advocacy began. His Instagram now has 31.5 thousand followers.

Haigler has many stories from his time picking up trash in Philadelphia. A resident once pulled out a gun on him and tried to force him to take trash that was not recyclable. “To get that mad at your trashman because you don’t have information to me was a signal that I have to do something,” says Haigler.

Some communities are informed and educated on how to properly dispose of trash and some are not. Trash that can not be picked up by sanitation workers stays on the street and creates an untidy environment. It’s a trickle down effect.

People are not aware that grease strained pizza boxes are not recyclable or that glass containers need to be rinsed. Some don’t know that every plastic bottle has a number under it and that different communities only recycle certain numbers.

YaFavTrashman started his trash advocacy on Instagram and has now released a children’s book to start this education process early on. Haigler says, “Studies show that littering is a learned behavior. I’ve had conversations with my own children about littering, and their responses were really negative. So I decided to write a children’s book to ignite positive interactions with waste and recycling, as well as to advocate for the importance of sanitation workers, and to teach children why they have to keep their communities clean.”

The book is titled “Im Cool Too” and Haigler is using the book to raise money for Philadelphia public schools, $5 from every book sold will be donated to The School District of Philadelphia. His goal is to sell 200,000 copies so he can donate $1 million dollars to Philly schools.

Learn more and pre-order the book at and follow @_YaFavTrashman on Instagram.

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