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Pick Up America Takes Zero Waste Message Coast-To-Coast

Pick Up America is our country’s first coast-to-coast litter pick-up campaign. Youth group hosts community waste clean-ups and events to help individuals and schools make the move toward zero waste.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this…a group of young people who have banded together to go from Maryland to San Francisco, picking up trash and spreading the word about conservation and living a zero waste lifestyle.  They call their group Pick up America, and so far they have collected about 132,035 lbs of roadside litter.

The idea for the cross country trek came from Pick Up America co-founder Jeff Chen, a part-time indie documentary film maker from Washington, D.C.  Together with six like-minded environmental enthusiasts, who call themselves the Pick-up Artists, Chen left Assateague Island, Md., in March of 2010, heading toward the San Francisco Bay.

The group travels in a re-purposed diesel bus  dubbed Due West.  The bus was converted to run partly on vegetable oil, and fitted with bunk beds and a small kitchen.  The bus is both home and office as the group collects trash, works with schools and municipalities, and creates local reuse art projects across 13 states.

Pick Up America is funded predominantly through private donations and corporate sponsors, though the nonprofit gets a surprising number of roadside donations during their daily pick-up.

Although its goal is to walk the entirety of the I-94 collection route, the members occasionally take time off to work on community projects, like Art For the Sky a Cincinnati, Ohio project that forms giant works of art out of real people.

It’s said that the future belongs to the young.  And if this group is any indication about what the future of our country will look like, it’ll be cleaner, less wasteful and a better place to live.

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.


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