Last year's event in East Liberty. Photo courtesy of Garbage Olympics.

This weekend, dozens of communities will compete to have the cleanest streets in town as we light the torch for the Pittsburgh Garbage Olympics.

Now in its third year, the Garbage Olympics is a citywide volunteer event/competition where teams from different neighborhoods collect litter and vie for awards like most garbage collected, the strangest item found and the dirtiest volunteer.

“This is a good way to help these neighborhood groups connect to each other and for one day in September have a citywide impact — not just a neighborhood impact,” says Lena Andrews, one of the organizers of the event and a founder of East Liberty Trash Warriors.

Garbage Olympics Trophy. Photo courtesy of the Garbage Olympics.

Andrews explains that the Garbage Olympics began in 2017 with a pilot program involving six East End neighborhoods. Last year, with support from the city’s Clean Pittsburgh Commission, the event expanded to include 22 neighborhoods. This year, teams in 34 city neighborhoods and the township of Penn Hills will compete.

Members of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission will serve as judges for the prize categories, and the Department of Public Works will provide free bags and gloves to all participants.

Public Works will also pick up the assembled trash piles at the end of the day, accepting waste normally restricted from curbside pickup. That includes televisions, mattresses and couches.

The competition lasts from 9 to 11 a.m. this Saturday, September 21. Threadbare Cider House and Meadery in Spring Garden will host an after-party starting at noon.

Asked about highlights of previous games, Andrews recalls that in 2017 a team in Lawrenceville found a diorama depicting a scene from “Twin Peaks.”

“That,” she says, “was really strange.”

Speaking with NEXTpittsburgh, Lawrenceville United Community Engagement & Program Manager Darrell Kinsel says his neighborhood is rich with odd trash and they’re looking forward to showing it off.

“With Lawrenceville being such a unique neighborhood with a lot of different characters and a lot of history,” Kinsel says, “we’re hoping for ‘the weirdest trash item.’”

He also likes their chances for dirtiest volunteer.

Learn more about the competition and get involved here.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.