Kim and I made our way through a quiet downtown Geneva two Sunday afternoons ago. We stopped at FLX Frybird for takeout. While getting back into the car a couple passed by us each holding a bulging, full plastic bag and one of those grabber things.
I looked at Kim and without saying anything she knew exactly what was next. A u-turn on Seneca Street to catch up with this young man and woman.
The two were in their own kind of world. Music was playing. It sounded pretty good. Very crisp and clear. Much like a boombox from days past but in this case it was a small bluetooth thingamajig in his pocket that picked up Spotify.
Zach Allard and Ally Dean were finishing up an almost two-hour leisurely jaunt that took them from Exchange Street to the Geneva campus of FLCC and a zig-zag back. All the while, they picked up trash along the way.
It’s something the two have been doing for a few months now every Sunday regardless of weather. It is either in Geneva where Zach, 34, lives or in Rochester where Ally, 28, resides.
The couple claim they are just two environmentally conscious citizens who not only work to lessen their own carbon footprint but also help others with these trash collecting journeys.
The effort really took hold when Zach saw the grabbers for sale at a Harbor Freight store in Rochester.
He simply had enough of constantly seeing discarded garbage wherever he went. Ally is cut from the same cloth, and it took no effort to get her to join in on his walks.
The music certainly keeps things alive. I noticed Ally quietly dancing along as she picked up garbage. I asked what was playing and was told “Suave Puppy Radio,” featuring a jazz fusion type sound.
Maybe there’s something to this trash pickup movement. A couple of months ago I did a column on a guy in Seneca Falls who picks up trash regularly. Much to my surprise, the piece was shared over 100 times on Facebook?!
Zach is originally from the Buffalo area and made his way eastward for a few years where he found employment at the second oldest brewery in western New York — CB Craft Brewers in Honeoye Falls. He made his way from the ground up to brewmaker.
The brewery closed in 2019 with one media outlet saying, “CB’s lasting impact and ultimately its biggest gift to the Rochester-area beer scene comes in the form of the employees who started there and moved onto other breweries.”
Zach was one of those workers. He left CB and now is the brewmaker at the Twisted Rail Brewery in Geneva. It’s one of Twisted Rail’s four locations. When Twisted Rail started, they were serving mostly CB Crafters Beer. These days they serve only Zach’s creations — now approaching close to two dozen varieties. One of his pale ales — Ale Aboard — has won a Silver Medal.
Certainly COVID-19 has affected business, but the place does what it can, including selling Twisted Rail beer in cans to go.
When things are “normal” Zach says brewmakers are a close-knit group who meet up at beer festivals.
Zach lives in an apartment above the brewery.
As far as the trash thing. He says it is mind-blowing how much two people can pick up. By far the most common items are discarded face masks. A close second, for some unknown reason, are Snickers candy bar wrappers.
Along the way people often express their appreciation.
He hopes more people can take an equal amount of pride in their city. Come spring he hopes to help make that happen with an event tentatively called “Let’s Get Trashed.” He would love for people to meet up at Twisted Rail on Sundays and head out together to help make Geneva clean and beautiful. The payoff? Not only making the city look better and meeting some great like-minded people but at the end of the hour or so walk possibly enjoying a free glass of beer, ale or lager. Naturally, if a trash collector is not 21, a non-alcohol beverage can be substituted. This collaborative effort/idea is in its early stages of planning.
Zach expects that when spring does arrive, quite a bit of trash will resurface from beneath any snow that had accumulated.
I think the “Let’s Get Trashed” concept is a great one, and I am contributing $100 toward the first spring event if it comes to fruition. Certainly enough of a reward for 20 people. It goes without saying that it is expected those who drink will do so responsibly.
Maybe other sponsors can step up for other Sundays to help Keep America Beautiful.
Lady Bird Johnson was instrumental in convening the White House Conference on Natural Beauty in 1965. Ultimately the non-profit Keep America Beautiful organization was created. Keep America Beautiful to this day still aims at ending littering, to improve recycling, and to beautify American communities.