Students host clean-up day to combat Dinkytown litter

“Dinkytown Clean Up Day” gives students an incentive to pick up trash.

Joseph Scholl and Kelley Bunge throw bags of trash collected in Dinkytown into a pick-up truck on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Image by Jack Rodgers

Joseph Scholl and Kelley Bunge throw bags of trash collected in Dinkytown into a pick-up truck on Sunday, Nov. 5.

by Kelly Busche

Armed with plastic bags and rubber gloves, University of Minnesota students took to the streets Sunday to combat litter in Dinkytown.

The student-organized “Dinkytown Clean Up Day” was held in collaboration with local businesses. The event incentivized students to collect litter in exchange for coupons at local restaurants. 

“I know there are a lot of parties… and a lot of trash gets thrown around,” said Ardes Johnson, a former 23-year Dinkytown resident. “But that doesn’t mean it has to be a trashy neighborhood just because it’s a student neighborhood.”

Tim Hortons, Espresso Royale, Frank from Philly and Andrea Pizza and The Book House in Dinkytown all offered coupons to participants.

Johnson said litter is a problem in the neighborhood, and ultimately reflects poorly on the University. 

People are more likely to litter in Dinkytown because they don’t think it bothers student residents, she said.  

“The visitors and the students would never throw a beer bottle in their neighbor’s yard in the town they come from,” Johnson said.

University Senior Kelley Bunge said the clean-up day was created for an industrial engineering class project after she identified a problem with Dinkytown litter.

Events and holidays like homecoming and Halloween often bring an excess of trash, Bunge said.

The group collected the bags of trash outside of Tim Hortons, which supplied the gloves and bags for the event. An hour into the event, the group had already filled the bed of a pick-up truck with bags of trash students collected in the neighborhood.

According to Bunge, the students who participated were excited to help. Many planned on participating, while others decided to help when they saw the event table.

University student Cassie Tieman participated in the clean-up day. Tieman said people stopped and thanked her for picking up trash in Dinkytown.

University student Danny Sachs said although he initially participated for coupons, cleaning the neighborhood “still felt good at the end of the day.”

Tieman and Sachs filled an entire bag after collecting trash for four blocks. 

Bunge said she hopes the event will inspire others to be more aware of their litter habits.

“I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but I think it’s good to be aware of [litter] and it’s good to help mitigate it,” Bunge said. 

Randy Gast, vice president of the Dinkytown Business Alliance, said although he sees people litter in Dinkytown every day, regular clean-up efforts help mitigate the problem.

“I see people picking up trash every day, and leaving [trash] too,” Gast said.

Gast said businesses in Dinkytown also work to keep the neighborhood clean.

“If there was some business that never picked up trash, you would notice it as you walked down the street,” Gast said.