Garbage Truck Murals

The Garbage Truck Collection- 

A community arts project called The Garbage Collection was initiated by the Laidlaw Foundation and culminated in the production of murals on three Toronto garbage trucks during the summer of 2000. As important as the product, however, was a process with multiple objectives: building links between labour and environment, promoting collaborative art-making, and stimulating public discussion about environmental issues. 

The Garbage collection brought together sanitation workers from CUPE 416, environmentalist with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and community artists to share their knowledge about environmental issues and to collectively design murals. The key theme emerging form the popular education workshops was RETHINK, proposing a deeper analysis of the garbage problem and a more radical solution than reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

Project participants inverted the traditional 3 R’s triangle to represent community- based processes rather than top-down solutions. This symbol oof cultural democracy also applied to the collective mural production that involved diverse communities rather than a single artist. The Garbage Collection Project stimulated a process of rethinking trash and rethinking art. 

The Process Behind the Product-

During two days of popular education workshops, participants in The Garbage Collection Project shared stories of their relationship to trash and generated many ideas about environmental problems as well as solutions.

Community art processes ae not necessarily orderly but are often messy and generative. As we talked, we filled large board with sketches of the trucks, graphic brainstorming, and more ideas than we could use in the mural design. That creative and collective processes is reflected here.