A 30 year old Upper West Sider named Anna Sacks has been making headlines for walking around the neighborhood, and all over NYC, digging through garbage.
Better known now as @thetrashwalker (on Instagram and TikTok), Sacks is a former investment banker and current waste management consultant who spends her days rifling through trash bins in the spirit of raising awareness of excess waste, pressuring companies to do something about it, and personally salvaging items which she either uses herself, gifts to friends and family, or gives to those in need.
Her latest TikTok video got 2.5 million views, so raising awareness (or just entertaining lots of people) is one goal she’s certainly meeting.
A lot of her trash trips take place right here on the UWS.
In one Instagram post, Sacks visits an Upper West Side senior center to find tons of prescription bottles with pills, clothing, pottery, and a vintage pen that could sell “for at least $200 on eBay.”
She visited the Duane Reade on Amsterdam Avenue between 78th and 79th Streets to highlight “Hundreds of bags of unrecalled peanut butter m&m’s.” She points out that they were approaching their “sell-by” dates, but in other videos says she’s comfortable eating food a month or so past expiration.
She’s gone to Upper West Side public schools to find piles of usable classroom supplies in garbage bags, and in this post calls out her “local nonprofit thrift store,” though she doesn’t name drop.
She’s also called out CVS for throwing away perfectly usable items by launching a change.org petition which aims to get the chain drugstore to change its ways. “For about a year, I’ve walked up and down the streets of New York City in the evenings to save perfectly good food and other items from CVS’s trash, which I then gift to friends, family, and people in need,” the petition states. The campaign, now at over 445,000 out of 500,000 desired signatures, urges the company to donate items it doesn’t plan on keeping on its shelves.
Another corporate confrontation took place in 2020 when Sacks – accompanied by a New York Post reporter – visited seven NYC Starbucks locations to reveal a giant amount of discarded, unsold food – even after the coffee company had promised to donate 100% of it by this time.
Sacks has been taking trash walks since 2018, and tells The Guardian she has no plans to stop, adding that “I do this because I love it and it’s fun and exciting and it relaxes me. I lose track of time.” She’s hoping her continued social media presence leads to real change.