I’d been noticing a lot of litter in my neighborhood. Not sure if that’s because it increased or because I was just more tuned-in. Anyway, being someone who cares about the environment I started going out and picking it up on occasion, with reasonable caution. Then one day I was on Nextdoor — which I never go on — and just happened to notice someone posting about organizing trash pickup events. There was going to be one in my neighborhood that coming weekend. I was already sold, but the offer of free lunch from Burma Superstar for the first people to show up really sealed the deal. During the pickup I got to talking to Vince, the mastermind, and ended up offering to help with creating some promotional materials.

The logo and the name, Refuse Refuse, were already set. I just needed a visually interesting way to present the information about future pickups. I came up with the idea of pairing images: An image of something people care about, and trash. A kind of visual rhetoric. That’s where these first three came from.

Flyer featuring Sutro tower with a giant plastic 6-pack holder hanging off of it

Flyer featuring a California poppy miraculously growing on a plastic bottle

Flyer featuring a distressed seagull

The above is a riff on the whimsical 49-mile scenic drive signs that can be found all over San Francisco.

The next couple were a team effort between Vince and I. He was planning a pickup/happy hour event and suggested the flyer could say “wanted: environmentally conscious party animals.”

Flyer featuring an octopus holding a pint of beer and a trash picker

In this one, Vince was planning an event in the Mission District and suggested featuring one of the neighborhood’s many street murals. I picked the Carlos Santana mural on 19th near Mission street.

Flyer featuring the likeness of Carlos Santana looking surprised/excited in front of a pile of trash

I think this last one looks the best, aesthetically. I think that’s because the image takes up a larger portion of the flyer, integrating with some of the informational elements. The rest of the text is positioned and formatted in a way that is unpredictable enough to be interesting without appearing random or messy. Also, the constricted color palette evokes show posters of the late 60s and 70s, which probably includes some of Santana’s old posters.

The software I used to make these: Procreate on the iPad for the illustrations, which were sometimes touched up a bit with Krita. The final compositions were created with Google docs, which, while lacking in some ways, makes sharing and collaboration easy.