A New York City activist has become an internet star by riffling through chain stores’ trash to shame them for throwing and destroying useable food, medical supplies, designer clothes as well as furniture.
Anna Sacks – who goes by the name ‘thetrashwalker’ on Instagram and TikTok – has been recording her ‘trash walks,’ where she roams Manhattan’s streets and sifts through garbage bags, since 2018.
Some of the videos show mountains of garbage bags full of unopened food and sealed disposable products from places like Party City that can still be eaten or used.
Other videos – like the one she posted March from outside of a CVS – show how companies purposefully rip the packages of edible food, hygiene products like tampons, medical supplies and an assortment of personal care like hairbrushes and dump them out before throwing them away.
Anna has also previously targeted fashion brand Coach, after pricey last season shoes were dumped, and a bag was slashed in an apparent attempt to dissuade anyone from taking it.
She has been contacted by other environmentalists with similar aims, and shared how one man even found a live parakeet discarded outside a Petco store in its cage.
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Anna Sacks – aka ‘thetrashwalker’ on Instagram and TikTok – has become an internet star by going through garbage and picking out things that can be used
A live parakeet was found in the trash outside of a Petco in a video that one of Sacks’ supporters sent to her
Anna has repeatedly condemned CVS, and shared this dumpster haul of perfectly edible candy and energy bars with toothpaste squeezed over them to deter people from taking them
Anna revealed that some of the products – such as these RX Bars and Sour Patch candy – have been deliberately opened to destroy them
Last year Sacks asked her TikTok followers who worked in retail if they’ve been instructed to destroy unsold or returned merchandise.
One TikTok user reported having to slash an office chair with a box cutter while working at an office supply store, The Guardian reported.
Sacks says that she eats many of the unopened foods and candies that she finds because they’re only a month or so past their sell-by date, which means they’re not as fresh.
She says food that’s thrown away is always safe to eat – with rare exceptions where a store held onto a product too long – and argues they should be donated.
Unopened foods that she donates or eats
Toys that are improperly thrown out
Unopened products from outside of supermarkets that are still fresh enough to eat
Her most recent TikTok video taken outside of another CVS and posted on July 7 has been viewed more than 2.5million times and elicited over 5,500 comments.
In the video, she found full garbage bags of unopened M&Ms, Lindt chocolates, heath bars and other candies.
Much of Sacks’s videos focus on waste from major corporations like CVS, Party City and Starbucks, but she’s rummaged through residential and schools’ waste in in the Upper West Side of New York City.
In videos posted over the summers, she showed NYC public schools’ waste that include school supplies, unopened foods and clothes; large black garbage bags full of overproduced bread from a bakery and less-than-day-old Dunkin’ Donuts pastries; and piles among piles of Party City holiday- and event-themed knick knacks and single-use disposable items.
Sacks has been on a mission to redefine trash. Some things like food should be donated and other things can be used, like Party City super bowl-themed items during Christmas Time
These are unopened school supplies and food as part of a NYC public school’s garbage
Unopened health bars are past their sell-by date, but Sacks says they’re still safe to eat and eats them herself
These are foods thrown out by Dunkin’ Donuts
She loads up her carts with the Party City items, which were unopened but glued together, and brings them back to her apartment.
Among the treasure trove of items, she found a pen in its case that sold for $200 on eBay outside of a senior living facility in a video posted in May, a dumpster full of designer sunglass cases in an April video, and toys like Legos that were seen in a handful of videos.
‘You have these goods you don’t want. The solution is not to dump it in the trash. The solution is to donate,’ Sacks said in a 2019 interview with NowThis.