Street-cleaning teen takes dog along for the ride

UCSB freshman finds a helpful pandemic pastime while stuck at home

Alex Roginski places a piece of litter in a trash bin in the trailer he tows while riding his bike in a parking lot off Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park on Oct. 19, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

News

Street-cleaning teen takes dog along for the ride

UCSB freshman finds a helpful pandemic pastime while stuck at home

Alex Roginski places a piece of litter in a trash bin in the trailer he tows while riding his bike in a parking lot off Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park on Oct. 19, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Alex Roginski cruises down University Avenue with his trash picker-upper and Jack Russell terrier, Ollie, in tow.

Roginski, 18, began collecting litter along the streets of his Nealon Park neighborhood in May following the shelter-in-place order. He's since tackled other parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City, on what are usually daily two-hour trash pickups, by bike. He attached a trailer to the back of his road bike to hold a trash bin and the dog.

Ollie smiles next to a bin filled with trash that Alex Roginski has picked up in a parking lot off of Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park on Oct. 19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"I like finding a really dirty street and cleaning it," said Roginski, who graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School last spring. "What I realize is the routes I cleaned a few weeks back are still pretty clean. ... It feels like the right thing to do. I have the ability and there's an obvious problem out there that people seem to be neglecting."

Now, as he spends what would have been his fall semester at University of California at Santa Barbara at home in Menlo Park doing distance learning, he is finding his trash collection project rewarding.

Alex Roginski places some litter in a trash bin in the trailer he tows while riding his bike in a parking lot off Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park on Oct. 19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"Sometimes I see a plastic bag flying down the street and I say, 'I'm going to get that,'" said Roginski, a data science and statistics major. He changes up his trash pickup route and cleans up different streets each day.

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He collects about three bags worth of trash daily and empties the litter in public trash bins. He reuses the trash bags. "Why waste them?" he said.

Roginski said he has found "so much weird stuff" during his trash pickups. A Playboy beanie, an unopened beer, single gloves and a Sacred Heart Prep hat are among the items he has found. (He plans to post some of these usable items on Nextdoor.)

Alex Roginski uses a trash picker to grab a plastic rubber duck in a parking lot off of Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park on Oct. 19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"I found a plastic goat just chilling on the road," he said.

He was out of commission for a few days after breaking his trash picker-upper while biking 15 mph collecting trash. He sticks to about 5 mph now when he doesn't hop off his bike to pick up litter or walk Ollie.

To keep himself entertained, he listens to podcasts while biking. Currently on his playlist is "On Purpose" by a former Buddhist monk.

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He has gotten a few smiles and a "thanks," from passersby, he said. This stands in contrast to his experience as a remote college student.

Alex Roginski grabs some litter using a trash picker in a parking lot off of Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park. His dog, Ollie, sits in a trailer he tows with his bike that also holds a trash can and extra trash bags. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

"I initially thought college would be really fun," he said. "I would be in Santa Barbara on a beautiful campus, but that never happened. What actually happened is there is no way to really connect with other students right now. It's a little lonely. I leave a Zoom call and feel like, 'Damn, I was just with some robots' — people were muted and their cameras were off."

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Street-cleaning teen takes dog along for the ride

UCSB freshman finds a helpful pandemic pastime while stuck at home

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 11:28 am

Alex Roginski cruises down University Avenue with his trash picker-upper and Jack Russell terrier, Ollie, in tow.

Roginski, 18, began collecting litter along the streets of his Nealon Park neighborhood in May following the shelter-in-place order. He's since tackled other parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City, on what are usually daily two-hour trash pickups, by bike. He attached a trailer to the back of his road bike to hold a trash bin and the dog.

"I like finding a really dirty street and cleaning it," said Roginski, who graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School last spring. "What I realize is the routes I cleaned a few weeks back are still pretty clean. ... It feels like the right thing to do. I have the ability and there's an obvious problem out there that people seem to be neglecting."

Now, as he spends what would have been his fall semester at University of California at Santa Barbara at home in Menlo Park doing distance learning, he is finding his trash collection project rewarding.

"Sometimes I see a plastic bag flying down the street and I say, 'I'm going to get that,'" said Roginski, a data science and statistics major. He changes up his trash pickup route and cleans up different streets each day.

He collects about three bags worth of trash daily and empties the litter in public trash bins. He reuses the trash bags. "Why waste them?" he said.

Roginski said he has found "so much weird stuff" during his trash pickups. A Playboy beanie, an unopened beer, single gloves and a Sacred Heart Prep hat are among the items he has found. (He plans to post some of these usable items on Nextdoor.)

"I found a plastic goat just chilling on the road," he said.

He was out of commission for a few days after breaking his trash picker-upper while biking 15 mph collecting trash. He sticks to about 5 mph now when he doesn't hop off his bike to pick up litter or walk Ollie.

To keep himself entertained, he listens to podcasts while biking. Currently on his playlist is "On Purpose" by a former Buddhist monk.

He has gotten a few smiles and a "thanks," from passersby, he said. This stands in contrast to his experience as a remote college student.

"I initially thought college would be really fun," he said. "I would be in Santa Barbara on a beautiful campus, but that never happened. What actually happened is there is no way to really connect with other students right now. It's a little lonely. I leave a Zoom call and feel like, 'Damn, I was just with some robots' — people were muted and their cameras were off."

Comments

Steven Kryger
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Steven Kryger, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm
15 people like this

I had the pleasure of teaching Alex at M-A last year. Outstanding young man in every way, this does not surprise me. What a great role model for all of us!!!!


Sal
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm
Sal, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm
7 people like this

Thank you for picking up the litter it means a lot to us. It seems so depressing to have a town covered in litter. We were all raised to not litter and pick up litter. no one feels like they belong here anymore it’s not their town they’re just here for a job for a year or so. I’ve asked people and they say it’s not my town which is sad. I like it to remain a clean nice town that people are proud of so bless you you deserve support!!


David Mineau
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm
David Mineau, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm
8 people like this

I'm inspired by things like this. I have a folder of similar articles on individuals doing the little bit they can to make life better for all of us, e.g., a man in NYC who sweeps the sidewalks of his urban block every morning. It gets me out to Bayfront Expressway to pick up trash every once in a while.


[email protected]
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 23, 2020 at 4:27 pm
[email protected], Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 23, 2020 at 4:27 pm
9 people like this

Having moved to Menlo Park in the early fifties this article is truly heartwarming. So nice to see someone taking an interest in our town. His comment about noticing the streets where he has picked Up trash seem to stay relatively trash free. Ever since my kids went to M-A and I noticed so much more litter than I remember from the 60s
I maintained people won’t be apt to litter in an area that is clean and kept up. Hats off to you Alex for seeing a real need and doing something about it! Now if we could just get the city maintenance crew to empty the garbage cans throughout the city more often!


Joy Koso
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 24, 2020 at 6:19 pm
Joy Koso, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 6:19 pm
6 people like this

Thank you, Alex!


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 26, 2020 at 10:24 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 10:24 pm
1 person likes this

Nice job and a great way to support your community. Thank you


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