Totem Lake resident, Francine Deymonaz-Taylor, has recently reached local celebrity status for her obsession with cleaning up trash and keeping her neighborhood tidy. Maybe you've seen her out working or read about her on Be Neighborly Kirkland? It all started this past spring when she noticed random trash collecting on roadsides, sidewalks, and around local businesses near 124th and 116th and thought, "someone should do something about this." She couldn't 'un-see' the litter, and quickly came to realize she couldn't wait for SOMEONE and decided to be part of the solution herself. And that's how the "Totem Lake Litter Lady" was born. In addition to her 2-hour-a-day addiction to cleaning up Totem Lake trash.
Francine is a nurse, so she had some gloves on hand, grabbed a garbage bag, and got to work. She filled that bag in less than 3 minutes and quickly realized she needed to bolster her arsenal of litter-fighting supplies. She has graduated to heavy-duty gloves, a gripper for picking things up, plenty of bags, a pushcart for the bags, and earbuds (good music is a "must" she says!). When I was sitting at coffee chatting with her, a helpful and appreciative citizen gifted her an orange reflective vest that she wears now too. She uses nearby dumpsters to dispose of her bags. Francine says, "I hate litter, have OCD, and love to organize. It's a beautiful thing when your passion and disease are aligned." Now she picks up trash every day after work for two hours, which makes her feel good because she's getting outside, doing something physical, helping her community, and receiving the visual reward of a cleaner neighborhood. But this work will never end, the job is never complete. We need to stop littering, Kirkland. Teach your kids not to litter. If you see litter, pick it up.
Our litter probably tells a lot about us, and Francine sees it all and nothing surprises her anymore. The grossest discoveries are rotten food, jugs of pee (c'mon people!?), and dead animals (not a fun cleanup). Apparently, the drug and alcohol of choice in the greater Totem Lake area are whippets, Modelo beer, and 5-hour energy drinks.
Here are some of the items she finds most often:
- Fast food/candy wrappers- hey little piggies, use a trash can, please
- Starbucks cups - people drink their $7 Grande and then toss the cup out the window?!
- Alcohol- creates waste and makes you do dumb stuff....like litter!
- Retail theft- found way too often, and Francine feels bad for the retailers in the area
- Clothes- lots of clothes and underwear. This is worrisome. Or maybe there are more naked people running around than we realized?
- Signs- politicians/realtors, we're looking at you! These turn into wet/sharp trash when you don't come back to pick them up.
- Plastic water bottles and straws/their paper wrappers- if only we could use these things less.
Francine was recently informed she will be awarded the "Heart of Kirkland" award by the Chamber of Commerce in December. This is amazing and well-deserved. But it's not enough. We can't expect one, albeit amazing, lady to tend to our litter in Kirkland. We need less littering, and more folks on pick-up patrol.
Reach out to Francine directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to join her or learn how to get some folks started in your neighborhood for some added pride in your community. She has some group events she is working on putting together soon! (weather permitting ;-)