Clean Tahoe artwork uses waste to raise awareness

The room is made up of pieces of sled rubbish.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif .– A local organization uses art to shine the spotlight on the litter problem plaguing the Lake Tahoe Basin.

While garbage of all kinds is a problem for the pond, one item that continues to leave its mark every year is the plastic sled. During the 2019-2020 winter season, more than six tonnes of trash was collected from the Spooner Sled Hill, which is just one of many sleigh hills around the basin.

So Clean Tahoe, a program that provides a number of services including garbage disposal, volunteer programs, and community cleanup and education, decided to highlight the lingering problem of sled waste. .

“I’ve seen trash art in the past made with water bottles and other stuff and with all the colors [of the sled pieces] I thought that would be cool trash to make a piece of art with trash, ”said Katie Sheehan, executive director of Clean Tahoe.

Heather Topol financially sponsored the art project and Wally Wood Co. provided Clean Tahoe with a large wooden cutout of Lake Tahoe.

Sheehan and former Clean Tahoe program assistant Cindy Ochoa began tying pieces of plastic sled to the piece of wood, mosaic style. The idea behind the project was, Tahoe covered in trash.

“I just felt like it was a good way to raise awareness of how much sledging trash there really is,” Sheehan said. “I wanted it to be really big, to have an impact on the number of sledge splinters on the hills. I probably could have covered 15 of those Big Tahoes with all the stuff in there.

The piece is currently in the lobby of South Lake Tahoe Town Hall and the city was happy to have it.

“Public art gives the city of South Lake Tahoe the opportunity to support our local artists and showcase their diverse talents across the city,” said Lindsey Baker, assistant city manager. “These displays highlight the uniqueness and identity of the community. Artworks and installations improve the environment by bringing streetscapes, buildings and schools to life. It’s also proving to be an effective way to communicate key public messages – just like the Clean Tahoe article did, raising awareness of the environmental issues created by inexpensive plastic sleds. With the creation by the City Council of the new Arts, Culture and Tourism Committee, we look forward to focusing more on public art to further improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.

This winter, Sheehan hopes to display the piece in a very public location, such as in the hallway of the casino.

“Have it placed, in the winter, where people can see it and people get drawn to it and read what it’s made of and realize that they can’t do that,” Sheehan said.

After the summer is over, Sheehan also wants to create a summer-themed trash can with the trash that has been collected this year.

“I think art is a great way to raise awareness and be creative in raising awareness about these issues instead of just complaining,” Sheehan said.

For now, the piece can be viewed at 1901 Airport Rd, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 96150.