YouTube Star Spotlights City of San Diego Sanitation Drivers in New Video
Employees from the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) are gaining fame thanks to the newest installment of the highly popular YouTube series “Challenge Accepted.” The recently released episode, “I Tried Garbage Collection,” is shining a spotlight not on the 15-ton vehicles that loudly make their collection rounds in neighborhoods across America, but on the people who drive and operate those trucks.
Host and content creator Michelle Khare, whose YouTube channel has garnered more than 3.5 million subscribers, went along for the ride with two of the City’s sanitation drivers during actual collection shifts and documented her experience.
The “I Tried Garbage Collection” episode sets out to show how difficult (and sometimes dangerous) it is to be a sanitation driver. In the process, Khare educates viewers about things like sorting their trash, and what not to do with old batteries (lithium-ion batteries must not be disposed of in any trash, recycling or organics container, as they can ignite and catch fire when loaded into the packer truck).
On a human level, Khare’s video inspires a deep appreciation for the real people who do the real (and very dirty) work.
“We enjoyed the opportunity to highlight our employees and their hard work each and every day,” said ESD Deputy Director Conrad Wear. “Michelle captured not only the challenges of the job, but the character of the people who perform it, humanizing their work and providing a face to this essential service.”
Watching nearly 18 minutes of trash collection might not immediately seem like the most exciting thing in the world. But “I Tried Garbage Collection” is gaining traction: it trended #17 on YouTube the day it was released and currently has more than 400,000 views and counting. It’s also resonating with viewers. Many of the comments shared on YouTube reflect a newfound appreciation and respect for sanitation drivers.
In addition to highlighting some of the more serious aspects of being a sanitation driver, the video also has comic relief and some touching moments. When one of the workers rates Khare’s can-flipping skills as a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s hard not to chuckle. And at the very end of the video, when another employee talks about what this job means to her and her family, you might just cry along with her.
There are 265 job positions in the City of San Diego’s Collections Services division. In support of the City’s Zero Waste goals, and in compliance with a new state law that requires the diversion of organic waste from the landfill, the team is currently rolling out an Organic Waste Recycling collection service. Thousands of new green bins are being delivered each week so that residents can easily recycle their food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste.