Clean Tahoe art piece uses trash to raise awareness

Laney Griffo
The piece is made up of pieces of sled trash.


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — One local organization is using art to shine a spotlight on the trash problem plaguing the Lake Tahoe Basin.

While trash of all sorts are an issue for the basin, one item that continues to leave its traces each year is the plastic sled. During the 2019-20 winter season, more than six tons of trash was collected from the Spooner sled hill, which is just one of many sled hills around the basin.

So, Clean Tahoe, a program that provides a number of services including litter removal, volunteer programs and community cleanup and education, decided to highlight the continuing sled trash problem.

“I’ve seen some garbage art pieces in the past done with water bottles and other stuff and with all the colors [of the sled pieces] I was thinking they would be cool pieces of garbage to do a piece of garbage art with,” 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 attaching pieces of sled plastic onto the wood piece, mosaic style. The idea behind the project was, Tahoe covered in trash.

“I just felt it was a good way to raise awareness about how much sled trash there really is,” Sheehan said. “I wanted it to be really big, to make it impactful of how many shards of sleds are on the hills. I could’ve probably covered 15 of those big Tahoes with all the stuff down there.”

The piece is currently in the lobby of South Lake Tahoe City 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 throughout the city,” said Lindsey Baker, assistant to the city manager. “These displays shed light on the community’s uniqueness and identity. Art pieces and installations enhance the environment by bringing streetscapes, buildings, and schools to life. It also proves to be an effective medium for communicating key public messages – much like the Clean Tahoe piece has done, bringing awareness to the environmental issues created by inexpensive, plastic sleds. With the City Council’s creation of the new Arts, Culture, and Tourism Committee, we look forward to focusing more on public art to further enhance quality of life for residents and visitors.”

This winter, Sheehan hopes to display the piece somewhere very public, like on the casino corridor.

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

Once the summer is over, Sheehan also wants to create a summer themed trash piece with the garbage that has been collected this year.

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

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

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.