#NotALazyStoner is well-intentioned, but not sustainable

A logo to bring stoners around their cause. Photo courtesy of Stoner Cleanup Initiative.

The stoner clean-up initiative is in limbo
A logo to bring stoners around their cause.
Photo courtesy of Stoner Cleanup Initiative.

The#StonerCleanupInitiative started in February 2017 with a cleanup of 10 blocks of the dirtiest part of Southern Philadelphia. It was dubbed the “Broad Street Brush Up,” and a total of 13 weed enthusiasts participated, filling up 13 industrial-sized trash bags. Eventually, the movement received internet and media attention, but it came a little too late, as the movement itself already had one foot in the grave.

The movement began using the forum website Reddit. Under the chat thread “r/trees,” the idea was conceived that if cannabis users began to clean up their favorite public smoking areas and posted pictures of them doing so online, the public would link litter cleanup and nature preservation to the smoking community. The thread r/trees is, according to Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, one of the largest online groups of cannabis users; it has over a million members, which implies mass participation, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

A report released on July 25, 2018 from NowThis, an internet-based news company, brought much attention to the cleanup and the use of the hashtag #NotALazyStoner, which NowThis credits Justin Michaud, a Philadelphian musician, with founding.

Michaud doesn’t take credit, however. “I didn’t start the [cleanup] initiative at all,” he said. “It started just as a way to get people out and moving and motivated and healthy. We bike ride, we go hiking, we do endurance challenges. It started as that, then a friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t we do a park cleanup?’ I said, ‘Why don’t we do a cleanup of part of South Philly?’”

But Michaud knows failure. When The Sentry reached out to Michaud for updated comments on the movement, Michaud reported a different story than that recently published by NowThis.

“Honestly, the whole thing is pretty much dead,” Michaud said. “It doesn’t go anywhere; I’ve since pretty much stopped setting up events. It’s really now just an initiative for myself and if someone wants to join me, that’s great. I don’t set up events anymore because it’s just too much time and energy for me to be doing that and nobody caring about it.”

Michaud has ideas about why the movement hasn’t exactly taken off. “Most of [the events] happen on weekends, so people don’t want to get up,” Michaud said. “It’s hard to get people to sacrifice their sleep. It worked a few times, and then after that, nobody really wanted to do anything else. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money or time to put forth the effort for a massive marketing campaign. It was just like ‘okay, I guess we’re going to kill it.’”

Regardless of if the movement will be revived, which Michaud doesn’t see anything to revive as the initiative is “always there,” he believes “it’s not about the number [of participants]. We are still putting forth the effort, and a small impact is at least a positive impact on the communities.”

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