“Things I found on the streets”; how Instagram is capturing Atlanta

Instagram accounts turn trash found on the street into a social media platform, using the strange items found to express art and creativity. Photo by Alex Culbreth | The Signal

Walking around the streets of Atlanta, it can come as a shock to see just how much stuff litters the roads, walkways, alleys and buildings of the city. The amount of litter can be overwhelming, especially around areas surrounding Georgia State. 

Despite the overall lack of curb appeal and blatant absence of empathy for environmental measures, the litter found on the street can still be intriguing. One has to wonder how lost IDs, Marta cards, underwear and even sweatshirts find themselves glued to the backroads. 

Georgia State students and ATLiens alike have taken an interest in the garbage of the street. As this trend has grown, several Instagram accounts have emerged, showcasing several pieces of interesting trash found around Atlanta. 

These accounts, such as @thingsifoundonthestreets, showcase the genuinely bizarre things people can find on our city streets. Account owners Lily Bruce-Ritchie and Maddie Bass spend a lot of their free time walking around the greater Atlanta area and finding the strangest things. 

“One-time last year, when my roommate and I were walking around Georgia State’s campus, we found this big pile of sweatshirts on the curb. They ended up all being designers, with insane brands like Chrome Hearts and Givenchy,” Bass said. “That’s kind of when we decided to start Things I Found on the Streets. We just had so many interactions with so many different random, weird things.” 

One of Bass’s closest friends, Bruce-Ritchie, possessed a similar fascination with all of the random things encountered on the streets.

“I think all these things we find are just so random, which is a big part of the fun,” Bruce-Ritchie said. “Like we find baby’s shoes, whole watermelons, lighters, discarded books… there’s just so [many things] people leave behind.”

Although Bruce-Ritchie and Bass started the account as a joke, they now take their findings seriously. They see the junk not as garbage but as a sort of art form. 

“After working with the Instagram account, I actually started to find cool and interesting things I found on the street and incorporated them into my own art,” Bass said. “Everything we find, for the most part, has a story. Although we don’t know what that story is, I want to take the discarded things found and create a new story within my [account].” =

Apart from @thingsifoundonthestreets, other Instagram accounts have begun to spike up around Atlanta. Several of them have a particular and peculiar theme. 

Atlanta is littered with chicken bones, appearing in the strangest places around the city. Instagram accounts such as @randomchickenbonesofatl and @wingsofatl have gained massive followings simply by showcasing the sheer volume of chicken bones. 

Chicken bones, as crazy as it sounds, have become a staple throughout the Atlanta community. Artists have adopted these bones, with many using them in their projects. One artist, in particular, Chastain Bernard, is an avid user of chicken bones in his art, contributing to what has become an Atlanta meme. 

Although these things found on the streets of Atlanta can be very cool to discover, it is essential to remember to throw away your trash, recycle what you can and keep Atlanta as clean as possible. Like Bass and Bernard, a great way to do that is to transform these pieces of trash into recyclables. 

In their case, they make art with waste. It is a weird trend, but a beautiful one.