For 14 months, Terrill Haigler was a sanitation worker in Philadelphia, living mostly as an anonymous figure in the city, picking up trash daily until his Instagram posts brought him national attention for his activism. Now, he’s an internet and local sensation known as “Ya Fav Trashman”, CEO of YaFavTrashman, LLC, and founder of the nonprofit Trash 2 Treasure.
At the height of the pandemic, and before leaving his post in February 2021, Haigler quickly realized how essential his job was. Now he’s a community activist, entrepreneur, brand ambassador, environmental activist, and most recently, an author.
“I have a theory that the way to have a cleaner, safer city is for every ZIP code to have a clean block,” Haigler, 32, said. “Studies show that littering is a learned behavior. I’ve had conversations with my own kids about litter, and their responses have been really negative. So I decided to write a children’s book to spark positive interactions with waste and recycling, as well as advocating for the importance of sanitation workers and teaching children why they need to keep their communities clean.
The book, which is called I’m cool too is a real conversation Terrill had with his kids about his job and how he does it, “but in a really fun way,” he says. “In the book, the children fall asleep and they have this dream. They end up becoming my new recruits at work and I guide them through the process of working as a sanitation worker. I show them the importance of work, people, community and not littering.
Haigler uses the book to raise funds for Philadelphia public schools, with $5 from every book sold going to the Philadelphia School District. Haigler’s goal is to sell 200,000 copies, as he hopes to donate $1 million to Philadelphia schools, depositing checks to principles to use the funds as they see fit. Haigler said he originally wrote the book for his own children: Aria (10), Aiden (9) and Aubree (5), but once he finished it he was really excited by the idea of sharing it with other children and using it as a fundraiser to benefit the children of his community.
Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Haigler currently lives in Germantown and primarily communicates with the public through his more than 31,000 Instagram followers, which he’s grown from zero in less than two years. On July 4, 2021, he spoke at the White House and he recently co-hosted Philadelphia’s first 5K Earth Day Trash Walk, which garnered coverage on the TODAY Show. In May 2022, Haigler received the Changemaker Award from Waste Expo and was also recognized as a “40 Under 40” in the waste industry.
Terrill’s 32-page book will be released on June 30e. All illustrations for the book were done by Deborah Tyson, and Philadelphia-based Empower provided project management for the book.
“One day I woke up and realized I wanted to write a children’s book,” Haigler said. “Paris and I talked and we both said, ‘let’s go,’ and we got to work right away. The manuscript was done last September, and since then we’ve been working as hard as we can. as possible to complete the process and make this dream a reality. The day when we surpass 200,000 books sold will be very special, and I know that day is coming soon.
Learn more and pre-order the book at http://yafavtrashman.com/im-cool-tooand follow YaFavTrashman on Instagram at http://instagram.com/_yafavtrashman.