Refuse REfuse

n / gar·​bol·​o·​gy
the study of modern culture through the analysis of what is thrown away as garbage

Vince Yuen didn’t always see trash. Once he started looking more closely at the streets around his Inner Richmond neighborhood however, he couldn’t unsee it. Trash, in all it’s forms, became his passion.

Today, Vince considers himself an amateur garbologist. He can tell you what types of trash are most prevalent in which San Francisco neighborhoods. Cigarettes. Food containers. Discarded masks. Vince has channeled his passion for trash, organizing communities across SF to get out and clean up their own streets.



During the pandemic Vince and his two young daughters began cleaning up trash on the streets around their home. Neighbors began to tag along. This led Vince to create Refuse Refuse, an organization dedicated to empowering citizens across the city to organize their own local trash cleanup days.

Since those early days of family trash pickup, Refuse Refuse has exploded. There are now organized cleanups in multiple San Francisco neighborhoods every weekend. Thousands of city-dwellers have taken up trash pickers and hefty bags. Even Giants legend Hunter Pence has donned an orange safety vest and joined in.

A Day on the street

Urban Anonymity

Vince talks a lot about “urban anonymity:” the idea that we can all start to feel lost and disconnected in a big city environment. Covid has only made this worse. Just like us, trash shares this anonymity. Once discarded, it sits on the curb or in the gutter, disconnected from those who left it there.

With Refuse Refuse, Vince hopes to break down both of these notions. Trash isn’t really anonymous. It got there because of one of us. Bringing people together to pick up our own waste reminds us of this. It builds community. It re-introduces neighbor to neighbor, and reminds us that we all share this big, beautiful, messy commons by the Bay.