Reduce, Reuse, Replay

A teen band called The Garbage-Men plays instruments made from recycled objects

April 20, 2012

Sarasota, Florida teen band The Garbage-Men perform: (left to right) Jack Berry, Ollie Gray, Harrison Paparatto, Austin Siegel and Evan Tucker.

Five teens from Sarasota, Florida, are making music from garbage. The Garbage-Men band’s instruments are made from recycled objects. The guitars are boxes. A horn is made from pipes. The keyboard is formed from old bottles.

The band started about two years ago. Jack Berry—who was in eighth grade at the time—decided to make a playable, homemade guitar. After some trial-and-error, he ended up building it from a cereal box, a yardstick and toothpicks. After Jack showed his creation to his friend Ollie Gray, Ollie had the idea to form a band using other homemade instruments as a way to promote recycling. “We want to show people there is more to recycling than throwing things away in the bin,” Jack, 16, told TFK. “You can actually reuse materials.”

Ollie, 15, plays drums made from trash cans. Evan Tucker, 15 (bass guitar); Harrison Paparatto, 15 (horns and violin); and Austin Siegel, 15 (keyboard), round out the band. See photos of their instruments at their website,

Playing for Good

The Garbage-Men plays at local events around Sarasota, including festivals, farmer’s markets and community fundraisers. Typically, the teens will set up on the street and perform popular songs from the 1960s, including classic Beatles tunes and crowd favorite “Wipe Out,” by The Surfaris (see the video below). In between sets, they talk about recycling and offer tips for how to help the environment. While they perform, Jack’s little brother Trent, 11, gives out flyers about recycling and helps sell the band’s CD and other merchandise.

The band donates the money from sales to charity. They have raised more than $2,500 for Heifer International.  The organization gives farm animals, seeds and agricultural training to people in poor countries to help end poverty and hunger. “It’s a good, sustainable-development charity,” Jack says. “By donating one animal, you help an entire community.”

The band—all tenth graders—tries to play a gig every week. They’ve also played on a Tampa, Florida radio station and auditioned for America’s Got Talent. The teens hope to eventually take their show on the road by touring in other states. “Music is a really good way to get a good message across to people because it's really accessible,” Jack says.  Their instruments may be garbage, but their message isn’t.

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