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Sesame Street
Garbage on Sesame Street
Air date April 22, 1970 (Earth Day)
Season Season 1 (1969-1970)
Production March 26, 1970
Sponsors I, P, U, 6, 7

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Picture Segment Description
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SCENE 1 Gordon observes a mess of trash that has been thrown all over Sesame Street. He recruits Susan, Bob, and the kids to start gathering it and tasks one kid with finding the largest cardboard box he can find. There's too much trash to place in bags, so they're just going to have to use a PLEZUZMI β€” a word he promises to define after spelling it out.
Song "Where the Garbage Goes," a song film which explains what happens to garbage after it gets thrown away.
Music by Peter Schickele
(First: Episode 0077)
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SCENE 2 The cardboard box has been painted to look like a creature that has an opening and hinge acting as its mouth. It's a PLEZUZMI β€” "please use me" β€” as it holds a sign that says it likes to eat all kinds of junk.

Oscar sees what's going on and complains about his trash being messed with. He says he'll put the trash back in his can, but after he starts his new business.

As everyone continues to clean up the trash, Gordon is disgusted, so he tries to imagine something more pleasant...

Film A film shows parts of a flower.
Music: Vivaldi's Concerto for lute, 2 violins, and continuo in D Major: II - Largo
(First: Episode 0008)
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SCENE 3 Amongst a street now littered with PLEZUZMIs, Susan sees a smokestack coming out of Oscar's can. Gordon demands that he shut it down because it's producing vast amounts of pollution. Oscar complies, but complains about the millions he could have made selling bottled smoke to other Grouches. After Oscar retreats into his can, Gordon notes that grouches might like to breathe smoke, but everyone else wants fresh, clean air.
Muppets Lefty sells Ernie some air, but when Ernie waves to Bert, wanting to show it to him, he drops it. According to Bert (who didn't know what Ernie had), "It couldn't have vanished into thin air." But Ernie sobs, "Yes, it could, Bert! It could!"
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SCENE 4 Susan sings "The Garden" to Oscar, to teach him to take care of the environment. She pleads with the audience, "That's why, children of America, we're gonna clean up all this litter, and we're not gonna let the Oscars beat us out. Put it in a PLEZUZMI, I thank you."
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SCENE 5 Over in the yard, Bob sings "Picture a World" while the kids play jacks with a PLEZUZMI in the background.
Segment Alphabet Bates draws a P in the sky.
(First: Episode 0054)
P pirate pistol.jpg
Cartoon A short poem about a pirate and his puppy demonstrate the letter P.
(First: Episode 0057)
Cartoon An award for "U".
Animation by Cliff Roberts
(First: Episode 0036)
Cartoon Speech Balloon: U for Umbrella
(First: Episode 0038)
Muppets An Anything Muppet presents the letter U. Another Muppet repeatedly insists, "That's not a 'me,' that's a U!"
(First: Episode 0048)
Cartoon A Gary Owens-voiced man attempts to discuss the letter I, but is jeered by an offscreen voice. The man uses him as an example of the word "impolite".
(First: Episode 0032)
Cartoon Speech Balloon: I - ice cream.
(First: Episode 0033)
Muppets Kermit's Lectures: Kermit talks about clues. He shows that a boy has grown some carrots because he has garden tools, a watering can, and a packet of seeds. Next, he confirms that a man has built a birdhouse because of his blueprints and carpenter's tools. When he notices Beautiful Day Monster with a suitcase and an umbrella, Kermit assumes that the monster is going on a trip and using the umbrella as protection from the rain. The monster corrects him; he's planning to eat his umbrella, and uses the suitcase to carry the ketchup he'll use to eat it with.
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SCENE 6 Susan has to run off to Hooper's Store, so she asks Big Bird to answer the phone for her if it rings. Big Bird hears a faint knocking, which grows louder, spooking him into thinking that a group of monsters could be present. When Susan returns, she tells Big Bird that the knocking was coming from the bathroom door, which was moving because of a draft.
Cartoon Children describe how to draw an elephant.
(First: Episode 0052)
Muppets An Anything Muppet boy teaches "forward" and "backward" with a group of Muppets who keep running over the boy when his back is turned.
(First: Episode 0069)
Pat Paulsen forward backward.jpg
Celebrity Pat Paulsen demonstrates "forward" and "backward".
(First: Episode 0069)
Film "Seven Song (Song of Seven)"
(First: Episode 0011)
Muppets Ernie & Bert β€” Ernie has seven jellybeans, and Bert has six. To make it even, Ernie eats the extra jellybean. That's fair, isn't it?
(First: Episode 0014)
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SCENE 7 In the kitchen, Susan reads a book to the kids: Who Will Wake Up Spring? by Sharon Lerner. After, she explains that spring wakes herself up with things like the budding of the trees. One kid thinks it takes a hundred years.
Muppets Kermit's Lectures: Kermit plays a sorting game with squares and circles, until Cookie Monster arrives and takes a bite out of the shapes. Kermit is upset, until he tastes one of them, and he joins Cookie Monster in finishing off the rest!
(First: Episode 0094)
Cartoon A male voice narrates a story of a jazzy triangle who loved to dance, and a square square. The triangle likes being flexible, but the square would rather be stiff and *square*.
Music: "Waltz in Mean Time," David Lee
(First: Episode 0007)
Muppets Kermit tries to give a lecture on being happy, but Cookie Monster eats Kermit's happy face prop, which makes him mad.
(First: Episode 0066)
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SCENE 8 Gordon points out that the PLEZUZMIs you see in your neighborhood may not look like this, but please use it. Oscar admits that the street looks better all cleaned up. This makes him grouchy, so he announces the sponsors.


  • Caroll Spinney recalls the filming of Scene 3 in his autobiography The Wisdom of Big Bird. The original script called for thick black smoke to be produced by Oscar's smokestack.[3] An electrician had devised a small shelf behind the trash can which held a pie pan containing a mixture of kerosene and black rubber to create the smoke.[4]

β€œI told the electrician I didn't like the setup, that it looked downright dangerous to have it burning right above my head. "Don't worry about it," he assured me as he put a match in the liquid. Blue flames danced around the rubber, and black smoke began to curl upward.

"Countdown to actionβ€”five, four...," came the call. The oil began to boil. The electrician lowered a stovepipe over the flaming liquid, and as a roar erupted, I stood up and pushed the whole trash-can unit forward so I could escape this frightening inferno. "Hey! Get back in there!" the floor manager shouted. "We're rolling!"

"Not me!" I replied. At that instant the stovepipe exploded and the flames burst fifteen feet up the side of the brownstone. Panic took over as people frantically searched for fire extinguishers. There didn't seem to be any on the set floor. Some were brought in from outside, and the fire was put out.

The inside of the trash can was totally burned out, exactly where my head would have been. Later we did the scene again with cool white smoke and without the electrician.[4]”

  • Spinney shared another anecdote from this episode in a 1973 Chicago Tribune interview, regarding scene 6:

β€œBig Bird was very incidental to Sesame Street for the first 100 shows, just adding a little fantasy to the realistic street scene. One day I did a solo thing where I went into Gordon’s kitchen, heard a sound, and built up this fear about monsters in the hallway. It worked, and the writers began creating bits for me.”

He similarly describes this scene "about the hobgoblins in your imagination" in May 12, 2001 during his interview with The Archive of American Television (01:36:25)


  1. ↑ American Archive of Public Broadcasting β€” AAPB ID cpb-aacip/512-125q815g35
  2. ↑ Rome, Adam. The Genius of Earth Day, page 160
  3. ↑ Script documents provided by a trusted source
  4. ↑ 4.0 4.1 Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird. p. 105-106

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