We’ve all been enjoying a picturesque trail, breathing in the smells of nature and enjoying the escape, when we see it: a discarded empty water bottle or some other form of trash. One man in California has taken it on himself to make these encounters fewer and further between.
Edgar McGregor recently spent 589 straight days gathering all the trash he found in the Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Los Angeles County. McGregor, a 20-year-old with autism, celebrated the 589th day with a tweet saying he’d picked up all the municipal garbage in the park.
In a posted video, he said, “Over the last two clean ups, I have covered an enormous portion of my park, checking the entire main trail, checking all the waterfalls, all the storm drains, everything, making sure my park is completely clean, and for the first time in 589 days, I can say with confidence that my park, Eaton Canyon, one of Los Angeles’ most popular hiking trails, if not the most popular hiking trail, is completely free of municipal waste.”
I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!!
After **589** days of picking up trash every single day, I can say with confidence that Eaton Canyon, one of Los Angeles’s most popular hiking trail, is now free of municipal waste!
I’VE DONE IT!!! WOOOOOO!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/s4ouDM6Nga
— Edgar McGregor (@edgarrmcgregor) March 5, 2021
Does that mean he’s stopping? Nope. McGregor tweeted that he still plans to visit two or three times a week until COVID restrictions are lifted. After that, he says there will likely be even more people because they’re currently on a reservation system limiting access.
McGregor told NPR, “Not worrying about litterbugs and simply immersing myself in this work has made me more excited than ever to go out every single day and pick up. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing brand new animals return to your park after months of cleaning up. I highly encourage anyone with any spare time to give this mission a shot. Your parks need you.”
McGregor has also made some money off of recyclable items he’s picked up. With that, he said he’s earned $400 that have gone toward planting native trees at Eaton Canyon, a donation to the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and to help an initiative to install solar panels in schools in rural Uganda. Some has also gone to political candidates pledging to address climate change.
Successfully hiked to the snow in my park IN LOS ANGELES!!
Not a lot of trash up here. Cleanup day 595. pic.twitter.com/e5yopht3vF
— Edgar McGregor (@edgarrmcgregor) March 11, 2021
McGregor plans to turn his passion for the planet into a career. He’s headed to San Jose State University this fall to study climatology and meteorology. He’ll still have lots of love for his park, though, and thinks it’s the best in southern California.
He says, “None of them compare to Eaton Canyon. It’s like a little piece of Zion right here in our backyard… I love watching our park go through the seasons.”
As the Twitter chronicles of his efforts show, he’s braved some tough conditions, including snow, extreme winds, rain, nearby fires, and thunderstorms, to keep attacking the trash problem. He says he just heads out with a bucket, gloves, and a good pair of shoes. He encourages everyone else to take those same supplies to their local parks and give them a good spring cleaning, too.
I’ve been asked several times today what inspired me to pick up trash in my local park every day for almost 2 years.
Let me give you a hint: pic.twitter.com/ry44oGxhnk
— Edgar McGregor (@edgarrmcgregor) March 6, 2021
He tweeted, “Every single day, I wake up and can’t wait to go on my daily trash pickups. Maybe it is because I am autistic and can really connect with nature, but I seriously love these things. I implore you all to give a similar mission a try. It’s a socially distant activity.”
To keep up with his efforts to beautify the trails, visit his Twitter page.Whizzco