Some days, it can feel impossible to get your kids to pick up their toys. Now imagine getting one to pick up trash EVERY SINGLE DAY for more than a year. That’s what 20-year-old Edgar McGregor did when he came across a popular hiking spot in California that was covered in trash. It took him 589 days straight of collecting trash, but he finally got the job done.
“I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!” he posted on Twitter. “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!! WOOO!!!!”
He visited the trail in the Angeles National Forest and saw so much trash that he wanted to make a difference. He did not anticipate spending more than a year on the project, though. But much like any home improvement project dads take on (which can quickly blow past deadlines), this one continued to drag.
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
But he chipped away at it, a bit each day. He picked up trash in 60 mph winds, and in heat exceeding 120 degrees, but every day he made the park a little cleaner. McGregor told NPR that not worrying about litterbugs and simply immersing himself in this work made him more excited than ever to go out every day and pick up.
“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing brand new animals return to your park after months of cleaning up,” he continued. “I highly encourage anyone with any spare time to give this mission a shot. Your parks need you.”
And he made a tangible difference in his community, but it’s not a mission he’s stopping either. He called on the Parks and Rec department (paging LA Leslie Knope) to do more to clean the parks and not rely solely on volunteers. But he also had some simple advice for people wanting to follow in his footsteps.
“My hardest cleanup was my first day out there,” he wrote. “Just get started, and you’ll find your way.”
It’s incredible to finish any project that takes nearly two years, and all the better if it’s something good for your community and nature. McGregor, who says he has autism, has made helping the environment his passion, and he even received a shoutout from Greta Thunberg, another young person who has made a name for themselves by taking up environmental issues.
At this point, I will settle for my kids being inspired by this story to the point that they pick up the Legos clogging our basement hiking trail.