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Climate science undergrad spends more than 1000 straight days cleaning trash from his local parks

'I highly encourage anyone with any spare time to give this mission a shot. Your parks need you,' the 21-year-old urged.

Climate science undergrad spends more than 1000 straight days cleaning trash from his local parks
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Edgar McGregor

A young climate activist is a shining example of how one person can make a big impact. Edgar McGregor, 21, has been raising awareness about the need to protect our environment by conducting daily cleanups at his local parks since 2019. The climate science undergrad at San Jose State University has been cleaning up trash others have left behind near popular trails nearly every day for the past 1027 days and documenting the entire process in photos and videos posted daily to Twitter. "I really enjoy the weather and climate. I also really enjoy nature. I like coming out to the parks every day and seeing how everything changes to the seasons," McGregor told KABC.


"And it was through doing that that I realized, 'you know, there's some trash out here, and I don't know if anyone's actually cleaning this stuff up,' so it never really occurred to me that I was underestimating the amount of trash in this park," he added. "Originally, I had a Twitter account so that I could send pictures to the weather channel when I saw crazy weather, but I kept using it for fun, and I would tweet weather statistics, but things really took off when I started the daily trash pickup. Eventually when I got to around day five or 600, one of my tweets went viral when I, you know, hit kind of a milestone."


McGregor estimates he's removed more than 15,000 pounds of trash since he started what he's dubbed #EarthCleanUp. Speaking to NPR in March last year, the climate activist—who revealed that he is autistic—shared that he was inspired to launch the effort after learning Los Angeles would be hosting the 2028 summer games. Worried that its litter-cluttered national forest would become a "global embarrassment," McGregor took it upon himself to start cleaning.


"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," he said. "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 started the initiative with Eaton Canyon, the closest of the Angeles National Forest parks to where he lives, with the belief that cleaning the park would take 10 to 20 days. It took more than a year and a half.


"In May 2019 I decided to bring out one to two buckets per day and pick up trash," he said in one video he tweeted last year. "Whether it was 117 degrees or if it was raining ash and the mountains were on fire, or if it was pouring down rain, it didn't matter. I was out here for at least an hour, every single day, cleaning up my park." McGregor said he ventured out after working 12-hour warehouse shifts in all kinds of extreme weather—including during the state's record heatwave in September, after a January snowstorm and even while the other side of the park was "actively on fire." He has reportedly injured himself multiple times in the process.


"Some places were very dirty, but if I returned to them months later, they were still clean," McGregor said. "Other places would get dirty every single week, and I'd need to clean them up dozens of times per year. Throughout all of this, I learned where every single canyon, tree and bush was in my park." His parents couldn't be prouder of their son's commitment to the mission. "He's one small cog in the whole world. It's not for the attention. This is a life-long passion," said Melinda McGregor, his mother. "He will incorporate this into the rest of his life."


"In his example, not everybody is going to pick up trash, but if they're doing something for their city, their local community, their park," said his proud father, Edgar McGregor III. "I think that's really cool, and I've learned that I take that to heart." Meanwhile, McGregor is far from done. "There's always been a big debate in the climate movement about whether or not we need individual climate action or systematic climate change," he said. "Climate activism is systematic change and individual action. We need both of them in order to solve this problem."

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