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B.C. man pledges to pick up a million bottles discarded along Canada’s roads

Click to play video: 'This Is BC: One man’s mission to clean up Canadian highways'
This Is BC: One man’s mission to clean up Canadian highways
WATCH: Andy Sward was on a cross-country walk to bring attention to recycling when he noticed trash along the roadways. That made him commit to picking up a million bottles, cans and cups along Canadian highways. On This is BC, Jay Durant catches up to him almost ten years into his mission – Sep 13, 2022

One more down and 840,000 to go.

What started as a bucket-list walk across Canada to raise awareness about recycling has turned into something so much more for B.C.’s Andy Sward.

“The litter on the side of the road bothered me right from day one leaving Tofino,” Sward told This is BC.

For nearly a decade Sward has spent practically all of his free time picking up other people’s trash.

“My last vacation was running up the Sea to Sky Highway between Whistler and Pemberton picking up garbage for 12 hours a day,” said Sward.

The Million Bottle Pledge has taken him across the country several times. His one-man cleanup crew has grown over the years. Without help, he’ll never reach his goal.

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“Coast to Coast I have friends in almost every city now who will come out and run 20 to 30 kilometres and help clean up around their city as well,” Sward said.

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He’s bagging as much litter as he can, pushing a baby buggy every step of the way on some grueling open roads.

“The Rocky Mountains you have some long, gradual climbs, but Ontario has some really steep up and down hills,” said Sward, who camps along the way. “I do sleep well considering I’m in a tent on the ground. I sleep like a baby”

His biggest fans are in Pemberton where he’s given a number of talks to elementary students.

“When they see me coming onto the schoolyard they start applauding and cheering. It’s pretty special,” said Sward.

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Always saving up for his next excursion, Sward is pulling double shifts in the catering business, raising funds for enough food and a lot of new footwear.

“I’m working two full-time jobs and two part-time jobs just to try and make as much money as I can,” he said.

He still has a tremendous amount of ground to cover on this mission.

“Sad to say the litter is always here even in the most beautiful part of the country,” said Sward.

Maybe he’ll finally get a well-deserved vacation when it’s all over.

“Maybe another 20 or 30 years. We’ll see if I can pick up the pace,” Sward said. “Maybe when I hit that million bottles, cans and cups cleaned up I’ll find a nice vacation cabin on a lake or in the mountains somewhere.”

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To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca

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