Fernwood litter collector hits milestone with 13 garbage cans’ worth of trash
For the past 134 days, David Boudinot has left his house every morning as the sun rises to pick up trash in his Fernwood neighborhood.
It started as a pandemic project when he was working from home, then it became an obsession and now it’s a staple of his life.
The University of Victoria librarian and father of two finished on Monday what he started last December – cleaning up every street in Fernwood. That meant picking up every cigarette butt, piece of styrofoam, needle, bandage, fast-food wrap, paper cup, and plastic lid for dozens of blocks from Yates and Shelbourne Streets to Cook Street.
Boudinot’s five-month total of trash was alarming – 1,575 liters of trash, or the equivalent of 13 standard CRD trash cans. This is a little mountain with most of the pieces no bigger than your thumb and all of them collected with a small bucket and pliers.
“There are mixed feelings,” said Boudinot on Monday. “They always hope that it stays that way after cleaning up. But when you retrace your steps there are more bums, more cups, more dog bags. “
He takes comfort in the fact that he has inspired others in his neighborhood and in other parts of the city to do the same.
Boudinot’s daily Twitter posts document his pickups and his followers have grown to nearly 600. He detailed his neighborhood grid pattern and the amount of trash he collected in each area.
Many congratulated on his milestone on Monday and posted a video of Kool and the gang’s song Celebration.
“Well done,” added Janice Williams. “Thanks for making our city a little cleaner.”
Boudinot said there are now some regular pickers in Saanich and Fairfield areas.
He has also become a celebrity in his neighborhood after reporting extensively on print and online, television and radio. He receives many warm greetings from dog walkers, neighbors, and businesses – even police officers patrolling the area.
“One day a taxi driver crept up to me very slowly and said, ‘Hey, are you the guy on TV? I will be retiring soon and looking for something to do. I think i will do that. ‘”
Boudinot said he will continue to collect trash in Fernwood and also move to the North Park neighborhood to the east. He also keeps an eye on the Oakland, Harris Green, and Rockland neighborhoods, and urges others to pick up a bucket and move trash.
“What surprised me the most is how it deepens your sense of community. When you do one simple thing, you can inspire others. You’re not just complaining about the problem, you’re actually doing something about it – even if it’s small. “
Boudinot reunited people with lost items – including family photos and a computer. He also found knives, razors and a flare gun and handed them over to the police.
Lately there has been an endless supply of discarded face masks plucked from roadside gutters and hedges, used bandages in playgrounds, nails and screws on the streets, as well as Q-tips, AA batteries, plastic bread clips, and pull tabs made from plastic jugs and boudinots Pet Troubles – Plastic Floss Pickers. Many are put in recycling bins and either not accepted or lost on unloading and left in gutters.
For larger items that are thrown on the street, such as mattresses and couches, Boudinot calls city staff for collection.
Boudinot recycles and dumps its collected rubbish in urban bins at bus stops and parks, which are emptied several times a week.
“I see it as if it’s 1,500 liters of bum and trash that doesn’t wash our drains and end up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then on our beaches,” said Boudinot.
David Maxwell, president of the Fernwood Community Association, does not know Boudinot but was aware of his daily choices.
“It’s a great example of someone who cares about their neighborhood and the environment,” said Maxwell.
He said people are sometimes divided over issues in the neighborhood, pointing to Fernwood’s brightly painted power poles and roadside gardens. “Some people like it and some don’t,” said Maxwell. “What [Boudinot] doing is not a flashy thing … it is very selfless and a beautiful thing to see.
“Anything that requires civic engagement is positive.”
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