NEWS

Million Bottle Pledge has man on $1-M mission walking across Canada

05/13/2015 11:55 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT
One man's journey to raise awareness for the environment is taking him across Canada one step — and bottle — at a time.

Andy Sward is originally from Vancouver. He, along with a double-wide baby jogger with hockey-stick handles, is making a second cross-Canada trek.

In 2014, Sward journeyed from Vancouver Island, B.C., to St. John's, N.L. — on foot — picking up 30,000 cans and bottles from the side of the road. On April 12 of this year, he left St. John's to make that same trip — once again, on foot — with his eye on British Columbia.

After years of working in the restaurant business, Sward says he wanted to do something about the large quantities of trash he was seeing on a daily basis.

"I wish I could clean it all up, but I just try and make a dent in it," Sward said while talking with Maritime Noon's Norma Lee MacLeod.

Two years ago, he ran across the country on what he calls the "Million Bottle Pledge." The plan for the next 25 to 30 years, he says, will be to spend his summers collecting a million dollars's worth of cans and bottles.  

He says he got the idea from a Facebook group called "Trash Walking Moms."

"I'll try to pick up as many bottles and cans as I can throughout the course of the day, and take them to the next town for recycling or donation to a local school program."

Sward spoke with CBC while in Antigonish. 

"I met so many great people the first time across the country, that I do have friends — and I even consider them extended family — in every province."

Sward keeps all his belongings — food, water, sleeping bag, and tent — in a two-person baby jogger. Two hockey sticks extend from the handles from which he hangs bags for the trash he collects.  

Along the way, Sward says it can be disheartening to see how much trash travellers toss out their car windows along the Trans-Canada Highway.  

"Anything and everything, including the kitchen sink, is really out there on the side of the highway," he said.

Sward explains any sadness he feels about the trash is balanced out by the people he talks to along the way. He says they're interested in what he's doing, and hopes they'll improve how they recycle.  

"If the facilities are there and people are educated about using them, then they'll eventually do the right thing."

Of all the things he's seen or heard in his travels, he says he was most surprised at the irony of seeing a van, branded with the logo of a popular house cleaning company, pull up to a stop sign. He then watched as the driver tossed his trash out the window.  

"That was pretty ironic, actually," he said.

Sward says he works hard through the winter, saves his money by "living modestly," and then volunteers to clean up trash in the summer.

You can keep track of his progress on his way back to Vancouver through the Million Dollar Pledge Facebook page.

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