Running Across Canada – ‘Million Bottle Pledge’
From left, Shane Mascarin who joined Andrew Sward during his cross Canada run on May 27. Photo Linda Hilkewich.
On his journey running across Canada and collecting bottles and garbage, Andrew Sward, travelled past Vermilion on May 27. This being his third trip across the country, he originally had a plan to leave a minimal carbon footprint in 2013. He then travelled with a solar panel, using no hotel stays and no support vehicle. After a couple of days on the road, he began picking up tin cans to reduce, reuse, and recycle as many as he could carry. Now he donates bottles and cans to organizations in towns across the country. He asks about bottle drives in each town and in between stops at rest stops and puts them in the blue bins. Collecting 31,000 bottles west to east, it took two years to get across the first time, as he stopped to work in Ontario for the winter. In 2015, he began a return trip to clean the other side of the highway gathering 36,000 bottles. He began to think maybe he could clean a million bottles over the next 30 years. This year, he began his journey in Vancouver, British Columbia in late April and plans to reach Newfoundland by the end of September. So far he has travelled 1500 - 1600 kilometers. He mentioned that he felt tougher on his first trip and will now treat himself to a hotel stay every couple of weeks as he is pushing 48 years old. He is very grateful to have friends in each province and said, “Across the country there is a great running community.” Sward now also disposes of other beverage cups (paper coffee/pop cups). Last time he cleaned along the Trans Canada Highway, and this time is travelling along Highway 16, and other routes in Ontario and the Maritimes. “I grew up in Ontario often looking out the car window and think it is a shame that now people look out their windows and have garbage in the way of their view. In the future, I will consider spending shorter trips each year in one dedicated province. Hopefully, future drivers will think twice. It is a big change for me after working for the winter. This is my happy place. I have developed a big love of Canada; it’s a beautiful way to see the country and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people along the way. I am excited for the upcoming towns,” said Sward. He encourages people cleaning their towns, parks, and roads and noted how much cleaner the highways in Alberta were due to recent 4-H cleanups. Having been in Innisfree the day before, he dropped off bottles in Mannville. In Vermilion he was joined by Shane Mascarin from Wainwright for a few kilometers of his journey. The company brought him laughter, and in Lloydminster, he met more people who gifted him a much-needed pair of shoes and a hat. To follow Sward’s journey across the country, you can search ‘Million Bottle Pledge’ on Facebook or Instagram.