SAN JOSE, Calif. - In a sea of San Jose State fall 2023 graduates, one who received his parchment on Monday was preoccupied with thoughts of his true passion.
"I wake up every day thinking about when I’m going to do my clean-up. Because to me, it’s like brushing my teeth," Edgar McGregor shared.
Before donning his cap and gown for the afternoon ceremony to receive his Spartan climate science bachelor’s degree, McGregor was busy at his day job —cleaning up trash.
"Every single day gets me into the routine of cleaning up trash all the time. And that’s important for getting exercise, getting fresh air, meeting people in your local community," McGregor explained.
His commitment to this ongoing act of public service began in the spring of 2019. But its roots go back to his childhood, when the golden-hearted, weather-obsessed boy wanted to make a difference in the world.
"He’s my last child to graduate, and it’s a good feeling. It’s a really good feeling. I feel like I’ve done my job," said his mother, Melinda McGregor.
She said her son’s drive to save the planet from pollution led him to pick up trash before his graduation ceremony.
"Every kid needs to have something that they’re very interested in," she said. "This is just his thing. Everybody has their thing. And this one’s his."
Edgar McGregor's passion is spreading to others. Over the course of his 1,607-day streak of daily clean-ups, McGregor has leveraged social media, particularly Instagram, to inspire others to join the cause. His 44,000 followers have embraced the movement, contributing in their communities across northern and southern California.
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"If everyone just did this for five minutes a day, we would not have the trash crisis we have in our oceans, in our creeks, in our hiking trails, and along our highways," he explained.
As the next generation of leaders prepared to leave their alma mater, McGregor was already on his path to making the world a cleaner and better place.
"I sincerely wish people would join me. Because it’s the best part of my life," said McGregor, who plans to continue his daily trash clean-up routine for the foreseeable future.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv.