British Columbia

'Knight in Vancouver' called hero for picking up garbage while city sleeps

When the rest of the city is asleep, Cliff Relph is awake and picking up everyone else's garbage.

'It feels really good to be giving back to Vancouver,' says Cliff Relph

Cliff Relph has been collecting trash along Knight Street for the past month and quietly documenting his collections on a blog called Knight in Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

When the rest of the city is asleep, Cliff Relph is awake and picking up everyone else's garbage. 

Armed with two garbage bags and gloves, he has got down on his hands and knees to pick up discarded cigarette butts, milk cartons, coffee mugs, shoes, food wrappers and newspapers. 

But Relph doesn't work as a garbage picker and certainly isn't paid for it. In fact, he works in IT and has a regular job. 

"When we have a place so wonderful as Vancouver ... we have some amount of duty to take care of it," he said. 

That's why Relph says he's collecting trash along Knight Street for the past month and quietly documenting his collections on a blog called Knight in Vancouver

Relph's actions have made him a hero in the eyes of some users on Vancouver's Reddit community.

"Thank you for taking the time to make Vancouver a better place, one piece of trash at a time," said one user. 

"It's people like you that keep the spirit of community alive, thank you for your hard work, you're a hero," said another. 

Relph says he was inspired by his grandmother who had devoted a lot of her time to volunteering. 

"One day I was walking back from the store and saw so much garbage and thought someone should really pick this up," he said. "And then I realized, oh, this is something I can do." 

He says it's not his intention to shame those who toss out their trash on the streets and admits he's been guilty of that himself on occasion. But he wouldn't mind it if a few volunteers decided to help him and it seems like his message is resonating.

"I must admit I don't take the time to pay attention to trash on my day to day and I wouldn't have thought to pick most of these things up," said the Reddit user.

"I myself refuse to litter though and although I'm doing my part by not littering myself, this is a gentle reminder that maybe it's worth picking up a little trash here and there if I see it while I'm waiting for a bus."

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