It’s not often, unfortunately, that someone does voluntary goodwill straight from their heart, with seemingly nothing in it for themselves. Franco Perez, however, is one in a million. Every day after school you can see him picking up all the litter he finds along his way home, a praiseworthy and rare feat and something most of us only do once a year, if at all.
“I just don’t like it when people leave trash on school property,” Perez said.
Perez first started to pick up trash around the school at the beginning of his junior year.
“After the first week of school was over I saw there was a huge amount of trash, and I just thought ‘who’s going to do it,’” Perez said. “At first I left it there and asked the principal to see if the community service could clean it up for themselves, and when I was leaving, it was better, but they haven’t checked the small pieces.”
If no one else was going to do it, Perez decided that he would, picking up litter not only around school, but wherever he sees the streets trashed.
“When I walk home after school through the neighborhood , I see some stuff all over the place, whether it’s on the street or on trees,” Perez said.
Appallingly, an abundance of all kinds of trash is scattered around Centennial.
“Sometimes I see like a huge, empty plastic bag,” Perez said. “I pick it up and then I see some empty plastic water bottles, tin cans, trash, sometimes food or cigarettes that have already been burned, which, by the way, I didn’t do any of those.”
According to litteritcostsyou.org, 75 percent of people admitted that they littered in the past five years, and young people litter the most. Perez is trying to encourage our students to be better than that.
“If you brought something to eat or drink, don’t throw it out in the street, bring it with you and throw it in the trash or the recycle,” Perez said. “And if you’re walking back home, support the school and pick up the trash.”
However, very few of us notice or care, and some even contribute to the littering, making Perez’s job harder while simultaneously disrespecting the school.
“You can’t just leave the trash like that,” Perez said. “That’s violation to the school property.”
For Earth Day, however, Perez has few plans outside of his usual. After all, he treats every day like it is Earth Day.
“I was just planning to go back to the school and do some cleaning again,” Perez said. “Maybe just search the whole baseball arena or outside of it and pick up whatever’s left of the trash so that way it’ll be easy.”
Nevertheless, despite the still remaining multitude of trash, Perez feels his actions are making a difference, by both helping the environment and motivating others to do the same.
“Once I do it it’ll get people, other kids in the school to pick up trash cause sometimes I can’t just do it on my own,” Perez said.
Perez worries, however, who will take his place as the school’s environmental right hand once he graduates. So this Earth Day, Titans, let’s make a commitment. Let’s be more like Perez. Because nothing except a healthy future and world is what is in it for us.
“I just wanna try and make the school clean,” Perez said. “Even if I’m not in the school anymore, someone’s got to do it.”