With a tear in his eye, 69-year-old Erik Berntsen tidies up some garbage that has spilled from one of dozens of bags he has sitting in his driveway off Cooper Road - bags of garbage he spent over 100 hours picking up along Redrooffs Road this past March.
"I see people litter all the time and I don't know why they do it. Maybe because they think I'll be there to pick it up, but we all helped make this mess. We all have to help clean it up," Berntsen says arranging his bags of garbage for a photo.
He's no stranger to media attention. Berntsen (literally) created quite a stink in Nanaimo when he piled over 50 bags of garbage on the doorstep of city council to make his point.
"I wanted them to see the problem. I wanted everyone to see it and stop it," he said, again fighting back tears.
That stunt earned him a slap on the wrist and a name in the local paper - Guerrilla Garbageman.
"I kind of like that name. That's how people know me," he said.
Later he would repeat the garbage pile stunt at city hall and earn himself a $100 fine and be forced to pay the $188.22 the city doled out to take the pile to the dump.
But he says it was worth it if people became aware of the mess they made in the city's downtown core.
Later he would try to organize a press meeting where much of the garbage collected in Nanaimo would be spilled out for the cameras, but the City of Nanaimo wasn't pleased with that idea and it never came to fruition.
"I just wanted to be granted that little favour, to be able to show the real garbage to the cameras, not all tidied up in bags where it looks neat," said Berntsen.
Although Berntsen had some public supporters for his work in Nanaimo, he was largely ignored by the general public, the people he says he wanted to target most.
Berntsen decided to move from Nanaimo to Halfmoon Bay about two years ago to be near his brother, known by many in the community as "Rooster Man."
"My brother is the rooster man. You know the guy who whittles those little roosters all the time and gives them to everyone," said Berntsen.
Coming from a family of 17 kids, Berntsen says it was important to "have your own thing that makes you different."
But Berntsen didn't know he had a passion for cleaning the planet until he found himself unemployed and collecting welfare at the age of 55.
"I figured, which was more important, pride or money - and I'd say money is. So I took the cheque from the welfare office. But I had never not worked so I thought, 'hey, I'll clean up the garbage around this place.' Then when I came back in for another cheque they asked me if I had been looking for work and I said, 'hey, I am working, I'm picking up garbage'," said Berntsen.
Since that day he has continued doing seasonal garbage clean-ups in his various communities, but not in a meek, servile way.
"I'm mad about [littering] and I want everyone else to be mad about it too," he said.
He's known for posting signs like "Did you litter today? If so, you made me angry," and "What goes around comes around."
He hopes his recent work to clean up Redrooffs Road, which took about 135 hours, won't go unnoticed or unappreciated by the pubic.
"But mainly I just want them to stop. Stop littering. Why do they do it? I'm just sick about it," he said.
He plans to approach the District of Sechelt to ask for the favour he was never granted in Nanaimo.
"I want to be given special permission to go up to the dump and make a big pile of all this garbage I've collected. Just pour it out there for everyone to see. And I want a camera crew to come up too so there is attention on this," said Berntsen.
He plans to continue his efforts to clean up garbage in Halfmoon Bay and he asks others to be considerate if they see him fishing in the ditches for garbage.
"People say mean things. They want to fight you sometimes and I'm like, 'hey I'm doing a good thing here,' but they don't understand sometimes. I just want it to be clean and feel good," he added.