Meet Ludovic: Paris’s ‘green’ garbage man turned TikTok star
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France has a new social media sensation: Meet Ludovic, a Parisian garbage collector with a ‘green’ conscience whose lighthearted and educational videos on how to be more environmentally responsible are racking up tens of thousands of views on TikTok and Instagram.
Since May 2019, Ludovic Franceschet has been publishing up to three videos a day in which he raises awareness of increased waste due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how to properly dispose of trash, while also recounting his daily life as a street cleaner in the French capital. His videos, which are at once humorous, friendly, and educational, have earned him nearly 60,000 subscribers on TikTok, his platform of choice for reaching his target audience of "15 to 36-year-olds".
Ludovic, who four years ago used to work as a nurse's aide, says he switched jobs because as a garbage collector he wanted to be on the frontlines of the fight to save the environment. "The Earth is our home and we're corrupting it," he says.
In a TikTok video posted March 3, 2021, Ludovic Franceschet replies to a comment asking him why he chose his profession. "Because I want my existence to be useful to human beings and to the planet."
"Garbage collectors are like doctors for the streets!"
In May 2019, when I discovered TikTok, I thought I could make a video about my work. It did well - it currently has 345,000 views - and I gained around 100 subscribers. I thought, 'maybe I can attract the interest of even more people'. From August 2020, I discovered live videos, which increased the popularity of my account even more.
My goal is to show the reality of my profession, to impart the right values, and to make people aware of the proper actions when disposing of waste.
Covid-19 has caused an exceptional surge in waste, which means that we have twice the workload as before. Since restaurants are closed, people get their food to-go and eat in the streets. They throw their waste in the first bin they find, and if it's full, some people place their trash next to it, although sometimes you just have to go to the next bin that isn't full.
In a TikTok video posted February 16, 2021, Ludovic Franceschet shows garbage bins before and after the intervention of garbage collectors.
In a TikTok video posted January 31, 2021, Ludovic Franceschet shows a series of overflowing garbage bins before and after his intervention.
It's uncivil behaviour. The bins in the parks are also overflowing. Another example is masks: I pick them up from the ground everyday, people place them besides them and forget, or the masks fall out of their pockets. It's dangerous for us, but it's also dangerous for other people, for instance if a child touches it. The mask could be infected with Covid-19 or a whole bunch of other diseases.
In a TikTok video posted January 13, 2021, Ludovic Franceschet throws pieces of trash including masks and McDonalds take-out bags into garbage bins.
The problem with all this waste lying around is that as soon as there is a bit of wind, it'll be blown away. We find waste in the trees, on the side of the road, and we can't always remove it all. But the work of garbage collectors is all the more important. In short, we're a bit like doctors for the streets!
Other actions I want to denounce are when people spit their chewing gum on the ground or throw their cigarette butts on the street. People think "it's OK, a garbage collector will pick it up". But that's not how it works.
Besides this, I also want to show the difficulties of our work. For example, I made a video to show how to pick up a syringe. There is a protocol, you use a pair of pliers, you put the syringe in a box. When I see a syringe, I'm happy because I'm going to put it in a safe place and a child won't come across it.
My goal is to gain as many subscribers as possible. I'm aiming for 100,000, and afterwards, one million! I make two or three videos a day. It's a real job, and friends help me manage the different formats required between TikTok, Instagram, Twitter...
A TikTok video posted February 2, 2021 shows Ludovic Franceschet cleaning up a street corner covered in trash.
I would like to do more projects with schools: I'll soon be doing a clean-up day with high school students in the Fontainebleau forest [south-east of Paris] and I will be speaking at the end of April in a secondary school to raise awareness about trash disposal.
A TikTok video posted March 4, 2021 shows Ludovic Franceschet asking a little girl why she's throwing trash away. She replies: "to remove waste", and he thanks her. The caption reads: "The best example: awareness."
Ludovic Franceschet has even caught the attention of the French government, who highlighted his commitment in a video.
On Twitter, another account, @EboueursdeParis, recounts the daily life of Parisian garbage collectors and emphasises the value of their work, but in a more critical tone. The account condemns the "crack plan" put in place by the Paris City Council targeting users of this highly addictive drug, mainly located in the Stalingrad neighbourhood.