Ludovic Franceschet, the garbage collector-influencer who will carry the Olympic flame at the Paris Olympics: “The problem is not politics, it’s people”

Ludovic Franceschet, the garbage collector-influencer who will carry the Olympic flame at the Paris Olympics: “The problem is not politics, it’s people”
Ludovic Franceschet, the garbage collector-influencer who will carry the Olympic flame at the Paris Olympics: “The problem is not politics, it’s people”

“Today I am cleaning the sidewalks I slept on”, he blurted out straight away. “After the military, I was homeless for 10 years. It may seem strange to say but this period, even if it was difficult, was constructive for me. I met people who helped me get back on my feet and succeed. After the street, I was a caregiver and in 2017, I started working for the City of Paris. I live in Estampes, a town located south of Paris, in the Essonne department, but Paris is the city of my heart. A city where, unfortunately, people have taken my place on the street, but I am attentive to them and I try to keep the sidewalks clean.”

For Ludovic Franceschet, originally from Montélimar (Drôme), cleaning the streets has become his path. “I could have had dirty ideas and this job saved me. Today I feel useful.”

On TikTok after being insulted

With his colorful bob on his head, the municipal agent orders a long coffee from the waiter, Marius, who recognizes him immediately. “Thanks for all you’ve done”he blurted before leaving to find the coffees.

Marius often meets his client in the neighborhood, with his yellow vest from the City of Paris. He also follows him on social networks where Ludovic Franceschet has become a star.

This digital adventure began by chance, in 2019. “I was on the back of the truck at the time. I was a riper (responsible for collecting waste on public roads, Editor’s note). One day, in the 12th arrondissement, near the Gare de Lyon, the truck was blocked. Motorists started honking and insulting us because they couldn’t get through. I didn’t understand this violence. We ourselves were blocked. It was absurd. My colleague and I took photos and created a TikTok profile to share them. We wanted to show that we worked, that we weren’t lazy. And we got 345,000 views in two weeks. I didn’t really understand, but I gave it a go.”

The French authorities must anticipate various threats that could target the Olympics which are taking place in an international context under very high tension.

The garbage collector-influencer now has 372,000 subscribers on TikTok and 110,000 on Instagram. “I don’t sell anything and I don’t preach. No, I just want to raise awareness about the environment and good actions when it comes to waste.”

If Ludovic deplores the behavior of individuals, he does not approve of the #SaccageParis campaign. Appearing in 2021 on Twitter, this movement invites Internet users to post photos of a supposed deterioration of the capital. “For them, we live in a garbage dump, but that’s not the case. And then, we, the 5,000 garbage collectors in Paris, obviously feel targeted by this campaign. These people share photos of a full trash can to attack politics, Mayor Anne Hidalgo, but they don’t post them when the trash can is changed and the street is clean. The problem isn’t politics, it’s people. In Paris there are still 33,000 street bins, there is never one far from you. In fact, no matter who is at the head of the city, the result will be the same as long as we do not change mentalities.”

Even on leave, he picks up trash

So, Ludovic raises awareness as much as possible among the people he meets in the street, his subscribers or even the general public through reports for media around the world: from France, Germany, the United States, India, from Ghana… He has also just participated in an episode of the Canadian documentary series Garbage specieswhich will soon be broadcast on TV5 Monde.

Cleaned up at great expense, the mythical river will be used for competitions and ceremonies as well as transport.

The Parisian at heart even accumulates days off to carry out field actions to which associations and other citizens concerned about the environment are joined; operations that he shares on social networks. In particular, he collected 14,855 kilos of waste on nearly 1000 kilometers of road along the N7, between Paris and Marseille, with the help of other people who came to join him. This year, he also set up a tour of France’s regions, in collaboration with local stakeholders. “In March, I went to Franche-Comté. I went to Vezoul, Dôle, Belfort and Besançon. This summer, I will go to New Aquitaine for a week. I am also preparing a border tour of France. I will leave Dunkirk and travel along Belgium in particular.”

During the weekends, Ludovic still practices magnet fishing in the Seine. In particular, he brings bikes and scooters to the surface.

A dedication soon rewarded. The garbage collector-influencer was in fact invited to carry the Olympic flame in Paris, as “committed to the planet”. “It will be July 15, the day after the national holiday. It’s an incredible opportunity to do this in my hometown. I’m going to savor this moment.”

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