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SLC siblings use Tik Tok to inspire trash cleanups

Posted at 9:59 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 00:06:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A pair of siblings in Rose Park is spreading inspiration and a positive message through their unusual videos on Tik Tok. The videos have taken off, with some getting tens of thousands of views.

It's not your average Tik Tok challenge.

Julio and Cristal Lopez record trash and drug needles they find in their community. You wouldn't expect fun songs like "Ice Ice Baby" or "I Ran (So Far Away)" to be paired with those images. But it's what Julio and Cristal are doing with that trash that makes the difference.

On Tuesday afternoon, the temperatures felt like spring. Kids ran around the playground at Cottonwood Park in Salt Lake City, the sun shining bright overhead.

Julio and Cristal come to Cottonwood Park at least once to twice a week. But Julio won't bring his young daughter with him.

"All the trash, all the needles, all this," he said of what he sees on the ground. "My daughter hasn't been to the park. Neither has my dog."

The 27-year-old and 13-year-old brother and sister have made it their mission to clean up all the garbage.

"I thought it was like, disgusting," Cristal said of what she finds. "Like, who would put random trash at the park? Kids play here."

The two started their routine cleanups about six months ago. Their weekly pickups morphed into another project when Julio created the social media accounts "Green SLC" on Tik Tok and Facebook.

With Cristal behind the camera, they began to document their cleanups and record the not-so-family-friendly things they found.

On Tuesday, Julio pointed out used needles next to the walking path, and he used a grabber to pick up a bra and women's underwear from the grass.

Cristal took footage that Julio will then edit into a Tik Tok, timed to music.

The dozens of videos on Green SLC's account show the pair's cleanups outside of Rose Park as well, spanning into Glendale and downtown SLC.

They're clearly spreading some inspiration as people from all over watch the selfless acts of community service.

Julio said others comment on the videos that they, too, want to clean up their neighborhoods. Others have told Julio he and Cristal need to come to their communities.

He's also seen some community members jump in with donations to help in the pair's efforts. The general manager at Sutherlands, Julio said, donated the garbage grabbers and buckets.

A woman who saw the Tik Tok videos on Facebook donated 50 biohazard sharps containers to help get needles disposed of safely.

Julio says he does this all for his daughter, so that she can come enjoy the park. But he and Cristal also do this with the hope that it'll inspire others to make their neighborhood a better place.

"I hope that this could be the spark that makes you want to change, that makes you want to be that difference," Julio said.

As Julio and Cristal stood with their buckets and grabbers on Tuesday, a woman with her son walked up to talk to them.

She clearly noticed the work the two have been doing, and expressed how grateful she was.

"I just wanted to thank you, that you guys are doing that. Because nobody else is. Nobody else is," she said.

"Exactly," Julio replied. "We're trying to get it, so people catch on."