Internet trends come and go, while some are welcome and productive others can be unwanted or down right offensive. One relatively new trend that has been gaining international attention is the #trashtag challenge. For those who haven’t been made aware of the trend, volunteers are collecting garbage from outdoor locations and posting before and after photos online of the area. Although it has been dubbed a “challenge” volunteers are not doing this in hopes of winning a prize, the prize is the satisfaction earned from making the earth a better place to live for everyone.
Although it has only recently gained a large international following, the hashtag was first used by Steven Reinhold, an environmentalist and activist, back in 2015 in an attempt to inspire other outdoor enthusiasts to join their effort in picking up any trash they see while out in the wilderness. The movement had an ambitious goal of collecting 10,000 pieces of garbage in its first year of existence. The hashtag was moderately successful in the coming years, primarily being used among American nature and outdoor groups.
It wasn’t until early March of 2019, where Facebook user Bryon Román posted a challenge to “bored teens” to collect trash in littered areas then post a photo to inspire others. Shortly after, similar posts were appearing across all social media platforms from around the world with bigger and bigger groups cleaning up larger and larger messes. It should be mentioned that the activity of “detrashing” an area is nothing new, and people have been doing this for a long time with little to no recognition. But if some internet points is all it takes to inspire those who would not have gone out and participated to pick up trash, I say why not? Everyone wins.
Now if you are reading this and asking yourself “how can I get involved?”, I’ve got some great news for you, it’s easy! All you need are some trash bags, means to collect garbage (thick gloves or grabbing tool), and a good attitude! Photo evidence is entirely optional, the end result is the same regardless. Whether you pick up a few pieces of trash on your morning walks or organize a group to tackle a whole area, you are still contributing towards a cleaner Earth, a healthier habitat, and a more sustainable future!