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Trash Tag Challenge Accomplishing Something Positive

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Finally, a Viral Challenge That Is Accomplishing Something Positive

Over the last few years, a number of viral challenges have taken the Internet by storm. While some of these challenges have been dumb but harmless — such as the Cheese Challenge, where people toss pieces of cheese toward animals and babies — others have been dangerous. This includes the Bird Box Challenge based on the popular Sandra Bullock film, in which people attempted to do things blindfolded such as drive a car, and the Tide Pod Challenge, in which teens dared each other to eat detergent pods.

But a new challenge has gone viral, and this one could actually improve the lives of everyone. It is called the #Trashtag Challenge, and it challenges people to clean up badly littered areas near them. Participants are encouraged to first find a heavily littered place and then clean it up. They are also encouraged to post before and after pictures on social media.

Many people across the world have been doing just this, cleaning roads, parks and beaches. They have also helped raise awareness of the problem of litter.

How The Challenge Started

The challenge itself is not actually new. In 2015, an outdoors company called UCO Gear initiated the challenge as a way of collecting 10,000 pieces of wilderness trash by 2016. The idea came about when Steven Reinhold, who is the People Ambassador for UCO, accidentally allowed a paper receipt fly out his window. Feeling guilty about it, he challenged himself to pick up 100 pieces of garbage as retribution. He then decided to challenge others as well.

But the concept did not really take off until last week when a man named Byron Román made a post on Facebook, in which he called on bored teenagers to take photographs of areas that need cleaning and then clean it.

Since then, in excess of 25,000 posts just on Instagram have appeared with the hashtag as well as variations of it, such as #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge. Some have even translated the tag to other languages. For example, in Spanish it is called the #BasuraChallenge. People have been posting about it on other social media platforms as well, including Twitter and Reddit.

Many of these posts are from far off. A group in Novosibirsk — deep in the heart of Siberia — posted about how they had collected nearly 225 bags full of litter. They further noted that three-quarters of the garbage would be recycled. Not to be outdone, 40 teenagers in Norway spent an entire week collecting trash from a beach, gathering an incredible 12,400 kilograms (27,335 pounds) of garbage. While closer to home in Asheville, North Carolina, 500 people volunteered their time to collect an impressive 8,000 pounds of trash from nearby parks and rivers.

How the Challenge Could Have a Lasting Impact

While most things viral, including viral challenges, typically have short lifespans due to people generally having short attention spans, this viral challenge could be the exception to the rule.

Mark Butler, who is the policy director of a Canada-based environmental charity called the Ecology Action Centre, voiced hope that the challenge could lead to long-lasting changes that would eliminate single-use plastic containers. He further said that, without making fundamental changes to the way we use plastic, there will just be an endless cycle of waste and cleanups.

At the very least, this challenge should not be sending anyone to the hospital (or morgue), and there is no limit to the positive impact it could have on the world.

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