Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Most social media challenges are quickly followed by medical and law enforcement officials warning potential challenge takers of all the terrible consequences that come from being stupid enough to light yourself on fire, eat poisonous laundry pods or hide from all human contact for two days. For that reason, the #trashtag challenge is a true breath of fresh air. This latest online sensation calls for people to find an area littered with trash and clean it up. Participants take pictures of themselves picking up the trash or before and after images of the area and post them with the #trashtag hashtag.

The idea is believed to have initially been created by the outdoor gear company UCO Gear in 2015, but it has recently built up an unexpectedly large following in March 2019. The latest challenge kicked off after Byron Roman shared an image of himself in a badly littered area followed by a second image of the same location, now clean, with all the garbage stuffed in nine trash bags. The user, @thescientistfacts captioned the image, “Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens. Take a photo of an area that needs some cleaning or maintenance, then take a photo after you have done something about it, and post it. #trashtag”

The image went viral. People from all over the nation started sharing their photos of their Good Samaritan works.  Some people used the cleanup time as a break from driving by “picking up trash from the road side whenever [they] made a rest stop,” as one user did. Others took the challenge international and spent some time cleaning up trash when they were far from home such as one couple who posted about their day “standup paddle boarding and cleaning up trash in the ocean off Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand.”

Roman’s original post has been shared more than 332,000 times and earned over 100,000 likes on Facebook alone. It has also been shared tens of thousands of times on Instagram and Twitter. Most importantly, however, he has encouraged a slew of copycats across the globe who took to social media to show off their own trash collections and encourage others to do the same.

“When teens get bored, that’s like the worst thing you can ever have — actually, any person being bored,” Roman said. “So, I thought, maybe someone will pick up the challenge and do something positive about it.”

So far, people have risen to Roman’s challenge. Hopefully, they will continue to do so and help heal our beautiful blue planet one post at a time.

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