Regardless of where in the world you live, chances are, litter is a huge problem. More than 9 billion tons of litter ends up in the ocean every year, and the garbage that ends up outside of the landfill often interferes with the natural ecosystem and wildlife.
People are now encouraging others to fight back against litter with the #TrashTag challenge — the latest viral “challenge,” only this one is doing good for the planet by motivating other people to grab supplies (like gloves and a garbage bag) and pick up the litter in their community.
The hashtag — and the action that goes along with it — has been around since at least 2015, when UCO, a Canadian brand of outdoor essentials, announced the challenge and their goal of picking up 10,000 pieces of trash in the year that followed the challenge’s introduction. According to a press release published at that time, the challenge was conceived by UCO’s People Ambassador Steven Reinhold after he accidentally let a receipt fly out the window and he was feeling particularly guilty. Prompted by his accident, he committed to picking up 100 pieces of trash to make up for his accidental littering, and was hopeful that he could get others to do the same.
The trend seems to have had a resurgence, thanks to enthusiastic Redditors who have been sharing the results of their own cleanup projects, using the hashtag #TrashTag. The movement first surged in popularity thanks to a post on /r/wholesomemes; people then posted their own stories of cleaning up the planet to /r/pics, which lead to the birth of a new subreddit to share trash cleanups, /r/trashtag, and renewed attention on another, /r/detrashed.
As a result of the incredible response the movement has received, people are sharing impressive before-and-after shots of the areas in their community that they chose to clean up.
As many people pointed out, this new trend is in line with doing a “Teddy,” a movement inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Do what you have, with what you have, where you are.” The movement — created by The Theodores, a grassroots organization — simply encourages people to do exactly what the famous quote preaches by having them clean up the litter in their area (aka “doing a Teddy”) and tracking their contribution on their website.
According to their website, people “doing Teddys” in 19 different countries have picked up more than 12,827 lbs of trash to date.
All these actions truly go to show what a difference can be made if we all just do our part.