The #TrashTag Challenge That Is Making The World A Better Place One Post At A Time

In 2018, National Geographic launched a project called ‘Planet or Plastic?’, a multiyear campaign that aimed to spread awareness among readers about the dangers of single-use plastic. In June of the same year, the organization stopped wrapping their magazines in plastic covers in an effort to minimize the use of these plastics.  

This is just one response to a crisis that is taking over the entire world. Our dependence on plastics has led to tonnes of non-recyclable trash piling up across landfills and in our oceans and most of it will take centuries to degrade. In July of 2018, Montesinos Beach in the Dominican Republic saw a scene which looked like it belonged to a post-apocalyptic world. Wave upon wave deposited tonnes of trash on the usually clean sand of the beach. In three days time, hundreds of workers and volunteers had managed to remove thirty tonnes of trash from the beach. A storm had brought the garbage there from the Ozama River where thousands of tonnes of trash were being dumped every year. This isn’t the only plastic crisis that has taken place in the recent past.

However, we still have hope as there are many people around the world coming together to do their part. For example, on 15th September 2018, World Cleanup Day was started under the international campaign called ‘Let’s Do It! World.’ Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from across 150 countries worked to clean up various sites in their localities. A similar movement has started in 2019, all thanks to social media.

Ever since the advent and subsequent popularity of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the concept of an idea going viral has become fairly normal. Many challenges have come and gone under this umbrella since then and they have all done their part to spread awareness about something important. Not too long ago, we saw the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral and raising millions of dollars to help those suffering from ALS. One such challenge dedicated towards the environment, began in 2019 and it has come to be called the #Trashtag challenge.

In 2015, UCO Gear along with Steven Reinhold came up with the #Trashtag challenge and in 2019, the challenge has made a comeback. All this was possible, thanks to the efforts of Byron Roman, a loan officer in Phoenix. He shared a photo posted by an Algerian man which showed a dirty location ‘before’ and ‘after’ it had been cleaned up by him. All the garbage had been neatly tied up in trash bags. In the caption, Roman wrote, “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. Here are the people doing it #BasuraChallenge #Trashtag Challenge, join the cause #BasuraChallengeAZ.”

With a stroke of luck, Roman’s post gained immense popularity and by the end of the week, he had racked up hundreds of thousands of shares. People from all over the world rose to the challenge and photos started pouring in from Vietnam, Nepal, India, Mexico, and many other countries. From children to senior citizens, everyone wanted to be a part of the movement that Roman had revived albeit unknowingly. In fact, Instagram now has more than 25000 pictures posted of people cleaning up their localities and the number is only rising.

According to Roman, he hadn’t put up the post intending to clean up all of Earth. He just wanted to give others enough encouragement so that they would take the necessary first step, but things worked out much better than he had imagined. Roman believes that everybody has what it takes to be a superhero and he has faith that people will continue to work on this issue even after the initial excitement of the challenge has died out. The least all of us can do is clear away the trash we see as we’re simply going about our day to day lives.

We need to acknowledge how much, we as individuals, contribute to the problem of excessive trash. Internationally, one person produces only a little less than a kilo of trash per day on average. This number increases especially in countries with higher incomes and better standards of living. For example, only about five percent of the people on this planet live in America, but they create about forty percent of the total amount of trash across the world. While the most effective solution would be to completely do away with single-use plastics, a lack of sustainable alternative has made this difficult for many. However, countries and cities around the world have begun this initiative and quite a few places have banned single-use plastics outrightly. In the meantime, we all need to make the effort to clean up our trash and look for ways to make it stop from piling up.

The best part of #Trashtag is that you don’t have to do anything particularly special to get involved in the challenge. Even a small step like clearing a sidewalk in front of your house contributes to the larger picture. So get out there and do it because the Earth needs all of us to pitch in if we wish to be able to live here safely.  

https://brightvibes.com/1187/en/trashtag-the-cool-new-viral-challenge-to-clean-up-the-environment?fbclid=IwAR2Xz6kMxfSV1RkS4ew1PuCF2KpZy3FwtFyx3I5ycYHQTtK34LIJMXjAukM