The #Trashtag Challenge Actually Encourages People to Do Something Positive

Instead of doing something that’s definitely unhealthy, like eating Tide pods, or something that’s downright unsafe, like wearing a blindfold as you’re driving or jumping out of your moving vehicle and dancing alongside it, a new social media challenge is going viral—and it’s inspiring people to do really good things.

It’s called the #Trashtag Challenge, and it’s a simple three-step process:

  1. Take a “before” picture of any area, such as a beach, park or street, that’s filled with litter.
  2. Clean up the mess.
  3. Snap an “after” picture showing off your accomplishment and post your photos using the #Trashtag hashtag.

The #Trashtag hashtag has been around for a while. According to Mashable, the challenge idea may have originated in October 2015 when the outdoor gear company UCO launched the #Trashtag Project. The goal was for people to pick up 10,000 pieces of trash in the wilderness by the following October.

“This project aligns with the company’s efforts to get people connecting outdoors while respecting our planet,” UCO said in a press release at the time. “Through the UCO #TrashTag Project, UCO is looking forward to supporting individuals that inspire responsible conservation acts as a way towards building strong communities and creative environmental actions.”

About three and a half years later, the #Trashtag Challenge is really taking off. It started earlier this month when Facebook user Byron Roman offered “a new #challenge for all you bored teens” that has been shared over 330,000 times. Someone then posted his challenge on Reddit, helping to increase its popularity even more.

“Finally, an internet trend that is doing good that I can get behind,” Tessa Shabram of Portland, Ore., told KGW. She and her boyfriend spent an hour cleaning up trash under a bridge.

“Especially down here and downtown when it rains, all that storm water runs into the river and any trash on the ground will go with it,” she said. “Every little thing counts and helps, and I hope this inspires people to clean up their community where they live and also not litter.”

Shabram brings up an important point: Trash on land often ends up in rivers and oceans. During an unusually rainy winter in California, Seal Beach looked more like a “landfill blanketed with trash,” the Orange County Register reported. Although this happened prior to the #Trashtag Challenge, fortunately some good Samaritans volunteered their time to help clean up the mess.

People around the world are now volunteering their time to participate in the #Trashtag Challenge. In Junagadh, India, a group cleaned up plastic and other litter, filling 10 trash bags.

In Saint Petersburg, Russia, Instagram user @horses_spb posted before and after photos of their clean-up effort—from a horse’s point of view.

View this post on Instagram

Присоединяемся к челленджу #trashtag , фото с уборки 9.09.18 года. Фоток с конкретного места «до и после» почти нет, но мы это исправим. Перед летом пойдём вешать таблички с призывом «не мусорить», а также убирать то, что люди накидали за зиму. ⠀ Публикование фото-результатов в социальные сети может очень мотивировать многих людей к уборке мусора на природе. Отличный челлендж! ⠀ Join the challenge #trashtag, photo from the cleaning 09/09/18. There are no pictures from one particular place “before and after”, but we will change this, when the snow melts. ⠀ Publishing photos of the results in social networks can motivate many people to scavenge in nature. Great Challenge!

A post shared by Конный Петербург (@horses_spb) on

A young man in Nepal did his part by filling up 10 trash bags.

Here’s hoping the #Trashtag Challenge isn’t just a fad, and picking up litter (and not creating it in the first place) becomes a habit for participants that is much more beneficial than, say, eating laundry detergent pods.

Of course, not all other social media challenges are unhealthy or dangerous. For one famous example, the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 raised $115 million for the ALS Association. If the #Trashtag Challenge encourages bored teens—and everybody else—around the world to make it a cleaner place, the impact will be priceless.

Photo credit: @RMcNeil2105/Twitter


Sophie A
Sarah A25 days ago

That's very good

Celine R
Celine Russo26 days ago

Clever challenge... especially with all the youngsters that are showing up against Climate Change around the world.

Michael F

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Jeanne M
Jeanne M29 days ago

What a great challenge!

Sabrina Degasperi
Sabrina D29 days ago

Very well done!

Virgene L
Virgene Labout a month ago

Wonderful projects! Thank you all for your efforts. You are making our world a better place and we appreciate it. You are also setting a good example. Kudos!

David C
David Cabout a month ago

thanks, great clean up.....

Pam Bruce
Pam Babout a month ago

Thanks. We do a lot of this here in Interior Alaska in Fairbanks. It really makes a difference. Thanks.

Nicolas Nasrallah
Nicolas Nasrallahabout a month ago

This is our garbagge we are all resposible for it, the ones the litter should be made accountable.

Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

Its our beautiful earth