Humans are a messy bunch. We can’t deny it; we see it every time we walk outside or drive down the highway. From careless litter to illegal dumping, we certainly have a lot to answer for. Where is our sense of pride in who we are and where we live, or even how we live? How did we convince ourselves that our trash is somebody else’s responsibility?
It’s a Huge Problem
The unintended consequences of our disposable lifestyle have become issues that threaten our ecology, our health, and even our lives. There is no single answer to this problem. It is a culmination of centuries of poor waste management, corporate irresponsibility, and overall lousy stewardship of this beautiful rock we all live on. In the end the cleanup duty falls back on all of us, the humans – the responsible parties.
Enter the Hashtag Challenge Known as #Trashtag
If you not yet heard of the #Trashtag Challenge, you may want to log in to your Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or any other social network on the planet, and check out this exponentially growing movement. A movement to start somewhere – to do something!
I personally found out about the trashtag movement while scrolling through Reddit. A young man, named Julian Juarez, had posted a story of his high school’s Community Service Club showing up to help clean the Wolf River Harbor area of Mud Island, in Memphis, TN. He sent me a link to local coverage of the event by WMCActionNews5.com: Hundreds of volunteers help clean Wolf River Harbor
As I dug a little deeper, I discovered that the trashtag movement appears to have started its life as the UCO #TrashTag Project after an accidental littering event involving UCO Gear Ambassador Steven Reinhold, according to a 2015 UCO press release.
Four years later on March 5th, 2019, the trashtag movement got a shot of adrenaline at the hands of Byron Román, a Phoenix, AZ mortgage loan officer, who shared a dramatic before & after photo on Facebook of an Algerian environmentalist’s cleanup efforts, with the message:
“Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens. Take a photo of an area that needs cleaning or maintenance, than take a photo after you have done something about it, and post it.”
Byran’s post has been shared over 333,000 times. Thanks to social media, the revived trashtag movement has inspired thousands of people from all over the world to take up the challenge by locating local areas in need of cleaning, and post images afterthey have done something about it.
I reached out to people on social media to ask them for photos of their #trashtag successes. Below are a few – including one we did.
A few drops in a very large bucket …
We can’t solve all our trash problems with a simple challenge but it is a step in the right direction. There are several small steps we can all take to help eliminate the tremendous amount of trash we make. My top five are:
- Don’t litter; always dispose of trash responsibly
- Use reusable grocery bags – most stores offer them cheap – or FREE – and many companies offer them as swag or freebies for visitors (after our trashtag challenge, I am convinced that plastic bags are a scourge on humanity)
- Use a home water filter and reusable water bottles (stop buying plastic bottles of water)
- Recycle – get an extra can for recyclable materials and see how much quicker it fills up than non-recyclable waste (ours is a 3 to 1 ratio – not kidding)
- Do your own trashtag challenge and keep this movement going
This isn’t just an environmental issue or a government problem, this is a people problem. Real people must come together to find real solutions. We must change how we look at trash, what we do with it, and learn how to stop producing so MUCH of it.
Trust me, once you do a trashtag challenge, you will look at garbage differently. You’ll think about it every time you buy something with disposable packaging. You may find yourself looking for recycle bins rather than shoving everything in the regular trash bins. You’ll want to do more.
Go ahead. Start where you are. Take small steps and do small clean ups, then grow. Ask friends and family to join you – I challenge you!