There’s a new hashtag circling the internet, and it’s causing people to clean up the planet.
It’s called the #trashtag challenge, and the idea is simple: post pictures to social media of before and after shots of somewhere messy. And by messy, we mean completely covered in garbage to the point where it’s hard to even imagine the outdoors as a place filled with nature.
The hashtag isn’t entirely new. The outdoor apparel company UCO Gear started #trashtag way back in 2015 with a very similar theme of cleaning up the great outdoors, but it wasn’t until just last weekend that the hashtag started going viral on social media.
The big one started on the r/wholesomememes subreddit in the early part of Saturday morning. The post showed a young man in front of a forest that had become absolutely covered in trash, and then another image of that entire forest completely devoid of litter. The post has received 141,000 upvotes as of the time of publishing, and has inspired an entire movement across the whole of the internet.
On Instagram, the #trashtag challenge got people posting pictures of beautiful beaches previously ruined by garbage now restored for their former glory. On Twitter, people posted about how they were changing their weekend plans to go clean up a dirty stretch of highway or a polluted pond.
Naturally, everyone was all for it. There’s plenty of garbage in the world, and far too much of it ends up marring the wonderful beauty of nature.
The movement got so big it even inspired its own subreddit where people can accumulate #trashtag posts and see how social media is cleaning up the world.
There is one teensy problem with the #trashtag challenge. While it’s doing a great job of showing the immediate after-effects of people cleaning up, it doesn’t show where all that garbage ultimately winds up.
We have a big problem with the amount of waste our society produces, and until we all agree to stop using so much one-use and “disposable” plastic containers, the #trashtag challenge might all be in vain.