Finally, a positive online “challenge” has gone viral!
For years, bored teens and online spotlight-seekers have followed silly and sometimes dangerous trends, from the Birdbox challenge to the Tide Pod challenge. However, the idea of using a viral trend to motivate people for good could be an extremely positive force in the world, and the new #trashtag challenge is a perfect example.
The hashtag was first seen in a 2015 post by the media brand Teton Gravity Research.
“Help us all […] by joining the #trashtag project and posting pics of your own clean up efforts on Instagram. We aim to make a tangible impact on the environment through the galvanizing forces of social media,” the company wrote.
Unfortunately, like most attempts to create viral trends, the hashtag never caught on and faded away into obscurity. Luckily, years later, an old photo somehow managed to pick up steam and spread across social media.
The photo below appears to be what sparked the spread of the trend. It can be traced back to a Reddit post in the Wholesome Memes sub-reddit, but it is not clear where the image originated.
The trend quickly spread across Twitter and Instagram, to users in many different corners of the world!
— Kelllvvviiinnn (@kelllvvviiinnn) March 9, 2019
— Adhiti (@frizhbee) March 10, 2019
— Steben Stupid (@steben316) March 11, 2019
— Robbie McNeil (@RMcNeil2105) March 10, 2019
— GermanG (@ger__mann) March 11, 2019
#trashtag has been an awesome time world wide flash moment.
From 44bags in Asheville North Carolina, 500 volunteers picking up 8000 lb in South mountain regional Park Arizona, and Hungry cleaning rivers.
This has been one of the best hashtag challenges ever. pic.twitter.com/QON5Ahdkzo
— OREGON I.T. NOT IT⚾ (@OregonJOBS2) March 11, 2019
— zzzzz (@Naxsx7N) March 10, 2019
Cody Hanson, one of the participants in the challenge, said:
“It’s the only outdoors we have. We all use it for many different things but it is the only one we have. So let’s all do our part and treat it with respect. Let’s pick up after ourselves and then pick up extra. It only takes a few minutes of your time to pick up something that’ll far outlast us humans if left alone. We’re the ones who get can pass it along to those who will come after us in better shape than we found it.”
Many have been quick to point out that similar trends were popular in smaller communities before the #trashtag challenge went viral. For example, the sub-reddit r/trees, where cannabis enthusiasts and potheads gather, had an ongoing trend where people would post pictures of participants cleaning up their favorite smoking spots, or cleaning up while smoking a joint, to fight against the stereotype of the “lazy stoner.”
Hopefully, the success of this challenge will inspire other positive viral trends in the future. For far too long, viral trends have brought out the worst in us, but the #trashtag challenge is proof that they can bring out the best in us too.