Many of the more Internet-savvy among you may recall the latest trend of viral movements that over the previous few years have caught the attention of the world over social media. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, still strangling a spoonful of cinnamon on a dare or standing stock while Rae Sremmurd’s song “Black Beatles” plays in the background.
Some of these viral movements have been little more than prevalent and stupid dares, but others, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, have motivated individuals to do good. Now a fresh trend has emerged on the news feeds of people with references to the widespread pollution scourge. It is properly marked as #trashtag, and the creators hope it will save the world…
What is Pollution?
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, pollution refers to any substance or thing that is either harmful or poisonous to the environment or the living things that dwell there. This can be any sort of substance really, but for the sake of brevity, we are going to discuss the pollutive effects of plastics, chemicals, and most importantly, litter.
The concept of reigning in the effects of pollution is a relatively recent one. Prior to the 1960s, most people didn’t even consider the long-term effects of their litter, carbon emissions, or the toxic runoff of the so-called “nuclear age.” Today though, after learning what can happen if pollution is left unchecked, some people are trying to change things…
It’s no secret that human beings are adept at overconsumption of resources; just look at NASCAR. Nevertheless, there have been great strides over the years in the areas of recycling, conservation, and even cleanup. If these strides had not occurred, we may all be up to our necks in our own trash. And make no mistake, that could still happen.
When Byron Román first posted on social media with a subtle encouragement for “bored teens” to go out and pick up litter, he didn’t expect a response. Rather, he expected the response to be overwhelmingly smarmy and sarcastic. Nor did he expect that this somewhat innocuous post would make any sort of difference. He was mistaken…
Byron’s post read, “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.” He also attached a before and after photo of a messy area being cleaned up by another young man. With a mere seven days, the post had exploded into a full-blown movement.
Byron’s initial call to action received hundreds of thousands of shares on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit. One of his friends in Guatemala was amongst those who spread the word and posted his own image and the same message in Spanish as well. He tagged it #BasuraChallenge and #Trashtag…
It seemed that there were plenty of so-called “bored teens” all over the world who wanted to make the planet just a little cleaner. They cleaned up beaches, parks, schools, streets, just about anywhere they could. But what prompted these teens to get up and do something when so much else has failed to do so?
Steven Reinhold, a UCO people ambassador, and outdoorsman recalled the moment that they saw the #trashtag for the first time. “Me and a buddy of mine were out on a road trip in California and a receipt blew out of a window. We kind of felt bad about it because it was in a really pretty location, so we decided to pick up 100 pieces of trash.” And so it began…
All Around the World
In India, a world away, a group of teens picked up mounds of discarded plastic thrown out by the local people of Junagadh. Across the ocean in California, another group worked to clean off a local beach by getting rid of bottle caps, plastic straws, and deflated balloons. They were doing what they could to make a difference and it was showing.
Making a Difference
Byron’s initial goal was only to try to enlist some help with the environment. All he wanted was to see if he could transform boredom into something positive, a challenge like the Ice Bucket Challenge that might make a positive impact on the world. He never envisioned that the hashtag would actually add up enough to show change…