People are Picking up Trash for a New Internet Challenge: Say Hello to #TrashTag

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Well, it’s 2019 and memes really do come true.

In reference to the ridiculous spoof internet challenges involving teens, Byron Román of Phoenix, AZ, posted to Facebook earlier this week that it would be great if the Internet could take up a more meaningful challenge than eating tide pods:

"Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens," Román posted on Facebook. "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."

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For the record, we don’t actually think teens are all that bored, considering they are leading the Youth Climate Movement which is gaining in momentum by the day. However, this is a great example of how the Internet can be leveraged to motivate people to make a positive impact in real life, youth and adults alike.

People have responded to the post - which has now been shared over 300,000 times on Facebook - by taking before and after photos of their cleanup efforts and posting them to social media under the hashtag #TrashTag:

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The hashtag is still actively trending on twitter, as people continue to post their #TrashTag photos in celebration of an Internet trend that is sparking positive behaviour.

Of course, picking up trash is merely ONE piece of the waste puzzle - yes, it’s necessary to clean our public spaces and our beaches, to get the garbage off the ground where it could be washed into waterways and potentially fatal to wildlife. It’s also important to conduct waste audits while performing those cleanups, so we can document where the waste is coming from and hold the corporations producing that waste accountable (see our blog on the importance of waste brand audits).

However, picking up the garbage alone will not stop it from coming back. In order to stop the steady stream of single-use garbage from ending up on the ground and in our waterways, we need to acknowledge that our recycling system is inadequate and take an entirely new approach to waste management such as plastic bans and bottle-return schemes (which is what Ontario is currently considering and what many countries and cities around the world have already implemented).

Until we take our #ActionForWater to the next level, the trash will keep coming back. Can we make the next viral internet challenge phoning local politicians to bug them for a plastic ban combined with leaving the trash we pick up on their doorsteps? #JustBanIt

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This is a guest blog from @itsahashtaglife – blogger, social media manager and content creator for non-profits and charities in Toronto. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.