Most online challenges that go viral aren’t designed to make the world a better place. Some are funny while others are shockingly dangerous. However, one new challenge is bucking the trend, focusing instead on encouraging people to clean up garbage in public places and raising awareness about the amount of plastic litter that exists.
Dubbed the Trashtag Challenge, those who participate are encouraged to head out to beaches, roads, and parks to pick up litter.
According to a report by the BBC, the challenge also asks that people post before and after pictures of their efforts and results on social media with the hashtag #trashtag.
Volunteers have headed to a range of locations to remove trash.
One group in Novosibirsk, Russia, claimed to have collected about 223 bags of trash, 75 percent of which was recyclable and destined for recycling centers.
The Trashtag Challenge reportedly began in 2015, spearheaded by UCO Gear, an outdoor company. It was part of a larger campaign to protect wilderness areas.
Last week, the challenge gained new life after a Facebook Post highlighted the efforts of some “tired teens” who decided to give it a try. Ultimately, the hashtag went viral.
On Instagram, there are over 25,000 posts with the #trashtag hashtag, including variations like #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge.
The hashtag also has some non-English variants, including the Spanish #BasuraChallenge.
“Getting plastic out of the environment is important,” said Mark Butler, the policy director at the Ecology Action Center (EAC), a Canadian environmental agency.
“We need to do more than go behind the people that are littering and clean it up. We need to turn off the plastic tap,” Butler continued, adding that he hopes the challenge would change how people view single-use plastic containers.
“There’s the waste hierarchy, which is to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle. If we don’t do that stuff, then all we’ll be doing is cleaning up the litter with no end in sight.”