trash challenge
For once, the trash you find on Instagram is actually a good thing. (Illustration by Hannah Cullen, St. Cloud State University)
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trash challenge
For once, the trash you find on Instagram is actually a good thing. (Illustration by Hannah Cullen, St. Cloud State University)

Apparently, TrashTag isn’t just something to comment on your friends’ selfies.

The internet has been blowing up with people sharing posts of a new viral internet challenge; however, this challenge is significantly different than the many others that have swept their way across the web, and for good reason. While the viral challenge might initially sound off-putting thanks to the name “TrashTag,” the action behind it is surprisingly great in comparison to the infinite number of other so-called challenges that have come before.

Unlike the “Gallon Milk Challenge” that requires you to chug an entire gallon of milk, the “Cinnamon Challenge” that demands consuming a tablespoon of cinnamon or the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge” that involves using a cup to suction cup your lips until they reach an unnatural size, the viral trash challenge isn’t meant to induce bodily harm or make you look stupid. Instead, TrashTag is encouraging something much more important — a cleaner Earth.

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The viral trash challenge involves seeking out areas in your local community that are littered with garbage and then cleaning the area up by disposing of the waste properly into trash bags and garbage cans.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a viral challenge if it wasn’t centered around Instagram, so be sure to take a photo of what the area looked like before you cleaned it up and a photo of what it looked like afterward. Once you’ve completed the challenge you can post your photos to social media and caption them with the trending hashtag #TrashTag so that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

The trash challenge originated back in 2015 and was created by the outdoor gear company Utility, Comfort and Originality. The challenge had taken some foothold but quickly fizzled out. Only recently has the challenge resurfaced, thanks to Byron Roman, who made a #TrashTag post on Facebook that called on teens to take some initiative to tidy up their communities.

The internet has a huge amount of influence over almost every aspect of our lives, and it’s nice to see it being used to create positive changes in the way we treat our surroundings. With the exception of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that helped to spread awareness and fundraise for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a lot of the challenge videos that have gone viral in the past have not necessarily been beneficial to anyone or anything, to say the least. It warms my heart to see people from all walks of life participating in a challenge that is serviceable to our planet and allows people to take on a higher sense of responsibility to benefit the environment.

There are so many great reasons why you should join in on TrashTag, mostly because the viral trash challenge is helping to foster a number of healthy practices. Not only is the challenge urging you to pick up unsightly litter that could potentially be detrimental to the environment, but it stimulates you to actually get outside and connect with nature. Technology has become a prevalent part of today’s society and, at times, it can limit users from experiencing the real world. Thankfully, this internet challenge is an energizing way to get people outdoors, even if people are just doing it for the ‘Gram.

Along with getting people outside, “TrashTag” is also building stronger communities by having people work together, instilling a sense of camaraderie and collective rallying for change. It is easy to believe that picking up trash along a roadside or local park by yourself could hardly make an impact, but it’s important to remember that change has to start somewhere.

Byron Roman is one person, and he managed to reignite a challenge that has since then taken the internet by storm. Technology is a vector for inspiration and we are the catalysts responsible for igniting remarkable change.

I have participated in trash clean-ups myself and it truly is a rewarding feeling knowing that you have made the world just a little bit better than it was before. Participating in the viral trash challenge would be a great way to spend time with friends, enjoy the fresh air and get to know your city or town a little more. You might even stir up some inspiration in others to join in on the clean-up process, too.

Something that could propel this viral trash challenge further and transform it into a movement of sorts is if celebrities and people with larger social media platforms took some initiative and showed themselves participating in TrashTag. I think that having well-known influencers taking part in a challenge like this and advocating for change could be a great way to grow the challenge and continue spreading awareness about how big of an issue our waste has become.

Whether you are bored out of your mind and looking for something to do, walking home from work or hiking the trails with a friend, if you see garbage, take action and pick it up. I encourage all of you to give “TrashTag” a try and to document and share your experience with the world. After all, it only takes one person to spark a viral change, and I hope that you will accept the challenge.


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