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Social media helps clean the world, one tag at a time

BY TAYLOR LOGAN AND EMANUEL GEORGE

Photo courtesy to: PetaPixel

#Trashtag challenge picks up momentum.

The #Trashtag challenge is sweeping the nation, and its goal is to clean our earth, one hashtag at a time. 

The challenge originally began in 2015, started by a company called UCO, an outdoor gear store. Known as the #TrashTag Project, it began after UCO People ambassador Steven Reinhold accidentally let a receipt slip out his window during a road trip. Feeling tormented by his unintentional littering, he vowed to pick up 100 pieces of trash on the trip, and he succeeded. 

After returning from his adventure, Reinhold pitched the idea to UCO and soon after TrashTag was born.

“This project aligns with the company’s efforts to get people connecting outdoors while respecting our planet,” UCO president Graeme Esarey said in a press release back in 2015. “Through the UCO #TrashTag Project, UCO is looking forward to supporting individuals that inspire responsible conservation acts as a way towards building strong communities and creative environmental actions.”

But not long after, the project died and UCO deleted almost all evidence of it ever existing, and the thoughts of cleaning our community died with it. 

But in 2019, the challenge came back, sparked by a post by Byron Roman, made on March 5. It encouraged “bored teens” to clean their communities, and went viral from there, to Roman’s surprise. 

Screenshot of the post by Byron Roman.

“Viral was the last thing that had crossed my mind. If you look at my page, I like posting positive things, always trying to inspire the best in people. But[It] feels great and overwhelming, and weird because though my post is the one that went viral, the challenge was not my idea,” Roman said. “I was merely sharing the cause. But, great because it’s helping the cause.”

After seeing this post, millions of kids, teenagers and adults alike were inspired to clean up their communities all over the world.

And after seeing it I was inspired too.

Montage of the beach clean. Video by Emanuel George/Sheridan Sun

This weekend, along with my two friends Emanual George and Alex Schilz, we decided to make a change. 

I remember this summer, going to the Burlington Beach for July 4. I remember sitting in the sand with my friends, laughing and joking around, and looking down and seeing so much garbage. I was heartbroken, but I didn’t do anything about it. Now was the time to finally do something.

After walking the 6.8 acres of beach, finding a collection of various things (including Tim Hortans’ cups, police tape, couches and a lot of dead birds), we ended up collecting three full bags of garbage. 

Alex Schilz, left, and Taylor Logan after completing the #Trashtag Challenge at Burlington Beach. (Photo by Emanual George/Sheridan Sun)

It was an amazing experience, and my friends agree. What started as a cold, slightly hungover day, turned into something I want to do every weekend. I got some much-needed sun, a great day with the people I love and compliments and words of encouragement from complete strangers, not to mention how amazing it felt being able to see how clean the beach became. 

Coming in I wanted to inspire people myself, and leaving the beach I felt like I accomplished just that. 

So many strangers came up to us, a few children saw us and copied our behaviour. A little boy yelled from the lakeshore that him and his mom picked plastic from the water. Even the simple act of being seen cleaning the sand had inspired a new generation of enthusiasts like me. It filled my heart with joy knowing that a little group of 20-year-olds not only could do so much for our community, but inspire so many people by doing it. I never wanted to stop. 

In the end, I learned how fulfilling the #Trashtag Challenge is, how wholesome and “feel good” cleaning up our community could be. If everyone in the world picked up their trash, the world would be a better place. 

I hope that, out of all the fleeting internet challenges that come and go, this is the one to stay.

Written by
Taylor Logan

Taylor Logan lives in Burlington, Ontario and is a second year Journalism student at Sheridan College. She is an environmental queen and is about all things conservation. One day she hopes to work for CBC in the science and tech unit.

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Written by Taylor Logan

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