ALERT: Exit 20 on I-40 W near Maggie Valley is OPEN. Be advised that I-40 W after Exit 20 is one lane due to a rock slide. Visit the NCDOT website for the latest information.

#TrashTag: A Wholesome Challenge Goes Viral

#trashtag in the Smokies with Steven Reinhold

One man’s trash, is still trash if it’s litter.

Over the weekend and in the blink of an eye, as most viral challenges go, the #trashtag challenge swept the nation and the world on social media. The challenge is simple, head to an outdoor area covered in litter and snap a pic before and after you pick up the trash.

The #trashtag all started when one Haywood County man’s receipt accidentally flew out his car window. Steven Reinhold was on a road trip across USA with his friend John Heyward when a receipt made its escape to the great outdoors. Both feeling guilty about the unintended litter, they vowed to pick up 100 pieces of trash to make up for it. As they continued their road trip and collecting trash, they began documenting their efforts and tagging their location on social media with the hashtag #trashtag. As an ambassador for UCO Gear, the company offered to help publicize Reinhold’s efforts on social media back in 2015, and now in 2019 the wholesome trend really took off.

VNCS: How do you participate in the #TrashTag?
Reinhold: Joining the #trashtag challenge is fun and easy, although sometimes messy! All you have to do is go out and pick up some trash, post it to your social media accounts with a #trashtag and you’re in! You can tag your location, explain why it’s important for you to clean up, you can post before and after pictures or a creative picture that makes picking up trash look cool.

VNCS: Have you #trashtag-ed in Haywood County?
Reinhold: Haywood County has been then epicenter for the #trashtag project and home of the first large scale #trashtag challenge. In 2015 I hosted a huge cleanup of Lake Junaluska with Shining Rock Academy. The entire school cleaned up every piece of trash around the lake and it was something special. A group of my best friends and I also picked up the entire Black Balsam trail and parking area and I’ve picked up countless pieces throughout the area. Although the idea for #trashtag started on a road trip, Haywood County is most definitely the place that developed my love for nature and inspired me to keep it clean!” Reinhold continued.

#trashtag in the Smokies with Steven Reinhold

Shining Rock Classics Academy cleanup at Sunburst Falls | Steven Reinhold Photo

VNCS: Any odd finds while picking up trash?
Reinhold: There have definitely been some odd pieces of trash picked up with the #trashtag challenge. For me, the strangest one was in the Great Smokies with their superintendent, Cassius Cash. We saw what appeared to be a body wrapped in a blanket near Lake Fontana and that was one thing we weren’t  prepared to pick up! Turns out it was a bunch of liquor bottles and other trash items wrapped up in a blanket. We packed it all out and laughed out loud!

VNCS: Following the #trashtag on social media, where’s the most surprising place to see it happening?
Reinhold: It’s surreal to say this but it looks like #trashtag has made its way around the globe. I saw a great article about cleanups in Jakarta. I’ve seen massive cleanup efforts in The U.K., Mumbai, South Africa, Norway and Kashmir but my favorite so far is seeing how the effort is going viral in Nepal. I’m flying there next week for a trek and if I see people picking up #trashtag’s it will be unreal!

#trashtag at Black Balsam with Steven Reinhold

Big cleanup at Black Balsam | Steven Reinhold Photo 

VNCS: What do you hope the #trashtag will lead to?
Reinhold: Our original plan was to get the outdoor community to sweep our trails, parks and wild places clean of trash. The original audacious goal was to get a million pieces of trash picked up. Thanks to the recent viral craze the number of pieces of trash that we could pick up are almost endless. Now that everyone’s picking up the planet I hope it shines a spotlight on our pollution paradigm and begins to shift the discussion to how we can create less trash from the beginning.

VNCS: How do you think people can keep the momentum going for this viral sensation?
Reinhold: 
I hope the #trashtag challenge can continue to ride this viral tidal wave that has swept it across the planet. When you see a piece of trash pick it up and #trashtag it to keep the clean vibes going!

 

#trashtag in the Smokies with Steven Reinhold

Great Smoky Mountains Cleanup at Cataloochee | Steven Reinhold Photo

We spoke to a few local organizations that help keep Haywood County’s outdoor wonders exactly that, wonderful. When speaking with April Corbett from Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway she says of the #trashtag challenge, “We are all responsible for this planet and it is great to see such positive care for the environment.” She encourages the movement within the bounds of safety – it is trash after all – and noted that “It is possible, though, due to their (Asheville Chapter of Friends BRP) hard work that the BRP is clean already.” Quite true, Haywood County’s BRP section rarely sees trash thanks to Park Service employees, locals, and tourists alike. Leave No Trace has been a long standing encouragement in the outdoor communities from the National Park Service. In the Great Smoky Mountains, the largest litter problems happen near campgrounds and along roadsides. Brent McDaniel from Friends of the Smokies says “The park can always use a helping hand to pick up litter, and we encourage interested volunteers to contact the park’s volunteer office to coordinate those efforts for participants’ safety.”

Want to participate in the #trashtag challenge?

It’s simple, pick up trash! We encourage wearing gloves to protect your hands from germs and using trash pickers and grabbers to keep your distance for extra soggy bits. Make sure to sanitize your hands after cleanup and don’t forget to snap and before and after photo to post to social with #trashtag and #trashtagchallenge! We also encouraging recycling what can be recycled. And if you want to #TriangleDance in your after photo, we say, the more viral coverage the better.

Richland Creek Cleanup at Vance Street April 27th

Date and Time: April 27th from 9:00-10:30 am. (Feel free to leave early if you need to)

Location: Meet at the Vance Street pavilion by the sports fields (550 Vance Street, Waynesville, NC 28786). RSVP by April 26th to Christine O’Brien at [email protected] or 828-476-4667 ext. 11.

Description: The cleanup will take place in along the stream bank of Richland Creek. Gloves, trash bags, trash grabbers, and snacks will be provided.  Please wear close-toed shoes and long pants that can get dirty and wet if you want to get into the water. Trash makes its way into local streams by stormdrains, wind, and careless people. Much of the trash, particularly plastics, can take hundreds of years to decompose. Besides being ugly, trash is bad for wildlife and can clog stormdrains and pipes, which can cause localized flooding. Come help improve the waterways of Haywood County.

#trashtag on Social

1
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Sarah Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Awesome!

Stay Connected

Sign up for our eNewsletter.