We have witnessed a lot of garbage social media trends in the brief time humanity has had the internet. From the relative harmlessness of “do it for the Vine” to the deep stupidity of planking to the outright disingenuousness of the ice bucket challenge, we have, as a species, largely used our extraordinary connectedness via the peak of technology for evil. Or at the very least, abject vanity.
So I had small hopes when it came to the so-called trashtag challenge. But even though the meme definitely trades on that most-coveted form of social capital (completely fake internet points as arbiters of popularity), it actually seems to be doing something good while boosting participants’ performative egos: it’s genuinely getting people to clean up their immediate environment.
Captain Planet would be… moderately pleased, I guess?
The trashtag challenge involves people going into the wilderness (or to the beach, or on summer holiday or whatever), discovering garbage, photographing said garbage, picking UP said garbage, and photographing the resulting pristine state to which they’ve returned their surroundings. It’s pretty nice!
The meme has been going wild over on Reddit, but it’s made its way to Twitter as well, with people around the world taking the opportunity to run down to their nearest stream or patch of forest and pick up the trash left by their gross neighbours.
— Fred Schroeder (@fred_schroeder) March 10, 2019
— Daily Pictures (@getyerfix) March 10, 2019
It seems to have been kickstarted by this incredible visual of Versova Beach in Mumbai, where Afroz Shah and co. spent 96 weeks picking up 5 million kilograms of garbage.
Since then, the meme has spread all over:
And while yes, obviously, some of the posts are fake or stolen, the net positives from this particular social media meme seem pretty clearly to outweigh the few negatives. Trashtag challenge, mates! Clean shit up and enjoy the dopamine rush of those 25 likes, and actually doing something good for the planet!