An internet challenge that puts a smile on yours and Mother Nature’s face – and it all started in our neck of the woods

Internet Challenges can sometimes cause trouble, but the ‘Trash Tag Challenge’ brings us nothing but positivity and inspiration for a cleaner Earth.

The ‘Trash Tag Challenge’ dares people of all ages to take a “before” picture of a littered outdoor location, then clean it thoroughly, and share an “after” photo with the hashtag #trashtag.

The campaign was created a few years ago in 2015 but was recently resurrected last week by an Arizona Facebook user. Boy, are we glad that he did! The challenge is spreading worldwide, and as of now, isn’t slowing down.

This challenge has already motivated thousands of people to clean and go green. Posts are blowing up on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

The idea was born by a Haywood Country, NC local Steven Reinhold. We asked the now social media hero how #trashtag all began. 

Q&A with Steven Reinhold: the man who started it all

Steven Reinhold

What do you do in your day to day life? Is the outdoors a big part of your life?

Reinhold: I run the Appalachian Adventure Company which is based out of Western North Carolina. We take people on guided hikes, do photography workshops and shoots with our pro photographer, Steve Yocom. You can check us out at www.appadventureco.com

What inspired the idea for #trashtag?

Reinhold: This whole thing started in 2015 when my friend John Heyward and I were on a USA road trip. We lost a receipt out of our car window and vowed to pick up 100 pieces of trash to make up for the incident. As we traveled around picking up trash and tagging our locations the idea for #trashtag was born. Then, UCO Gear, one of my outdoor sponsors, jumped in to help springboard the #trashtag project into existence. 

How did you start it? Did it take off right away?

Reinhold: The #trashtag project was sponsored by UCO Gear, which I represent as a Brand Ambassador, and it showed great results at first! The outdoor community really embraced the challenge and we had over 20,000 posts of #trashtag’s in the first few years—most of which came from National Parks. 

Did you expect it to go this far?

Reinhold: I knew #trashtag was a great idea from the start but never dreamed it would go this far. By design, it had the potential to worldwide through social media but I don’t think the world was quite ready for it in 2015. After all of the ridiculous challenges that have been floating around the internet lately it was the perfect time for the #trashtag challenge to take off, which happened when a guy named Byron Román made the perfect #trashtag post at the perfect time. 

Do you have a favorite #trashtag post?

Reinhold: It is hard to pick a favorite, but one that comes to mind was with Cassius Cash, the superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I got to ramble around the park with him and he was so cool with us picking up #trashtag’s on our hike! I truly admire him so, it was great to clean up the Smokies with him! 

Have you thought of more ideas for a cleaner, greener future?

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.

Lets keep #trashtag ALIVE

We want to bring this challenge to our beloved Blue Ridge and see how you #trashtag! The weather is warming up, so get out there, get cleaning, and post with both #trashtag and #bluerigdeoutdoors so we can share the progress. We’ll see you out there!