Australians have for decades embraced home-grown campaigns to clean up rubbish in parks, rivers, beaches and oceans in the quest to sustain our claim to being among the world’s most beautiful countries in the world.
Millions of tonnes of public trash have been sent packing since such movements as Keep Australia Beautiful (1968) and Clean Up Australia and its Clean Up Australia Day (1989) concentrated our collective “clean-up” minds.
And while the work goes on with undiminished vigour as new generations around the world take up the challenge, a new even more potent clean up movement has suddenly taken hold across the world thanks to the world-wide web.
This month, a seemingly innocuous hashtag has kicked off a new global environmental campaign.
The #trashtag challenge reportedly went viral after a reddit user posted a photo of someone who had completed the challenge with the caption: “Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens. Take a photo of an area that needs some cleaning or maintenance then take a photo after you have done something about it, and post it here.”
The Reddit post challenged individuals to “make the world a better place.” But the idea first started in 2015 when outdoors clothing company UCO launched the #TrashTag Project.
“Me and a buddy of mine were out on a road trip in California and a receipt blew out of a window,” recalls Steven Reinhold, a UCO people ambassador at the time.
“We kind of felt bad about it because it was in a really pretty location, so we decided to pick up 100 pieces of trash.”
A CNN report said that over the weekend the #trashtag challenge inspired people to go to locations covered in garbage, pick up the trash, and post before and after pictures on social media.
So far there are more than 26,000 posts tagged on Instagram and countless volunteers have cleaned up parks, roads and beaches around the world.
A group in Junagadh, India, posted on Instagram about collecting plastic thrown out by locals.
The #trashtag challenge has been raising awareness of litter pollution and the scale of ocean plastic.
More than 150 million tonnes of plastic are in our oceans, according to a World Economic Forum paper from 2016, and a 2018 UK government report warned the amount of plastic polluting the world’s oceans is expected to triple between 2015 and 2025.
“If we all pick up a couple of things, we can all pitch in and make an impact,” says UCO’s Frazee.
“This is a movement to inspire people to be better stewards of the environment.”
Keep Australia Beautiful, formed in Melbourne in 1968, is best known for its “Do the Right Thing” campaign against littering, as well as its national awards programs, including the Australian Tidy Town Awards, the Australian Sustainable Cities Awards and Australian Clean Beaches Awards.
It works to foster relationships between the community, business and government to address the environmental issues of waste, water and climate change.
Since its inception, Clean Up Australia has grown to include other projects and campaigns including Business Clean Up Day, Schools Clean Up Day, Clean Up the Alps, Clean Up the Kimberley and Clean Up the World which attracted participation from 30 million volunteers in 80 countries.
The organisation is behind Clean Up Australia Day, as well as other environmental projects and campaigns.
Clean Up Australia Day is held on the first Sunday of March every year and encourages people to clean up their local areas. So you may have missed the last one but why not make every day Clean Up Australia Day.
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