Earth is a resilient place. The forces of nature beyond our control have magnificently fearsome power, yet we human beings are the root of our own planet's environmental demise. Since 2010, floods have cost the United States $40 billion. Hurricanes, fires, storms, and natural disasters like these are difficult (if not impossible) to control. We can, however, control how we treat the environment. And, to be honest, we haven't been doing a great job of it.
Hope remains while people care. People do care, but it's sometimes difficult to spur the masses into action. We're much more liable to remain apathetic to the sprawling impact of our own actions and inactions. How do we reach enough people to start a movement to make a difference? The internet, duh.
As of March 2017, there were 3.74 billion internet users worldwide. A number which has certainly grown since. With that many people constantly connected, there's a powerful platform for good to be done. We've experienced the virality of some of the terrible challenges that have swept the internet. From people eating TidePods to spoons full of cinnamon, it's safe to say most of them are ridiculous, if not harmful. Now we've got one that is challenging people to do some good for our planet.
"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," read the caption on a Facebook post by Byron Roman.
The top of the split-screen picture with the post showed ecologist Drici Tani Younes sitting in an outdoor space that's covered with garbage. The bottom shows him in the same outdoor space after collecting all the trash into bags and making it clean again. Pretty simple concept, right? Traditionally, good signage is an advertising and branding tool that can generate an additional 75% to a business's customer base and visibility. Now, advertising has become a bit more complex. Byron Roman didn't invent this challenge, but his post revived the 2015 #TrashTag Project started by outdoor gear company UCO.
His post went viral immediately. Since he posted, it's been liked over 100,000 times and shared over 332,000 times. Across the world, groups of people are posting pictures of garbage riddled outdoor spaces before and after cleaning them up. With 91% of people in the United States having their mobile phones within reach any given moment of the day, you can see how easy this positive trend is to share. It's currently bringing communities together to make the places around them cleaner. They're removing plastic pollution, making prettier areas, and creating better environments for wildlife. Why post a picture and #TrashTag it? Seeing others do good things encourages more people to do good things.
"Usually I'm against doing good deeds just to post it online but in the case of #trashtag i am 100% for it, if that's what it takes. Good people are good," said one Tweet.
We couldn't agree more. With all the other nonsense viral challenges clogging our social media feeds most of the time, this is a breath of fresh air. Predominantly targeted at a younger generation it's seen sweeping success universally.
"I was just looking to add a positive message. The message resonated with many around the world, so I guess I inspired more than just my social media friends," said Byron Roman to The Weather Channel.
Now the trick is for this movement to last longer than being a month-long feel-good campaign only to be abandoned later. Let's keep it up.