There has been a viral trend going on lately called the #Trashtag challenge captioned: “For all, you bored teens out there”
If you haven’t read or heard about it yet, people are gathering and cleaning up their local environment.
It’s caught the attention of people all over the world and the result has been amazing!
This first time it caught my attention, it was by this courageous fellow.
Since then, we have seen countless images on social media, people standing next to big piles of trash bags, showing off their hard work.
All sorts of environments have been cleaned up, from local parks to beaches. What a great thing to see go viral.
It made my day to read about it and it’s been on my mind ever since.
The Hiking Day
I was packing up my things on a Saturday morning to get ready to go on a hike. I didn’t think to bring trash bags with me because I figured mountaintops would be clean, right?
Not the case.
We started the day slowly, taking our time hiking and my eye caught a bunch of water bottles and plastic trash in the trail. At first, I didn’t bother to pick it up but after a while, I just had to stop. I had a lot of room in my back-pack, why don’t I pick up this trash and take it back down with me?
So I started stuffing my backpack pockets with any plastic water bottles I saw and one of my hiking partners quickly noticed. She handed me some plastic bags, “thanks for what you’re doing, take this!”. I’m glad someone had thought about bringing some, I was very thankful.
I quickly filled one bag, then two bags… The first part of the trail was less often hiked, I thought this was a lot of trash but oh boy was I wrong.
On the second part of the trail, we encountered loads of it in stashes, any place where one would rest to eat snacks was littered with garbage. It looked something like this.
It’s not much effort to pick it up, but some people might say there’s no point because people will keep littering anyway.
My father in law, who was on the hike with me thinks just like this. He’s not the one to litter but he won’t stop to pick it up.
It’s hard to understand this way of thinking when you grow up seeing the pristine places you used to go to get littered with garbage. How could you not feel sad and want to clean it up?
This trail isn’t in my backyard, as a fact it’s in China, and chances are I won’t return to the exact location but it doesn’t matter. The idea of cleaning it is for the next people hiking it. I think 100% of people would rather see a clean trail than one full of garbage.
I hoped that my hiking partners would see my
“Look at this foreigner coming to our country and thinking cleaning up a bit of garbage will do a difference”. This is sadly what most of them think.
On the other hand, there were some of them happy to see my actions and encouraging me! Like the woman who gave me bags, the only sad part is that they did not join in.
I think that if all of us did the same and picked up garbage like I did (we were about 16), we could have cleaned up the entire trail in one go!
Where optimism and reality clash
When we were almost done the hike, I caught one of my hiking buddies chugging a can and throwing it in the woods! He looked behind to see if anyone noticed and lo and behold, it was me right behind him, the guy who had been picking it up. I looked at him and waved my finger with a “tsk tsk tsk” gesture. To which he blurted out in mandarin something along the lines of “China is already so dirty, it makes no difference!”
Maybe the older generations aren’t willing to clean up as much, but I see a change in the new generations. Since we are all so interconnected on social media, we have seen the problems created by trash pollution.
How can we not feel guilty for throwing trash on the ground when a garbage can is nearby? Why shouldn’t we store it in our pockets or bag until we find a place to
For some, it seems like it’s an inconvenience, “it’ll make my pocket and back-pack dirty! No thanks!”. Others gladly accept the idea.
Those people, us, we are leading the way in changing the mindset that the world is a garbage can. No matter how small we think our actions are, we have to keep going. The action is visible and people who see it over and over will likely join in too.
The idea of #trashtag challenge is a great one, and it sprouted out of this very concept. People feel inspired and want to join in, just like I did!
Picking up trash while hiking isn’t hard, it comes naturally if you’re enjoying the landscape.
Next time you prepare for a hike, plan for some room to bring garbage back down. Get some eco-friendly bags to pick it up, you can easily attach them outside of your bag, and it’s not heavy! All you have to do is carry it down and dispose of it correctly.
This way, the trail becomes cleaner and cleaner every time #trashbag challengers hike by. What’s not to like?
Where you are around the world, can you take up the #Trashtag Challenge? Forget if people think this is a waste of time, it’s not. Join us and clean
All of us who love the environment thank you!
#Trashtag Challenge, Hiking Edition.