Trash Bag Challenge Goes Viral, Inspires International Cleanups

One man's challenge has people everywhere de-littering one neighborhood at a time

Why are people around the world picking up trash from beaches, roads, parks and everywhere else and sharing the before-and-after photos on social media?

Thank a guy from Arizona. Byron Roman shared a picture on his Facebook page of an Algerian ecologist cleaning up trash and urged people (especially teenagers) to join the #TrashTag Challenge.

Huffpost reports the idea went viral (333K shares last we checked), and revitalized a 2015 campaign by UCO, an outdoor gear company, encouraging people to clean up their neighborhoods and share the results under the #TrashTag hashtag.

"I was just looking to add a positive message," he told the Weather Channel. "The message resonated with many around the world, so I guess I inspired more than just my social media friends."

Trashtagging it in India.

But can efforts like #TrashTag make a difference? Yes and no. Yes, the area you clean up looks better and is healthier for the community and wildlife. But experts say, unfortunately, the impact on the world trash problem is infinitesimal. "We cannot simply recycle or beach-clean our way out of the plastic pollution crisis," Ellen MacArthur of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Some countries and cities are choosing to ban certain single-use plastic items like shopping bags, plastic silverware and Styrofoam containers ( here's our story about Maryland considering a ban).

Keepin' it clean in Arizona.

Experts say a holistic approach that includes environmentalists, consumers and industry is the only solution. "The problem with plastics is not simply a litter problem, it is a pollution problem," Mirjam Kopp, a global project leader on plastic pollution at Greenpeace, told HuffPost in an email this year.

(Images: Byron Roman's Facebook page )

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