Over the weekend, an online challenge went viral on social media and around the world. While most viral challenge trends have seemed childish or banal at times (we are looking at you, Birdbox Challenge), this one has a meaningful and wholesome purpose behind it.
#Trashtag is taking the world by storm. Hundreds of people have been sharing their before-and-after photos of litter-strewn parks, beaches, and streets they have cleaned up.
The challenge is simple enough: Take a photo of a polluted area in your vicinity, clean it up, and show the world.
Its impact, however, is being drastic. All around, people are participating and calling on others to start doing the same and clean up their communities.
Hey kids. Remember the Harlem shake..the water bottle flip challenge..the mannequin challenge..? At last, something meaningful is about to drop globally - #trashtag - take a before and after shot of major tidying efforts. You heard it here first, kids. @CognitaSchools #CognitaWay pic.twitter.com/pp873OGNP2— Andy Perryer (@andyperryer) March 10, 2019
With the ongoing garbage crisis, people were quick to recognize just how much we need such initiative in Lebanon.
جماعة ال challenge و الهاشتاغات.. جبتلكم شالانج جديد و طازج.. هيدا الشالانج هو عبارة انك تنظف مكان معين و تشيل الزبالة كلها و تنزل صورة قبل و بعد... لنشوف اذا رح يمشي عنا متل كيكي و الحركات الهبل..#trashtag#صباح_الخير#لبنان#بيروت pic.twitter.com/IFbvtXtOza— زعتر (@__Zaatar__) March 11, 2019
'Hey challenge-lovers, I got you a new challenge fresh off the boat. This trend basically comprises of cleaning up a spot, picking up all the litter, and taking before-and-after photos... Let's see if it'll catch on like all the rest.'
Lebanon has been grappling with spreading pollution for a while now. One of its most prominent forms is water pollution.
Despite increased awareness and independent initiatives, like opening the Middle East's First Zero-Waste Shop, a lot has to be done. Some of which can be accomplished by the average person at the consumer level.
#1 Wean yourself off disposable plastics.
90% of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wraps, disposable cutlery, straws, and coffee-cup lids. Replace these products with reusable versions.
Many shops and restaurants in Lebanon have already switched to paper bags. Some restaurants, like Roadsters, have even stopped serving straws because of their detrimental impact on our environment.
#2 Start recycling
Sorting your wastes into paper and plastic can help reduce pollution in our beautiful land by over 50%. Confused about where to start? Check out this article about all the recycling centers in Lebanon.
#3 Buy in bulk
Whether single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, or tiny packages of nuts, try to switch to bigger containers instead of buying several smaller ones whenever possible. It will help reduce packaging waste, which contains detrimental chemicals and harmful materials.
#4 Put pressure on government representatives
Though we can make a difference by adjusting our own habits, factories and corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a government official has been neglecting his or her duties to your environment, make your voice heard.
Write a letter, launch a petition, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your vote to someone else; someone more mindful and conscious.
#5 Join the hashtag!
The best and quickest action you can take at the moment is to participate in #Trashtag! Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Put on a medical mask and some gloves (because safety is sexy, of course), and get in on the action.
In any case, your action matters. Spread the call and keep the momentum going!