Local man's viral #trashtag challenge sends people all over the world on garbage hunt

Steven Reinhold's #trashtag project encourages people to pick up trash they come across outdoors. (Photo credit: Steven Reinhold)

Not long ago, a local man started a social media effort to inspire people to pick up trash in nature. The #trashtag project took off by the thousands, and now it's now capturing worldwide attention.

Hiking 10 miles to a mountaintop out west a few years back sparked an idea. Steven Reinhold started #trashtag to encourage people to pick up trash they come across outdoors.

“Original goal was 10,000 pieces of trash,” Reinhold said.

It worked. From thousands inspired to pick up trash, it has grown to much bigger numbers, courtesy, Reinhold said, of an Arizona man who challenged teens on Facebook about a week ago, to take before and after pictures of their cleanup efforts.

“Byron Roman put up this post, and it just went completely viral, I think, on Reddit, Twitter and Instagram,” Reinhold said. “In terms of viral, I feel like there's probably like a million pieces getting picked up almost on a daily basis within just a week.”

Its captured national and international response and national media attention, too.

Reinhold said it’s a dream come true.

“It makes me feel amazing, honestly,” he said.

Residents like the movement.

“I think everybody in the world should be picking up trash instead of throwing it out their window. I'm getting sick of seeing it,” Pete Baratta of Cruso said.

Reinhold sees the #trashtag and #trashtagchallenge working and hopes it inspires a bigger dialogue.

“It kind of starts the conversation of why is there so much trash. What can we do to maybe reduce this in the future to where we don't ever have this problem,” he said.

Reinhold owns and operates the Appalachian Adventure Co. in Sylva. He takes patrons on guided hikes to see, what he hopes is trash-free nature.