Oftentimes, news stories with the words “teenager” and “challenge” reveal some dangerous thing teens are daring each other to do, all for views online.

They have been the subjects of viral online panics for eating liquid laundry detergent pods and snorting condoms.

They have dared each other to guzzle a gallon of milk — without vomiting; eat a tablespoon of cinnamon — without vomiting; and to gulp down two liters of a carbonated beverage — without vomiting. They have been known to douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and set themselves on fire and throw boiling water on unsuspecting peers.

This is not one of those stories.

This is about the #trashtag challenge — one encouraging teens to do something constructive. The trend has been around for years — UCO Gear, an outdoor lighting company in Seattle, started using the hashtag in 2015 to “encourage others to pack out trash when they spot it on the trail.” But Facebook user Byron Román helped it grab widespread attention online — and aimed it at teens — posting on March 5 a before-and-after picture showing a dramatic cleanup in a garbage-strewn area in the woods.

AD
AD

“Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens,” Román wrote. “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.”

Here is a new #challenge for all you bored teens. Take a photo of an area that needs some cleaning or maintenance, then...

Posted by Byron Román on Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Román, a 53-year-old mortgage loan officer from Phoenix, said he had seen the photo on a friend’s Facebook page, but it appears it came from an ecotourism company, Happy Tours GT in Guatemala. The company posted the picture March 4 with a similar caption in Spanish, which, Román said, he translated into English. Then, he said, he added the hashtags #trashtag and #BasuraChallenge and directed the message toward teens.

He said it was not meant to insult teenagers, but to encourage them.

AD

The Washington Post contacted Happy Tours GT for comment, but the company said in a message it only helped the image go viral and does not know where the picture originated or who the man in the photo is. Román said he had hoped the man would have surfaced by now, but he has not yet been identified.

AD

Even as the identity — or intentions — of the person in the photo remains a mystery, Román’s Facebook post continued to spread. By Tuesday, it had been shared more than 323,000 times and drawn a couple dozen comments, most from social media users who appeared to be adults discussing ways to get teens into it.

“Great idea! Step Up Youngsters!!” one person responded.

AD

“Not just for teens,” another replied. “Let’s go humanity...”

Román said he has since received hundreds of messages from people around the world, including from teachers and parents, sending him photos of their own cleanups with their children.

“I think it’s our responsibility to keep our planet clean. It doesn’t matter who made the mess because it belongs to all of us,” Román said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Post. He said he has set up a second Facebook account called “Basura Challenge Arizona” to encourage people in his own community to join him in the effort to help clean up the planet. “It’s our job,” he said.

AD

Román acknowledged in a subsequent post he did not start the #trashtag challenge, or the #basurachallenge, the Spanish word for “trash,” but added, “I am glad my post reached every corner of the world.”

AD

And apparently, it did — people from around the United States and the world posted cleanup photos over the weekend on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter and urged others to do the same. The Post could not independently confirm the veracity of the photos.

Here in the District.

On roadsides.

And beaches.

In Thailand.

In Mexico.

In India.

In Cambodia.

In big ways.

In small ways.

View this post on Instagram

We can be better than this. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ I found this plastic bag stuck in a bush near our campsite and decided to put it to use. Inside is every plastic shot gun shell I could find along with every piece of plastic and trash I could see within our campsite. This excludes the countless amount of spent ammo casings and glass bottles thrown into fire pits and used as targets that are nearly impossible to collect.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ It’s the only outdoors we have. We all use it for many different things but it is the only one we have. So let’s all do our part and treat it with respect. Let’s pick up after ourselves and then pick up extra. It only takes a few minutes of your time to pick up something that’ll far outlast us humans if left alone. ⁣ ⁣⁣ We’re the ones who get can pass it along to those who will come after us in better shape than we found it. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #flagstaff #leavenotrace #flagstaffarizona #priestdraw #packitout #cleanupafteryourselves #trashtag

A post shared by Cody Hanson (@codyleehanson) on

And in college.

Read more:

AD
AD