Breaking News
More () »

#trashtag: Viral challenge hits Charlotte area, inspires community action

Radion Aleynikov of Charlotte bagged garbage off the McAlpine Creek Greenway. Nick Aron spent hours collecting litter in Boone.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Finally! A social media challenge we can all get behind.

You don't have to eat or snort anything. Or jump out of a car. Or set yourself on fire. 

Just pick up some trash.

Radion Aleynikov jumped on the #trashtag Challenge as soon as he heard about it, using the topic as a conversation starter on a reddit post.

The campaign was created a few years ago, but a Facebook user in Arizona recently resurrected the movement.

"My initial post was asking if anyone wanted to tag along with me to clean a street," Aleynikov said. "I figured it'd be a nice way to make a friend and to contribute to society."

Great minds, apparently, think alike.

"The response was huge, and I got pretty overwhelmed, and I decided to just clean up a street myself and schedule a group cleaning another day," said Aleynikov.

The goal of the #trashtag Challenge is to inspire people to go green and clean up the environment around them. Participants take a before photo of the area filled with trash, clean it up, then take an after photo.

Aleynikov's fellow reddit posters pointed him toward the McAlpine Creek Greenway, where he and his girlfriend ended up bagging 50 lbs. of garbage on March 10.

"Everybody is super supportive of everyone who's participating. I think this challenge shows how alike we all are," Aleynikov said. "We're all informed about the horrible things we are doing to the environment, and most of us want to do something about it."

His good deed was even featured in a Time magazine article about the #trashtag Challenge, thanks to an Instagram post by Rick Winiker, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commissioner.

"Excited to see #trashtag happening in #CLT," Winiker wrote.

Aleynikov said he's been part of the "detrashed community" on reddit for some time, and he hopes the #trashtag Challenge will inspire others to step up.

"We're all born thinking that nature is the wooded forest in front of our houses, but the reality is that we live in nature. We've built our homes on nature, and we're all a part of nature," he said.

Aleynikov isn't the only one in our area getting in on the action. Nick Aron of Boone also posted his cleanup on Instagram this week.

"5 hours, 12 bags, 350 pounds of trash. #trashtag," he wrote.

The City of Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Department joined the trash talk as well.

"The Belmont community cleaned up last weekend, and Sri Sathya Sai Baba is hosting a cleanup this weekend! Who's next in CLT? #trashtag  @KCB_Charlotte," the department tweeted.

And Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services thanked a fellow tweeter who reminded folks about opportunities to join the utility's cleanup events. 

"Thank you @Researching_GW for spreading the word about our #volunteer events! Join us for The Big Spring Clean or one of our 2nd Saturday events! Details at http://stormwater.charmeck.org," the staff tweet.

The next event, The Big Spring Clean, is March 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at various locations.