Last Sunday took place the first Trashtag Challenge in Ulaanbaatar. This new social media challenge is another fad, yet one that matters. It all started with a UB resident who proposed to carry out the challenge on a local facebook page. Two weeks after, the participants gathered at the Zaisan bridge ready to get their hands dirty. Around 15 bags of trash were collected in two hours and a half.

Who started the trashtag challenge in Ulaanbaatar?

The challenge proposal came from Oyundari, an environmentally conscious local resident. After seeing all the trash challenges on social media, she could not wait to do something similar in her city. She decided to approach people via Facebook, on a page whose members are Mongolian as well as foreigners who live here. Her post was simple: I want to do the #Trashtag challenge, who wants to join in?  Her initiative soon got a lot of positive comments, and a lot of people showed interest in participating in the cleanup day. The day of the challenge, the turn up was lower than Facebook’s initial enthusiasm had shown, but far from being dispirited, this was still a big win for Oyundari, who had planned everything in order to have a successful day.

One of the trashtag challenge volunteers finds a stash of trash underneath a tree

What is the trashtag challenge about?

The #trashtag challenge has shown us how much we can accomplish if we have enough motivation and a few garbage bags. Sometimes we think that a single person is not enough, or that cleaning up a street corner does not matter because there will be other streets in the same condition. Hence, why bother. But social media platforms are making these local actions more visible. Images of the challenges around the world are raising awareness and inspiring others, including citizens in Ulaanbaatar.  You will find photos of a single individual, a class of first-graders, a group of friends on Instagram and Facebook. All of them making a small difference and motivating other people to take a stance for nature.

One of the volunteers picking up trash from a very dirty area of the river

Volunteers in Ulaanbaatar

The volunteers for this challenge also felt the urge to do something for the city they live in. Some people have lived here all their lives and have seen throughout the years how the city has become dirtier. Other volunteers feel like there is too much trash in some areas and wanted to help remove it. All in all, everybody had the same desire to see a cleaner UB and acted upon that desire.

Trashtag challenge Volunteers collect 15 bags of trash by the Tuul River

Play your part

While cleaning small areas from time to time will not solve the garbage disposal problem the city is facing, it is a good starting point. Some believe consistency can be the key to success. In the eyes of one of the participants, if such actions become a regular activity, they will set an example and more people will follow. Another volunteer agrees that, while cleaning does not solve the problem in the long term, it does help some, but she thinks it is important to educate our children from a young age. Oyundari hopes that this little step that was taken last Sunday will inspire other people to join future challenges or even start their own.

Volunteers of UB trashtag challenge by the Tuul River

Join the movement!

The group that initiated this eco-friendly challenge has a Facebook page called ProjectZeroDes, where they will be posting future challenges and other environmentally conscious activities. Everybody is welcome to join in and be proactive. Perhaps this can be the beginning to a better, cleaner UB.

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