• Laurel Contributor

#Trashtag Movement

by Stephanie Edwards

Coinciding with Earth Day, the Cashiers Area Chamber teamed up with the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and community volunteer David Young on an annual “deep clean” of the shoulders along US Highway 64 West. Young and his hardworking crew provided the muscle to pick up trash above and below the guardrails on the scenic byway and the chambers underwrote the effort. See the Cashiers Area Chamber Instagram photos of the impressive haul under the trending #trashtag identification.

The Plateau’s pristine natural environment is one of the area’s most valuable resources and the source of destination appeal to residents and visitors alike. Irresponsible littering by individuals and trash flying from uncovered truck and trailer beds destroy the beauty and cleanliness of the main thoroughfare between southern Jackson to Macon Counties. The Cashiers Area Chamber urges everyone to do their part in stemming litter on local highways and back roads with their public awareness campaign to “Keep it Clean, Keep it Green.”

More than a ton (2,200 pounds total) of litter was collected on Sunday mornings during April as part of the Plateau’s community cleanup. Ninety-four bags were filled by Young’s team and accepted at no charge by the Jackson County Public Works Department’s Staffed Recycling Center. Large North Carolina Department of Transportation “Litter Pickup in Progress” signage was erected to alert drivers to the roadside activity. The distinctive NCDOT orange plastic trash bags which were used are available to other groups interested in helping with clean up. Visit the Cashiers Area Chamber at 202 US Highway 64 est, just west of the Crossroads for free bags and safety vests.

Interestingly, the popular #trashtag campaign was started in Western North Carolina in 2015 by Steven Heinhold, of Sylva. Inspired by his own love of the mountains, he pitched the idea to outdoor equipment retailer UCO Gear, which then launched a movement on social media. Earlier this year, a marketing educator from Arizona issued a Facebook challenge encouraging users to post photos of trash pickup up and other environmental maintenance.

“Since then #trashtag and #trashtagchallenge have blown up on social media and earned notice from major outlets including Forbes, The Washington Post, British Broadcasting Company and even The India Express, half a world away,” according to Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville..

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