Summer Adventure? Check; Trash Bag? Check, Check!

Headed for the lake? Along with pulling in a big bass or finding that perfect rock, add stewardship to your adventure by picking up trash for the #trashtag challenge.

In addition to their regular tasks, TVA employees routinely pick up and dispose of litter and trash that has found its way to the Tennessee River system. It’s the help from volunteers and visitors that can make all the difference, though.

“Many hands make light work,” says TVA’s Melinda Watson, Natural Resources program manager. “We always welcome the help of stewardship from anyone enjoying an adventure on public lands and waterways. In addition to helping the environment, you can help inspire the next generation to do the same.”

Engage the kids

“This is our favorite thing to do on the water,” says Pat Johnson, who pontoons on Norris Lake with her family. “We make it a game. You get points for spotting trash and points if it’s something out of the ordinary.” Johnson recommends keeping a bucket or garbage bags on board, along with a pole or net for hard-to-reach trash.

Sharon Seaton and her husband have fished every nook and cranny on Kentucky Lake, always leaving it better than they found it. “When you hook something, you think it’s a huge fish. But if it’s trash, that’s even better,” says Seaton, who reminds boaters to secure their bags. “If your trash sack blows out, you’re not helping. Follow-through is important.”

You don’t have to be on the water to make a difference. A stroll along the shoreline of the river or one of its tributaries can reveal plenty of unwanted food and drink containers, fishing line, and more.  A garbage sack, a pair of gloves and some dedicated pick-up time can make a big difference.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTRB) can make your commitment to the river official with the Adopt-A-River mile program. “Whether you have riverfront property or a location on the water that’s near to your heart, consider stepping up to help at your own pace at whatever river mile you would like,” suggests Kathleen Gibi, executive director of KTRB.

“In return, volunteers receive free supplies to keep their area clean, incentives such as t-shirts and water bottles, plus recognition,” she says. “We all need to be practicing social distancing right now, so let’s do it in a way that will help the environment.”

The #trashtag Challenge

If you like, you can document your efforts on social media by joining a challenge that’s gone viral. The #trashtag challenge is inspiring people to pick up trash and post before and after photos. There are tens of thousands of posts tagged on Instagram and other channels from volunteers who have cleaned up parks, roads and shorelines around the world.

Here’s what you can do to participate:

1. Find an area that needs cleaning or maintenance

2. Take a before photo

3. Take action and do it!

4. Take an after photo and post it to social media with #trashstag

It’s a way to show how you are making your community a better place.

Learn more about volunteering at TVA here.