KC neighbors encouraged by #Trashtag challenge sparking cleanup efforts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new viral challenge called #Trashtag is sweeping social media, encouraging you to take action to clean up neighborhood garbage.

It's been shared nearly a half-million times online and is sparking activism around the world.

Local volunteers committed to continuous clean-up efforts are hoping the challenge pushes others to take action.

Friday brought a long overdue community cleanup in the Historic Northeast. The last major volunteer effort at Cliff Drive Park in October ended with two dumpster loads of debris.

Melissa Estelle enjoys mountain biking through Kansas City's trails, but she said many parks are overrun with garbage.

"It's a lot. You kind of get used to it, but it's a surprising amount," Estelle said.

"It's everything you could imagine. Big things, little things, wrappers, tools, lot of some construction waste like boards and concrete," volunteer John Bordeau said.

Bordeau helped organize Friday's clean-up. The volunteers love seeing the #TrashtagChallenge shedding light on a major issue facing neighborhoods around the globe, including many right here in Kansas City.

It's a problem these Northeast neighbors have been trying to combat for years.

"We'll clean it up, or it'll get cleaned up and then a week later, there's more. It's just really frustrating," Bordeau said.

In Cliff Drive Park, there's the added challenge of an invasive species: honeysuckle. Volunteers have been whacking away at it, pulling it to the curb, and thanks to help from the city Parks Department, they're getting it hauled off for free.

"You have to control it, cut it back, try to get rid of it or it strangles everything else," Bordeau said.

And with each vine cleared away and every garbage bag filled, the volunteers know they're making a difference and hope it inspires you to do the same in your area.

"Whenever I see somebody doing that, it just feels great, you know. You're really being a good neighbor and improving the community," Estelle said.

There are also ongoing talks in the Historic Northeast about closing Cliff Drive to traffic to prevent illegal dumping and potentially installing cameras to keep an eye out for trash trouble.

Kansas City offers neighborhood groups special over-sized blue trash bags for community cleanups, which you can set on the curb and get collected free.

Gravatt Waste Solutions is also offering to collect any #TrashtagChallenge bags free in Lee's Summit, Blue Springs and Greenwood if you tag the company on social media.

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