SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — In the shadows of tall peaks and among the tranquility of the Smoky Mountains, it is man's mark on nature that stands apart as an unwanted blemish on the pristine East Tennessee vistas.
"Beer bottles, paper towels," said Mary Gibson. "It disgusts me really. I don’t know why anyone would want to throw garbage."
Armed with nothing more than a trash bag, Mary and her husband Matthew set out to tackle Tennessee’s trash troubles as a part of the viral #Trashtag Challenge. The new viral challenge encourages people to get out and pick up trash in an effort to help clean up the planet.
"It’s really frustrating and it blows my mind the amount, the sheer amount, of garbage that people just throw over the side of the mountain," said Mary. "I thought this was the best challenge I had seen yet."
In three hours, they tallied up more than a dozen bags worth of garbage picked up inside the national park. A viral challenge like this is about more than getting likes on Facebook, it’s about saving our planet.
"If you see it, take ownership of it," said Matthew. "Even if it’s just a simple bottle on the side of the road, pick it up."
Atop one of the most popular overlooks near Gatlinburg, trash greets visitors with a welcome that’s impossible to ignore.
"I see graffiti and trash around everywhere. I mean, it’s disrespectful really," said Jessica Camacho, an 11-year-old visiting the park with her family from Dallas. "Like smudging a big mop with garbage around."
The goal is for more people to post pictures on social media of litter they pick up with the #trashtag challenge tag.