In a way, the Instagram page @peterpicksuptrash could be considered an influencer account—only, it’s not trying to convince you to buy an overpriced handbag or trendy, unproven health supplement. It wants to inspire you to clean up garbage.
For years, Peter, who works a corporate job and prefers to remain mononymous, would spend his lunch break going on walks around the office park, picking up trash whenever it crossed his path. On a number of occasions, people would thank him—which was puzzling, because right after they would, they’d walk by a piece of trash without a second thought.
That’s when the idea for an Instagram account came about. Maybe social media, he thought, could provide enough peer pressure for others to do their part.
He wasn’t wrong: After starting the account two years ago, he’s amassed nearly 6,000 followers so far, simply by posting images of his left hand holding detritus like coffee cups, cigarette boxes and, since COVID, face masks, alongside the caption: “This was very easy to do.”
Of the 300-plus posts he’s shared, Peter estimates they document only 10% of the trash he’s picked up since starting this experiment. The point, he says, is to inspire others to take the extra few seconds to pick up a stray piece of plastic the next time they see it and throw it away.
“There’s no time investment to pick up a straw or a plastic wrapper,” he says. “Individuals are the biggest difference makers on the planet. Anyone can be @peterpicksuptrash.”