hand holding phone with tiktok app open

New generations have taken to social media for their activism and one of the greatest focuses is helping the planet. North Carolina native Daniel Toben has launched a TikTok campaign to encourage people to pick up trash all around the world. He has spent a majority of quarantine going out and cleaning up parks with trash bags, inspiring others to do the same in a safe and socially distant way.

Toben’s trash collection journey began long before the pandemic, though. Two years ago, he noticed a littered storm drain and decided to clean it up. From there, he started cleaning up different areas in his local neighborhood enough that it became a habit and a personal mission. He found that he enjoyed doing clean-ups as a way to spend time outdoors, get exercise, and even spend time with loved ones as he started inviting friends, family, and co-workers to join him.

Most importantly, Toben felt motivated to continue because it simply, “feels good to do good.” Now, he’s in the process of starting a non-profit named The Earth Stewards to encourage people around the world to clean up, too. He has cleaned up around 8,000 bags of litter in his lifetime and is now inviting his viewers on TikTok to do the same.

Talking Trash on TikTok



♬ original sound – Daniel Toben

In the short clip, Toben narrates over videos of himself picking up trash, hoping to inspire those watching to follow in his footsteps. He calls viewers into action, saying, “I think it would be an awesome thing to show the older generation what the younger generation is capable of, and be a way of us all saying we have got this and we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The response? Toben’s video has gone viral on TikTok and many viewers are excited to join the movement. The video already has more than 250,000 likes and well over 700,000 views. 

“I have gotten hundreds of messages, pictures, and videos, from people on social media telling me that I inspired them to clean up their community,” Toben told Planet Home in an interview.

Even if trash collection isn’t another person’s mission, he hopes the video will inspire others to find what moves them when it comes to taking action for the planet.

“Do what moves you.”

– Daniel Toben

International Impact

Commenters have pledged to join the cause from across the globe, ranging from Japan to Germany. Viewers are tagging friends and saying, “Wanna go hang out and pick up litter this weekend? We can make it a game to see who fills their bag the fastest?” Others pledge to join him enthusiastically with, “I literally think about doing this on my street all the time. This is a sign. Thank you.”

Toben’s campaign is helping the planet, one bag of trash at a time. He has inspired the younger generations to take advantage of this time in quarantine to protect our planet. People have banded together to support one another in making a difference. Other accounts have posted videos of their 52 bag pickup journey, picking up trash at sunrise, and their children choosing to contribute to the cause.

Daniel Toben’s work shows us the power of social media as a tool for advocacy and community work. We can take to the feeds to make great change and improve the world we live in. If every person with a TikTok were to pick up a bag of trash, that would make a huge difference.


Pickin up trash at sunrise #savetheplanet #litter #trash #pollution #fyp

♬ original sound – Daniel Toben

You Can Make a Difference, Too!

When asked if he had any advice for young people wanting to make a difference, Toben said, “I think my biggest message for young kids is that you don’t have to be in a position of power or have a degree to be a leader in your community.”

“I think my biggest message for young kids is that you don’t have to be in a position of power or have a degree to be a leader in your community.”

– Daniel Toben

He added that you should also be safe, make sure to bring the proper equipment (such as gloves) with you on your clean-up. Toben also believes that you shouldn’t be afraid to use social media to share your actions. There’s a misconception that doing so could be seen as “boastful,” but social media can be a great way to inspire others or get connected with a like-minded community.

“I think any young person should just go for it, try it!” Toben said. “There’s this idea that you should never share (on social media) when you do something good, but I think that’s counterproductive when it comes to bettering a community.”

If you were inspired by Toben’s video and his passion for helping the planet, I hope you will begin picking up trash yourselves and encourage others to do the same. Let’s clean up our Planet Home!

To learn more about reducing waste, read more about creative waste solutions or how to go zero-waste.