Welcome to the June edition of Coffee Talk with the Darby Crew. This month, we caught up with adventurer, and founder of #trashtag, Steven Reinhold. Prepare to feel inspired!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Steven. Why don’t we kick off the interview by sharing your full-time occupation with us?
I’m the owner of the Appalachian Adventure Company, an ambassador for an array of outdoor companies and work in various construction trades—primarily stone masonry.
You’re a self-proclaimed Adventure Philanthropist. Can you share with us what that is exactly and why you consider yourself one?
An Adventure Philanthropist is someone who finds ways to pursue positivity through their adventures. Whether it’s wilderness mentoring, joining environmental movements, or volunteering.
Examples of some well-known Adventure Philanthropists (and two of my personal favorites) are Alex Honnold and Stacy Bare. Alex is lighting up the world through the Honnold Foundation and Stacy is opening the eyes of many through his Adventure Not War project. I’m also a huge fan of Caroline Gleich who started the Big Mountain Dreams Foundation and Katie Boué who founded the Outdoor Advocacy Project!
Personally, I think it’s important to give back to the communities where we adventure. Following this ethos has greatly enriched my life and brought meaning to otherwise self-serving adventures.
Tell us a bit about your guide service, Appalachian Adventure Company.
The idea for the Appalachian Adventure Company stemmed from continued involvement with Big City Mountaineers. For several years I worked with them raising funds through their Summit For Someone program. We climbed some of the most iconic peaks in the United States while raising funds to send urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips. On each trip, we climbed with the leading guide company and I thought, “Hey, this is fun, I should open up my own guiding company in NC!” At about that time, I met my business partner, Steve Yocom, and the rest is history. Now, we specialize in content creation for outdoor companies and publications. We also guide specialty trips—including fundraisers, photography workshops, and custom adventures in the Pisgah National Forest.
We first met you when you came up with #trashtag. The story of how you were inspired to start the movement is so great. Could you share it with us and a bit about how #trashtag has grown to what it is today?
Back in 2015, I was on a road trip to California when a receipt flew out of my window. I was devastated. Right then, I decided to pick up 100 pieces of trash to make up for the mistake. During the redemption process, the idea for #trashtag came to fruition.
My dream was to inspire others to pick up trash, start using #trashtag to share pictures of when they did, and start an environmental movement using social media! That’s when I met the team at Darby Communications. You all were working with UCO Gear, who I was doing some work with as well, and we all collaborated to launch the initial project to the public with amazing success! A few years later, the cleanup effort “went viral,” spreading to nearly every country on Earth, and it’s still going strong!
The thing about #trashtag is it’s really fun and super easy to participate. All people have to do is pick up some trash and then post a picture of their cleanup efforts on social media using #trashtag in the caption. Any day is a great day to #trashtag, but recently #trashtag partnered with two organizations, National Cleanup Day and World Cleanup Day, to promote cleanups across the planet. The 2020 World Cleanup Day will take place on September 19. Those who are interested, can find a cleanup event or register their own event HERE.
If it was a gorgeous day in NC where would we find you?
I am obsessed with Southern Appalachia’s Mountaintop Balds—they are my greener pastures!
You’ve traveled all over. If you could only choose one place, which would be your favorite?
This is never an easy question, but I’m going to pick the Annapurna Region of the Himalayas in Nepal as my favorite place on Earth. The Himalayan Mountains are breathtaking and the Nepali people bring great joy to my heart with their kind hearts and infectious smiles!
What’s currently on your playlist?
Tyler Childers is my go-to. I would listen to him sing the alphabet. I love having background music on when I’m working so I listen to a lot of classical music, some chill-step, and one of my all-time favorites is the Red Buddha station on Pandora.
Are you a podcast guy? If so, what are you listening to these days?
I am traditionally not a podcast guy—their conversations tend to interrupt the running conversation within my head! However, recently I had the opportunity to appear on the G.O. Get Outside Podcast, and ever since I have really enjoyed diving into their archives. Here’s a link to my episode—give it a listen and learn more about my outdoor endeavors.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to travel extensively, but who may be hesitant?
There are two ways to go here; start small or just go ahead and jump in with both feet. I find merit in both approaches! If you want to start small, I would suggest taking a short road trip. Nothing breeds a sense of adventure like time spent on the open road. Taking the opposite approach and going big, I would suggest taking your dream trip sooner rather than later. Traveling and adventuring provide some of our greatest growth opportunities and it should never be delayed until retirement! Every trip or adventure starts with the decision to go. That decision occurs way before that cliche “first step.” All you have to do is decide to go and then you will figure out the rest.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a homebody at heart. I love taking trips, but no matter where I go, at some point I get homesick and dream of just being back home with my wife and all of life’s creature comforts.
Is there an upcoming project you are particularly excited about?
The co-founder of The Appalachian Adventure Company, Steve Yocom—along with his better half, Jordan Meeks—are joining Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour! They will get to travel across the country giving presentations, leading hikes, and representing Backpacker Magazine at festivals and events. I get to be their biggest fan, help guide some of the hikes, and join in on some of the content creation processes. I am so stoked for them and honored to get to help!