Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman May 21, 2019

Photo blaming environmentalists for trashing a park on Earth Day is really from a football tailgate

A viral photo making the rounds on social media claims that environmentalists littered a California park on Earth Day.

But the image wasn’t taken in California, nor does it depict the aftermath of an Earth Day event.

Text below the viral photo reads, "Earthday in California. This is how environmentalists left a park in California after an Earthday celebration."

The image was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The photo began to pop up online shortly after Earth Day celebrations on April 22. The image isn’t fake — but it is miscaptioned.

The photograph was captured nearly 10 years ago to show trash that was left from a University of Georgia tailgate party following the school’s home opener football game against South Carolina on Sept. 12, 2009.

Featured Fact-check

A reverse-image search shows that the photo was published in a story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in September 2009 to illustrate the trashed lawn. The newspaper reported that crews collected about "70 tons of trash" following the tailgate.

A local radio station also uses the same photo, credited to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in a 2011 story about the university’s tailgating policies. The caption explains the scene was "in front of the University of Georgia Law Library one Sunday morning in September 2009, the aftermath of tailgating activities during a football game the night before."

In response, the university tightened rules around tailgate parties but relaxed them in 2011.

Our ruling

A viral photo that shows trash strewn across a lawn comes with the claim that the littering was caused by environmentalists after an Earth Day celebration in California.

The photo has nothing to do with environmentalists, California or Earth Day. It was captured in 2009 following a tailgate party at the University of Georgia.

We rate this False.

Share the Facts
PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Says a photo of a park covered in trash was left behind by "environmentalists" after an Earth Day celebration in California.
Monday, May 20, 2019

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Samantha Putterman

Photo blaming environmentalists for trashing a park on Earth Day is really from a football tailgate

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up