In the midst of hundreds of swimsuit-clad tourists leisurely lounging on Miami Beach for spring break, one teen hailing from Atlanta was spotted picking up trash on the littered shores.
Like many college students, Joshua Caraway, a freshman studying biology at the University of West Georgia, made the trek to the Sunshine State from Stone Mountain, Ga. with four friends to hit up the beach on their spring break. When Caraway arrived at the Miami beachfront on March 23, he was astonished to find the shores littered with bottles, plastic, flyers, red cups and more.
So instead of lying amongst the litter and his fellow spring breakers, the 19-year-old began to walk along the beach to pick up the trash by hand.
“I saw a lot of trash on the beach and that compelled me to start cleaning,” Caraway tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that he’s been passionate about animals and the environment since childhood. “If it’s not cleaned up that trash would get washed in the ocean which is terrible for our Earth and sea animals.”
According to WSVN, Caraway filled up at least three trash bags full of debris left behind by beachgoers. Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) Major Paul Acosta noticed the young man’s good deed and walked across the beach to meet Caraway and thank him for his cleaning efforts. When Acosta asked spring breaker why he was picking up trash instead of relaxing with his friends, Caraway told the officer because “he love[s] animals and wants to take care of their home and ours.”
The enormous heaps of garbage left by spring break visitors is nothing new to Miami Beach residents. In 2016, following an event called Floatopia, Miami Beach was trashed. The city cleaned up nine 30-cubic-yard-dumpsters’ worth of garbage, Miami New Times reports. City officials estimated that the Floatopia event attracted upwards of 100,000 people to the Miami Beach shores— thousands more than the city’s 92,000 residents.
As thousands of college students across the country to flock to this hot spring break destination, Miami Beach city officials have been working to manage the enormous amounts of garbage these tourists inevitably leave in their wake. (According to Project Know, Miami Beach is one of the top 10 spring break destinations in the U.S.) Following the unprecedented devastation of the Miami Beach shores in 2016, the city launched the Keep Miami Beach Clean initiative in February 2017 to help combat the inevitable spring break litter.
So I told Joshua, you’ve been picking up trash for a long time instead of hanging out and listening to music. I asked why. He says, he love animals and wants to take care of their home and ours. Boom👊🏽 #Thankyou for caring about our environment and @MiamiBeachNews https://t.co/rZaC2AaGk5
— Paul Acosta 🇺🇸🇵🇷 (@PaulAcostaMBPD) March 23, 2019
That’s why Acosta took to social media to praise Caraway’s good deed online. The officer later wrote on Twitter, “So I told Joshua, you’ve been picking up trash for a long time instead of hanging out and listening to music… Thank you for caring about our environment and Miami Beach.”
However, he wasn’t the only one— a tweet from a local reporter with photos of the Georgia teen in action went viral, garnering over 3,000 likes.
Happening now: Meet Joshua from Atlanta (@boppay), he’s going through the Miami Beach crowds picking up trash. @MiamiBeachPD’s @PaulAcostaMBPD met with him to thank him for his efforts 👏🏼👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/3ypXQL7tHT
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) March 23, 2019
Even Caraway’s role model, animal specialist Mike Holston a.k.a. “Tarzann,” caught wind of his good deeds, praising Caraway for being a leader on his Instagram account with over five million followers.
My role model @Therealtarxann posted me on his insta story and this real has me in shock. I have a strong love for animals and plan to be a animal specialist as well. I look up to this man and for him to recognize me is just so cool .. this made my whole entire day pic.twitter.com/V4zd5u0Y4s
— josh 🧞♂️ (@boppay) March 24, 2019
And while many Miami Beach residents usually lament the rowdy spring break crowd and the garbage they leave behind, many commented they would gladly welcome Caraway back to their shores.
“What a sweet young man. Usually some tourists treat our beaches like crap. This is refreshing,” one Miami Beach resident replied on Twitter.
“He is welcomed back to Miami any time! I got nothing but mad respect for this dude,” wrote another Twitter user.
Although people have even begun to offer money to donate to Caraway’s college tuition, he says he’s “just happy to help the environment” and hopes to encourage others to do the same.
“I hope people will take from this is you can always do something to help your environment no matter if you’re on vacation or not— there is something you can always do,” Caraway tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I hope I motivated you guys to help clean our Earth too.”
Glad to help the environment❤️ I hope I encourage others to do the same. https://t.co/Scgm0Lvfs5
— josh 🧞♂️ (@boppay) March 23, 2019