While visitors to Miami Beach were out in force to soak up the sun during spring break, one decided to put his holiday on hold to help clean up.
Nineteen-year-old Joshua Caraway, a tourist visiting Florida from Atlanta, Georgia, was spotted by local media outlet WSVN cleaning up garbage on a crowded beach Saturday afternoon.
Caraway, who is in university studying biology with the hopes of becoming an exotic animal specialist, says that he felt compelled to help clean up after seeing the state of the beach last weekend.
“I love animals, I also love the environment,” Caraway explained in an interview with CTVNews.ca. “That’s why I like to help.”
Garbage being left behind is a serious problem for Miami Beach every spring break, with thousands of alcohol-fuelled revelers flooding the city’s beaches with beer cans, glass bottles, food wrappers, and more.
On his first night in Miami Beach, Caraway and his friends hit the crowded beaches.
“I was with my friends and I was just seeing all the trash on the beach,” he said. “I was looking at it, and I was like ‘ugh.’”
Rather than just standing by, Caraway took it upon himself to start cleaning up, picking up trash as he walked and holding onto it until he found a nearby garbage can.
The next day they returned to the beach, and Caraway doubled his efforts. He overheard an announcement saying that anyone who helped would receive a free t-shirt.
While he didn’t want the shirt, he took the opportunity to try and get his friends involved.
“I asked my friends ‘hey, do you all wanna go help me?’” Caraway said. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t as enthused as he was about spending their vacation cleaning up the beach.
“So I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it by myself.’”
Grabbing a garbage bag from a nearby guard tower, Caraway spent about 45 minutes cleaning the beach, filling up three bags with trash.
“I didn’t want the trash to blow into the ocean,” Caraway said. “Animals consuming it, dying from it…that’s terrible.”
Caraway’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed, with Miami Beach Police officers going to speak to him, thanking him for his work.
“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,” MBPD Major Paul Acosta wrote on Twitter.
The photos of Caraway went viral on social media, with commenters praising Caraway for his actions.
“Thank so much young man! I wish there were more like you!” one commenter wrote.
“What a sweet young man. Usually some tourists treat our beaches like cr*p. This is refreshing,” another agreed.
Several users have tweeted the story to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, in an attempt to get her to bring him on the show.
Caraway says that while the attention is nice, he’s more excited that the story may inspire people, letting them know that just one person can make a difference.
“I love all the positivity – I love how this message is spreading,” he said. “It makes people more aware of what they can do.”