REDINGTON SHORES, Fla. — One Redington Shores man is making a big impact, one short TikTok video at a time. Now, his good deeds are inspiring a global mission to deter littering.
Caulin Donaldson has a goal: To collect pieces of trash from the beach every single day this year and to take people along for the journey on TikTok. It’s all sparked by his conversations with out-of-town visitors while working for his family’s parachute and beach chair rental business in St. Pete Beach.
“People would come up to me and be like ‘this is my favorite beach in the world’ and then they would leave all their trash right in the sand. I never understood why you would treat your favorite place in the world like that,” Donaldson said.
In his videos on the social media platform, he makes picking up litter on the shoreline fun like taking on challenges from his followers to find a certain number of cigarette butts or discover some type of forgotten treasure.
Throughout his journey, he discovered one type of trash that caught his attention: Plastic beach toys.
“Shovels, buckets, little toy figurines, beach balls,” Donaldson said pointing to the items he has collected. “Originally, I started a trunk of treasures where I put them in my trunk of my car but then my trunk filled up,” he explained.
Donaldson turned to his 1.4 million TikTok followers for a solution and together they came up with a take a toy, leave a toy box. It’s a similar concept to the take a book, leave a book boxes.
Yet, within days, the town of Redington Shores removed it.
Donaldson contacted the leaders in Redington Shores to ask what they needed to do to work together to come up with a solution. He also gathered 5,500+ signatures begging town leaders to allow the take a toy, leave a toy box to stay.
“It was really a blessing in disguise because it prompted me to reach out to my town council and my commissioners and really start this conversation of how can we attack this problem and what solutions will work best?” Donaldson added.
Now, he is working with the town of Redington Shores to try to add more of the boxes out on the sand where they’re more visible. One idea is to cut pickle barrels in half, put them on stakes, and paint them bright colors to attract the attention of beachgoers.
Indian Rocks Beach has a similar take a toy, leave a toy concept for beachgoers to discard of toys they don’t want to take home and allow the next child to play with the items.
The idea is a hit with 1-year-old Octavia and her parents. “I think it would kind of clean up the beaches a little more and keep them cleaner and safer for everybody including the animals,” her mom Alise Randolph explained.
Donaldson is now hearing from people across the world hoping to create similar take a toy, leave a toy boxes, and inspiring millions to take better care of this place we’re lucky enough to call home.
“If you’re out on the beach enjoying it and you think this is a beautiful place, treat it like a beautiful place,” he said with determination.