Environmentalist Caulin Donaldson Takes “Influencer” to a Whole New Level
In a sea of influencers promoting everything from the hottest brands to the trendiest new tech, one TikTok star is proving that social media can be an equally powerful force in promoting environmentalism. 25-year-old Florida native Caulin Donaldson (or better known by his TikTok handle, @trashcaulin) is making waves on the platform by practicing and preaching a profoundly simple message: pick up your trash. Now, with over 1.4 million followers on the app, Donaldson has been able to influence millions, bringing a fresh and optimistic take on environmentalism to a whole new generation. TikTok Star Caulin Donaldson
Donaldson’s journey began while working at a local cabana and Jet Ski rental service on St. Petersburg’s pristine coastline. It was here that Donaldson began to notice a disturbing pattern emerging on the shores he called home: “It was just fascinating to me,” recalled Donaldson, “ so many people would come out to the beach each morning, saying how much they loved the beach and how beautiful they thought it was, only to leave behind a mountain of trash right on the sand. It really bothered me.” Soon after, Donaldson began taking to social media and YouTube to voice his concerns and found immediate support from friends and family; it was not until moving his content to TikTok, however, that the young activist began to see the movement he had created.
“I started a video series where every day I went and picked up trash. I did this for 500 days, consecutively. That is when my page began to take off.” Soon after, Donaldson amassed a significant following on the app, granting him the now iconic moniker, @trashcaulin. From humble beginnings, Donaldson soon expanded beyond simple trash pick-up videos and started covering pressing environmental issues in his community. His recent videos exploring the devastating impact of red tide (fish kill) on Florida’s coastline has garnered hundreds of thousands of views, launching collaborations with renowned environmental organizations like 4Ocean and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. In a matter of months, Donaldson found himself firmly cemented in the heart of TikTok’s ever-expanding environmentalist community. TikTok Star Caulin Donaldson
However, the source of Donaldson’s success on the app wasn’t just his ability to fearlessly cover and actively combat the issues of pollution and decay on Florida’s Gulf coast, but it was the tone he took to his approach that helped separate him from the pack. “The best way to fight this is with positivity. I want to paint environmentalism in a fun and optimistic way. I want to normalize it.” In a space where environmentalism is so often met with a doomsday mentality, Donaldson maintains an enduring spirit of optimism, reminding his followers that change is possible—and it’s not too late. It’s this positivity that has helped propel him to the forefront of people’s feeds and a factor that he believes is essential in fighting the issues plaguing our planet. “I was just one person picking up trash, and now I am able to influence millions, but it only takes one person to make a difference. I truly believe that.”
“I was just one person picking up trash, and now I am able to influence millions, but it only takes one person to make a difference. I truly believe that.” TikTok Star Caulin Donaldson
Aside from continuing to produce content for his rapidly growing audience, Donaldson also continuously strives to educate himself. When asked what motivates him, the young activist noted that it is the pursuit of knowledge driving his actions. “In the environmental space,” says Donaldson, “everyone has a different approach, so I’m constantly trying to evolve as a creator, learn more and bring that knowledge to a whole new generation.” And with a plethora of social media platforms at his disposal, he has been able to connect with audiences both young and old, making his multigenerational impact a true testament to the power technology has in combating our planet’s problems. TikTok Star Caulin Donaldson
If you aren’t following Donaldson on TikTok yet, we highly recommend you do so. The planet-saving savant is already expanding his ecological empire, going so far as to catch the eyes of celebrities, namely Winter, the real-life star of the movie “Dolphin Tale” and the world’s first animal to ever utilize a prosthetic limb. Whether you’re watching him battle beach-cleaning robots in a trash cleanup competition or simply marveling at his tenacity and enduring positivity, @trashcaulin is changing the landscape of environmentalism, and the world simply cannot get enough. “I want people to see that anyone can do this and anyone can make a difference because this is something that everyone needs to be a part of.”