INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. — After deciding to rent out her Indian Rocks Beach home for a week and finding everything from sand toys to food left behind, resident Diane Daniel knew there had to be a better way.
“I almost threw things away I shouldn’t have,” Daniel said. “I just stopped myself and went, ‘You need to look and see where you can donate these things.’”
According to AirDNA, Indian Rocks Beach has roughly 1,000 short-term rental listings. As a town of only about 3,600 residents, Daniel realized there had to be so much waste just coming from these Airbnb listings alone.
She decided to launch Vacation Donations, a one-stop resource for where to donate or repurpose items commonly left behind after a Florida beach vacation.
“I’m basically a resource to have people donate items when they leave,” she said.
In order to raise awareness, Daniel dresses in her sandwich board that’s fixed with the Vacation Donations logo and carries her backpack of magnets as she walks the beach. She calls it “sandwiching” and says her goal is to get people to stop and ask questions.
“Sometimes I come to the beach and make a spectacle of myself, but it’s all for a good cause,” she said.
Daniel’s goal is to have the area’s short-term rental owners post her magnets and checkout sheets with donation resources in their Airbnbs so that way visitors will have ideas on where they can easily go to donate items before leaving. She also wants these property owners to have a plan to donate items like food, toys and beach chairs that will inevitably be left behind.
“It’s up to the people who own these places. They’re the ones making the profit,” she said. “I feel they’re the ones who should take the extra effort.”
Daniel hopes that a small change to how both property owners and renters think will make a big difference. She plans to expand Vacation Donations to surrounding Pinellas County beach communities in the coming months.