The mess left behind by Floatopia, captured in a now viral Facebook video, made national and then international headlines. While being recognized for such a trashy situation is unfortunate, there is this silver lining: the outrage tells us that people still care.
When people saw the 20,000 pounds of litter left behind by partygoers on the Ocean Park area beaches along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, they did not look away and think, “Not my problem.” They were outraged. That tells us most people know that littering is wrong, and they want litter-free beaches and trash-free waterways. Virginia Beach Public Works staff reported that many volunteers showed up in the wee hours of Memorial Day to help clean up the mess. While the litter had been mostly removed by the quick efforts of the Public Works crew, we know that people still care. That’s good to know.
So what are the lessons to be learned from Floatopia?If you’re hosting a beachfront event anywhere in Hampton Roads, please contact the city or county for assistance.
You may be required to secure an event permit and often times the locality will be able to provide extra trash receptacles, portable toilets and police/EMT services to ensure everyone’s safety.
Social media is powerful. The Floatopia events have grown in size thanks to social media. Unexpected crowds can leave event organizers and local officials ill-prepared. If you promote an event on social media, be prepared to handle the crowds.
We all have a personal responsibility to prevent and clean up litter.
While much of the fault has been levied against party organizers, each Floatopia participant was responsible for his or her trash. They made individual choices to leave behind busted tents, deflated rafts and empty beer cans when it was time to go home.