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Skip the Straw Campaign with The Florida Aquarium

Originally published in the April 2019 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

A straw, a plastic bag, a water bottle—all of these might seem like conveniences you can’t live without.

But the truth is that these objects contribute to the nearly 9 million tons of plastic that enters the ocean from land each year. A wave of plastic has been washing into the sea, and if the current rate continues, that number is expected to double by 2025.

One local organization is trying to do something about this. The Florida Aquarium has launched the Skip the Straw campaign to help stem the plastic tidal wave that threatens our seas.

Not only are these plastic objects harmful because sea birds, marine mammals, fish and turtles can swallow them, the physical build-up of plastic pollution along shorelines can have both negative physical and chemical impacts on wildlife. The accumulation of plastic debris in mangroves can prevent the natural ‘flushing’ of these areas during tidal changes, drastically changing the chemical composition of the surrounding water. This can have dramatic and devastating effects both on the mangroves and the baby fish and other animals that use mangroves as a nursery and sanctuary.

Plastics can travel beyond mangroves onto corals reefs and block out the life-sustaining rays of sun the coral needs to live and grow. The plastic can physically damage corals’ delicate tissue if it comes in direct physical contact.

When larger plastics are in the natural environmental, they eventually break down into tiny bits called ‘microplastics’ that can be ingested by smaller animals which includes corals, oysters, clams and even fish that mistaken eat the plastic bits.

How can the Skip the Straw campaign help?  

  • Ask for a  paper straw  when you order a drink or purchase  reusable stainless steel or glass straws and keep them with you everywhere you go.
  • Educate friends, family and anyone you come in contact with about the plight of plastic pollution, empowering them to make impactful decisions and form habits that help to protect the natural environment.
  • Take part in a shoreline or beach cleanup as a family. Whether you join a cleanup with The Florida Aquarium or any other organization, picking up plastics and other pollution while taking a walk on the beach or down the street contributes to global efforts to reduce single-use plastics’ detrimental effect on the natural environment.
  • Become a volunteer with The Florida Aquarium, participating in events throughout the year to keep Tampa Bay’s blue backyard pollution free and beautiful for future generations. Visit www.flaquarium.org/volunteer to learn more.

Visit www.flaquarium.org/skipthestraw to learn more about the Skip the Straw Challenge and learn more ways to make an enormous impact on the oceans.

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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