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New Local Business Aims to Save Turtles, One Straw at a Time 

The Story Behind Turtle Buddy 

Step into smoothie icon Xtreme Juice on South Dale Mabry, and you’ll notice something new: The straws have Earth-friendly swagger. Smoothies require sippers, but owners Karrie and Chris Mueller no longer cringe at the thought of all that plastic. The founders of Turtle Buddy are spreading alternative straws throughout the Bay Area and the nation.  

“When that video showing turtles choking on plastic just about broke the Internet, we really felt a desire to act,” Chris says. “Obviously, the smoothie industry is going to need straws, but we knew there had to be a better choice.” 

Turtle-Buddy-Straws-biodegradable-strawsThe challenge was finding a straw sturdy enough to withstand the thickest smoothie but still biodegrade. Paper didn’t pass the durability test, but PLA straws proved a worthy alternative. PLA is chemically compostable and structurally similar to classic plastic. Unlike conventional straws, which take up to 500 years to break down, PLA is made of cornstarch. It’s also chemically compostable. 

Patrons of Xtreme Juice now sip concoctions like Mango Madness and Cherry Mountain through Turtle Buddy PLA sippers, and the movement is spreading. Turtle Buddy offers PLA and bamboo straws to other establishments through, and that means custom wrappers, branded product and, we can only guess, plenty of happy turtles. As an overall goal, Turtle Buddy is committed to the cleanup of the Pacific garbage patch, a massive floating mess located between California and Hawaii. 

“We donate to a variety of organizations that remove trash from our beaches and oceans,” Chris says. “As a company, we pledge to help with general trash collection as well.” 

Turtle Buddy collects 100 pounds of trash each week. And the merchandise available on the website comes with a perk: For each item sold, the company will properly dispose of a five pound bucket of trash. Even the detritus on the side of the road can end up in our oceans, the Muellers say; every bit makes a difference. Their plan is to tackle the issue one straw at a time. 

For more information about Turtle Buddy straws and to learn about the organization, visit Keep up with Turtle Buddy successes on Instagram at @turtlebuddystraws and on Facebook at 

Related: Ways to Volunteer as a family in Tampa Bay

How you and your family can help keep plastics out of our oceans: 

  • Recycle when possible. Conventional plastic straws are made of petroleum and cannot be recycled. 
  • Select straw alternatives that biodegrade. 
  • Teach children to dispose of trash in the correct manner. 
  • Find a local beach cleanup – make it a family effort! 
  • See who in your family can generate the least amount of trash.
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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