Challenge: Can Tampa businesses skip the straw?


Representatives from the Florida Aquarium, Bank OZK, along with your friends at That’s So Tampa are banding together for the Skip the Straw initiative.

That’s right, we’re going full Planeteer, Tampa, and the power is definitely yours.

The push to pass on using a straw the next time you go out for coffee or dinner is meant to help keep our waterways and sea life safe from plastic waste.

Billions of tons of plastic wind up in our oceans

In 2017, National Geographic reported that the world is currently dealing with 9.2 billion tons of plastic, of which 6.9 billion tons have become waste. More staggering is the fact that 6.3 billion were never recycled.

In 2015, University of Georgia professor Jenna Jambeck estimated that anywhere between 5.3 million and 14 million tons of plastic wind up in the ocean each year from just the coastal regions of the planet.

No, this isn’t meant to be a ban on plastic straws. Customers can of course request one — and we understand for some a straw is medically necessary. However, for those who can choose, this is an opportunity to join a movement looking to make small strides toward a larger goal.

Skip the straw challenge hopes to inspire the region 

“We’re excited to share this challenge with Tampa Bay and believe it will inspire a welcomed region-wide change,” said Florida Aquarium CEO Roger Germann, “Together, Skip the Straw will have a positive impact on our local waterways and protect the animals and people that thrive because of them.”

Businesses looking to show off their commitment can request a “Skip the Straw” decal for their establishments at SkiptheStrawFL.com.

Not only does plastic waste harm the turtles, manatees, rays and other beautiful aquatic life all around Florida, the waste itself remains in our waters for hundreds of years. We don’t want our iced coffee on the go to be a problem our great grandkids have to deal with.

Creating a sustainable community for small businesses

The U.S. alone creates 207 pounds of plastic per person, per year — and plastic straws are among the 10 most commonly collected items during beach cleanups worldwide.

Small businesses will find it difficult to grow if the eco-system they’re entering isn’t sustainable. That sentiment fueled Bank OZK’s involvement in the movement.

“Skip the Straw is integral to the continued growth of small businesses in the Tampa Bay region,” said Alan Randolph, Bank OZK Florida President. “Our beautiful waterfront parks, beaches and rivers make this area such a draw for young, adventurous talent. To do that, we have to take care of our city and address these pressing environmental issues.”

Hundreds of businesses skip the straw in St. Pete

More than 200 businesses have already made headway in significantly reducing the amount of single use plastics at their establishments. Dexter Fabian, co-founder of I Love the Burg, worked exhaustively with city officials like Gina Driscoll to sway businesses to move past straws.

“It was only natural to take the challenge across the bridge to Tampa,” said Fabian. “The business community has fully embraced the challenge and their customers have been receptive, too. We now have more than two-hundred businesses working to move past single use plastics through reusable to-go containers and even upcycled tote bags.”

Hopefully that enthusiasm is mirrored in Tampa.

Plastic waste expected to double by 2025

If we continue to do nothing, the number of plastic dumped into the ocean by the U.S. is expected to double by 2025. That’s roughly 18 million tons of plastic.

So, the next time you’re out to eat in Tampa, skip the straw. That soda fresca at Bodega in Seminole Heights, or that large iced latte from Kahwa tastes just as sweet when sipped straight from the cup. Plus, you never needed a straw to enjoy a Cigar City brew, why use one for your water.

One simple solution is to bring your own cup or tumbler out with you. Hitting up Duckweed for a few must have snacks? Bring your own tote bag. Want to take some of those goodies you were sampling at Sparkman Wharf home? Consider investing in your own takeout containers.

Get social with the skip the straw challenge

Skip the Straw’s power resides in the resolve of the Tampa community. Show us how much you love the beautiful Tampa landscape by using the tag #SkiptheStraw. Show us how it’s making a difference in your life and your business.

Have you seen local businesses work to cut down on single use plastic? Let us know how in the comments!

If you’re out in Tampa and see some inspired measures taken by residents and or business owners to move away from plastic waste, make sure to share it! Tag @FloridaAquarium, @ThatsSoTampa and @SkiptheStrawFL so we can all share the love.

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