We aim to end our society's dependence on single-use. Single-use plastic bags, straws, plastic flatware, and polystyrene (styrofoam) take-out containers damage our vibrant community and our beautiful blue and green spaces. They kill marine life, clog waterways, and waste millions of civic dollars in cleanup costs. Plastic pollution on the beach is shown to drive down tourist revenue, too.
Recycling is a necessity but not the answer to this problem. Pollution prevention is the key. Research indicates that half of all litter is unintended, and the Environmental Protection Agency states that only a third of our waste is recycled. Single-use plastics must be cut off at the source. Reduce, reuse, recycle; and join us to Rise Above Plastics!
Our Coalition envisions a future where coastal and marine debris no longer exists; where single-use plastics are removed from daily life; where our entire coast is protected.
This vision is pursued through research, activism, and education, by engaging citizens, the local economy, and our community leaders.
Who We Are
The Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition is comprised of grassroots organizations and passionate individuals who are dedicated to fostering stewardship sustainability in our esteemed Florida ecosystem for the present and the future.
We strive to foster a culture that is free from plastics pollution by: certifying businesses to be ocean friendly; reducing single use-plastic dependence and usage in our daily lives; encouraging the use of plastic alternatives; and educating the community about ecological and economic ramifications of plastic debris on coastlines.
Our thousands of members, followers, and volunteers unite with unique experiences in advocacy, research, and education to protect the Suncoast area of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. We promote an eco-friendly and inspired community that thrives on an ecologically sound environment.
Our Tampa Bay home is a watershed with the largest open water estuary in the state of Florida to the east.
Tampa Bay encompasses 400 square miles of open water, with a 2,200- square-mile drainage basin. To the west is the Gulf of Mexico, which is characterized by unique geology and biodiversity due to its warm waters and diverse habitats. Our gulf fisheries are some of the most productive in the world. Tourism and recreation are also vital to our local economy. There are over 620,000 jobs, yielding over $9 billion in tourism and recreation wages paid each year in the Gulf Coast Region.
Plastic does not biodegrade. Items made from plastic photodegrade, meaning they break down into smaller and smaller pieces when exposed to light. These tiny pieces leach toxins into surrounding sea water and soil, and are ingested by animals throughout the natural food web. In 2015, scientists discovered that plastic pieces degrade to such a small size that plankton are able to ingest it. This means plastic is entering our waterways and food web at the lowest levels. The toxic chemicals that make up plastic are then free to bio accumulate and persist within our environment for a long time to come.
What We Do
We collaborate with local environmental organizations, businesses, artists, citizens, and our local government to reduce the source of plastic pollution and mitigate the harmful effects of marine debris throughout our precious Tampa Bay coastal and beach areas. We educate the public on ways to reduce plastic usage, we partner with businesses to certify them as Ocean Friendly, and we advocate for sustainable policy at the city, county, and state level.
How We Do It
We consult with local businesses to share environmentally-friendly practices and provide plastic-free alternatives for their operations,
We run the "Ocean Friendly Restaurant" Program, a nationally-recognized, reliable way to ensure businesses are doing their part to reduce marine plastic debris,
We provide research and advocacy to elected officials to protect our wildlife, green spaces, and tourism economy through smart legislation,
We promote a culture of caring for the environment through young adult and childhood education,
We empower leaders and residents to produce a community-based structure for advocacy and activism, and
We grow our community-based coalition to include new voices, engage St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, and Sarasota at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum so that we can work together to Protect What We Love.