Microplastics Found in Tampa Bay, Florida

Microplastic Crisis on the Gulf

While packing our bags for the Florida Restaurant Show in Orlando, we heard news that shocked us. Right down the Florida Gulf Coast, scientists discovered massive amounts of microplastics are in Tampa Bay. This is yet another story of scientists finding massive amounts of microplastics in the environment, and it’s not improving. 

At OkStraw Paper Straws, we take this microplastic threat extremely seriously. There’s no telling what long term health effects microplastics will have on people and animals, but they can’t be good. The Tampa Bay microplastics discovery shows us that plastic waste is yet another part of our planet’s environmental crisis. 


The Tampa Bay Area is home to over millions of people
Scientists discovered microplastics in virtually every environment

How Microplastics Were Discovered

Professor David Hastings and his students at Eckerd College made the microplastics discovery, while studying plankton specimens. Hastings wanted to investigate further, and teamed up with Kinsley McEachern, a recent environmental science graduate from the University of Florida St. Petersburg (UFSP). McEachern and Hastings gathered microplastic specimins throughout Tampa Bay, and came to a startling conclusion.

After calculating the size of Florida’s largest estuary, both scientists estimated that 4 billion microplastic pieces litter Tampa Bay’s water, and up 3 trillion cover its sea floor. The sources of these microplastics could be anything, from fishing nets, to plastic bags, plastic straws, and food packaging. 

How Microplastics Hurt Tampa Bay

What does this colossal amount of microplastics mean for Tampa Bay’s ecosystem? UFSP researchers explain that fish and shellfish eat these plankton-sized microplastics, and then become food for marine animals. Microplastics then make their way up the food chain, and end up in seafood that people eat. We at OkStraw know how important a healthly marine environment is for everyone, as we are based in a coastal city. 

Will this microplastic discovery convince cities in Tampa Bay to ban single-use plastics like straws, foodware and bags? Maybe, because other cities like Orlando, Miami Beach and Key West already passed bans. This is a wakeup call for cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg to ban single-use plastics, and heal Tampa Bay.

Marine animals like Sea Turtles are a high risk from plastic waste

For a Plastic-Free Florida

At OkStraw, we’re sadly familiar with microplastics saturating the environment, and Tampa Bay is the latest casualty. We need to rid the world of plastic waste, but this won’t be an easy fight. Plastic straws are just one type of plastic waste, but ditching them for paper straws is a no brainer. Plastic straws are almost impossible to recycle, they break down into microplastics, and they kill marine animals. 

We at OkStraw wage our battle against environmentally destructive plastic straws with our industry-leading paper straws. With unmatched longevity and toughness for any drink from bubble tea to slushies, OkStraw Paper Straws are made for Florida. This weekend, OkStraw will be at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show in Orlando. Stop by and meet us, help make the Sunshine State  plastic free, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!