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  • 2024 Great American Cleanup

    This year, the Great American Cleanup is embarking on its 26th annual cleanup! The program, which was first launched by Keep America Beautiful in 1999, sees the organization and its affiliates come together with their communities to beautify shared spaces. This event takes place throughout a 3 month period starting in March and ending in June, during which any cleanups performed by the community with the help of Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates are counted toward the overall results of the cleanup. The Great American Cleanup has a hugely significant impact on communities throughout the nation, with last year’s cleanup amounting to over 10,000,000 pounds of litter and debris collected, over 780,000 acres of public community spaces such as parks, playgrounds, and trails being cleaned and improved, about 65,000 plants and flowers planted and more with over 300,000 volunteers reported. This overwhelming outpouring of community support is one of the most powerful tools we can wield today to create a better Earth for all of us. Here in our community, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is celebrating the Great American Cleanup by hosting a multitude of events throughout the next few months. Coming up soon we have the 2nd annual Kid’s Kickoff, which serves a great start to the festivities. This fun, family-friendly event will be hosted at Macfarlane Park on March 16th from 9am - 11am, and encourages the young minds of our community to be environmentally conscious with fun activities, educational opportunities, and of course, a community cleanup! Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful will also be hosting the Great Port Cleanup on April 26th from 8am - 11am at Desoto Park, Davis Island, and a few other locations to encourage community upkeep of our beautiful bay! Both of these events are free to the public and can be registered for via Eventbrite at the following links: Kids Kickoff Great Port Cleanup: (Open to RSVP as of March 22nd) Moreover, the best part of the Great American Cleanup is that you, your family, friends, and other community members can lead your own projects to beautify your communities! If you have a specific project in mind and need help allocating resources, simply head to the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful website and look for the “Schedule a Cleanup” button or email with any questions. We all are looking forward to a truly promising cleanup this year, so remember to go out there and get involved! Together we can accomplish much more than we think!

  • Love is in the air! How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Sustainably

    With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is on everyone’s minds. No matter who you are planning to celebrate on this day, whether that be a spouse, partner, friend, or family member, it is important to be mindful of the environment when gifting during this season of love. It can be difficult to imagine how a holiday such as Valentine’s Day could have a negative impact on the environment, however, Valentine’s Day is characterized by plastic wrapped bouquets of roses, balloons, and chocolates in single-use (also plastic) heart-shaped boxes. These mass produced gifts which are the most easily accessible during this holiday often end up in landfills, unable to be recycled or repurposed. If all of these traditional Valentine’s Day gifts are not sustainable, what should I gift the special people in my life this year? Here are some sustainable suggestions you might consider this Valentine’s Day: A long lasting present or intangible present Consider opting for something that will stand the test of time, like a piece of art or mug, or something your person may find useful like a new notebook or book they’ve been meaning to read! You could also give an intangible gift, like a deep clean of a shared space or if you're creative, writing them a song! Gift a living plant Instead of a bouquet of unethically sourced flowers which will wither within a week, consider gifting a potted plant that can be cared for and enjoyed for a much longer time! Even better if it is a native species! Buy fair trade chocolate Chocolate is one of the most purchased items during the Valentine’s season, however, the cacao industry has been known to cause deforestation and use forced labor in order to meet high demands. When looking for a sweet treat for your sweetheart, search for the fair trade logo to make sure you are purchasing from a company which produces their product ethically. On this day when we celebrate those we love, don’t forget to show our Earth some love too!

  • Have No Fear, World Wetlands Day is Here!

    Celebrated on the 2nd of February each year, World Wetlands Day sets out to raise awareness about the importance of Wetlands as an integral part of the environment and their impact on human prosperity. This holiday was officially established by the UN in 2021 and commemorates the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, a treaty which provided us with a framework for wise use and preservation of wetlands, which was signed in 1971. Why should we care about restoring and preserving Wetlands? Wetlands are amongst the most degraded ecosystems on our planet, with a decline of 90% since the 1700’s. This poses a huge threat to the health of our Earth and us humans. This year, the official theme of World Wetlands Day, “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing,” aims to illustrate the relationship between the wellbeing of the wetlands and the wellbeing of humans. This ecosystem’s presence is essential as it provides biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, and other such environmental benefits, but they additionally contribute to world economies and beautifies our landscapes, directly affecting us as humans. Even more specific to us Tampa Bay residents, as a staple of our natural Florida beauty, we especially should place an emphasis on protecting these valuable ecosystems!

  • 2024 National Seed Swap Day

    It’s that time of year again! Seed Swap Day is just around the corner. National Seed Swap Day is celebrated on the last Saturday in January, falling on January 27th this year. Both on and around that day, gardeners come together with their communities to exchange seeds and honor the tradition of horticultural exchange we have here in the US. The tradition was started in 2006 by editor of the Washington Gardener, Kathy Jentz, who hosted a seed swap in Washington D.C. to great success, inspiring the instatement of the holiday. Why have a National Seed Swap Day? First and foremost, the exchange of different seeds and their spread throughout a community promotes biodiversity, which is essential to the health of our Earth and humanity. It also encourages community involvement and environmental stewardship. Most importantly, it reinvigorates our love of the Earth and keeps the art of gardening alive and well. “[Seed swapping] is an act of giving and the ultimate form of recycling,” asserted Jentz in a blogpost for the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH.) Getting involved in a local seed swap is as easy as a quick Google search. There are plenty of groups on social media who host a space for their local community of gardeners and enthusiasts alike to connect. In fact, the South Tampa Seed Swap, who host a public group on Facebook giving gardening tips and resources, will be holding a seed swap on January 27th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at their location 4113 Henderson Blvd. between S. Lois Ave & S. Clark Ave in front of Little Red Wagon Native Nursery. If you choose to get involved in the festivities this year, here are some quick tips on how to have a successful seed swap: 1.    Be sure to carefully pack and label the seeds you will be bringing to the swap. It is important that seeds are clearly labeled and properly packaged when contributing to a seed swap so everyone knows what they’re getting! 2.    Include a “usable” amount of seeds according to the plant. Some plants may not germinate as easily, so including an amount of seeds that will likely hold at least some viable plants is great. When in doubt, be generous! 3.    Make a list of the seeds you are looking for beforehand! It’s easy to get caught up in the giving, but receiving is essential to the seed swap too! Know what you’re looking for, so that when the seed swapping is over, you can get back to gardening! Getting involved in National Seed Swap Day is a great way to engage your community, promote gardening in our urban setting, and foster a love for our Earth. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a newcomer, Seed Swap Day is for everyone! Get involved today!

  • The "Bad Guys" Invading Florida's Native Species

    Non-native Invasive Species in Florida: Some of the most harmful plants and animals that reside in the state of Florida are non-native invasive species. They are usually introduced in the environment accidentally or through people traveling to other places and bringing them back. Most of these non-native species do not actually end up having a detrimental effect on the environment as they usually cannot strive or even survive in their new environment. This phenomenon is expressed by the ten percent rule, which is a general guideline that specifies that only 10% of these non-native species survive in their new environment, and o f that number, only 10% of that population will become actively invasive within the ecosystem they were introduced to (Invasive Non-Native Species). This general rule showcases how difficult it is for these non-native species to become harmful invasive species, but also emphasizes that the population of non-native species that become invasive are extremely damaging to the surrounding ecosystem. Most of the time, this damage is quantified in monetary terms so that we can fully understand the detrimental effects, but can also be quantified into terms of damage to native species and the surrounding ecosystem. Invasive species have caused North America around 26 billion dollars annually since 2010, which is a huge economical impact (Economic and Social Impacts). Some examples of harmful non-native invasive species in Florida: One good example of this is the Burmese Python, known to most as a popular pet species, and was first recorded in the Everglades in 1979. Since then it has become an ever growing issue in Florida, as it is one of three breeding populations of constrictor snakes in the state. The burmese python also has no natural predators, as it actively competes with native predators in Florida and feeds on organisms like birds, mammals, and even some reptiles (Burmese Python). Making this species extremely harmful in the Everglades area because of their ongoing threat towards native predators in the Everglades area as well as depleting native populations in the ecosystem. Another non-native invasive species in Florida is the Cane Toad, which was introduced into Florida in the 1930s. These species cause damage to the surrounding animals and people because of the toxicity of their skin. This has to do with their skin-gland secretion, also called bufotoxin, which can kill or sicken any animal that attempts to bite the toad. Their eggs also contain the bufotoxin that has the same effect as their skin glands do (Cane toad). Making the cane toad a serious threat to any domesticated animals like dogs and cats that do not know better, and could potentially die from messing with a cane toad or its eggs. This might be an effective defense for the toad, but it causes an issue with coming up with natural methods to lessen their population in Florida, while reducing the number of incidents that occur with these non-native invasive species. Currently the most effective method seems to be to have Florida residents take care of any spotted Cane Toads on their own property and dispose of them. An example of a non-native invasive plant species is the Japanese Climbing Fern, which was first introduced in the 1930s as a decorative plant. Known for its climbing ability, this non-native species grows super quickly and smothers native plants by preventing them from absorbing any sunlight. This in turn, also affects the fire risk of the area as the vine is highly flammable and causes more than just floor litter to burn during a forest fire. This species also creates a kind of mat over the ground that does not allow for any kind of seed germination in that matting area, which can grow up to ten feet (Japanese climbing fern). This non-native invasive species effectively harms the native vegetation and trees in Florida, causing native populations to drop and some to die off in certain areas. What we can learn from this: Take the time to learn about the various non-native invasive species found here in Florida. When considering planting some ornamental vegetation on your property, consider what species you are purchasing and the potential effect it can have on the surrounding environment. Choosing native plant species can help avoid any issues with invasive plant species, which can be easily bought in stores. It can also almost guarantee that your plants will do well, as they are native to the area and thrive in Florida’s climate conditions. When it comes to coming into contact with an invasive species in Florida, the best we can do is follow the Florida Fish and Wildlife instructions on how to get rid of the invasive animal or plant effectively and as naturally as we can manage. How you can get involved: Start off by learning about how to identify non-native animals and plants so you can tell them apart from native Florida species. The Everglades CISMA actually offers many different identification tools on our Publications & Tools page, in the linktree in our bio. You can then download the “IveGot1'' app for iPhone or Android so that you can identify and report invasive species wherever you go on the go. Or you can also report invasive species by calling 1-888-IVE-GOT1 or online at These reports consist of three different elements: a clear photograph of the non-native invasive species, the date, and the location of the sighting. All of which aid in research about the distribution and help manage these non-native species in Florida. References: Burmese Python. National Invasive Species Information Center. (n.d.-a). Cane toad. Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission. (n.d.).,to%20bite%20or%20consume%20them. Economic and Social Impacts. National Invasive Species Information Center. (n.d.-b). Japanese climbing fern. National Invasive Species Information Center. (n.d.-c).

  • How the use of fertilizers affects our waterways and the environment:

    The initial concept of utilizing fertilizers was to maximize the profitability of agricultural yields, this was done by restoring nitrogen and phosphorus levels to the agricultural fields which then prevented the yield from declining over time. During that period of fertilizer experimentation in the 19th century, there was no afterthought about how this could negatively affect the sur rounding environment in the future. Today, we know that these fertilizers have introduced an entirely new problem known as nutrient pollution, which has had extensive impacts on the surrounding environment and the public. The impacts of nutrient pollution on the environment include the phenomenon of eutrophication, coral reef destruction, decrease in biological diversity, and harmful algae blooms. What is Eutrophication, and how does it contribute to Algae Blooms and dead Zones? Eutrophication has to do with the increase of organic matter that exists in an aquatic ecosystem, caused by the excess of nutrients due to the high amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. It continues to be a growing problem in the state of Florida as it kills aquatic life and is the phenomenon that causes algae blooms, as well as dead zones. After these harmful algae blooms form, they eventually turn into dead zones, which is when the algae in the water dies and depletes the oxygen levels in the water, killing the marine life in the water who depend on the oxygen in the water to breathe (Surrick). The low oxygen levels in the water ca use red tide, which is just another phase for a harmful algae bloom that also affects the color of the water, turning it red. How does this affect the diversity of the ecosystem? The excessive amount of macronutrients (e.g.: nitrogen and phosphorus) in the water, alters the biodiversity by creating overstimulation and often mutational growth of aquatic animals and plants (Nitrogen and Water). With more marine populations declining due to the growing problem of algal blooms and dead zones, there has been a loss of diversity within these ecosystems. How does Eutrophication affect our coral reefs? The rise of eutrophication in our waterways and the large amounts of macronutrients leads to excess algal growth on coral reefs, which ends up creating too much crowding within the ecosystem, leading to degradation of the ecosystem (2006). Excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water create these harmful algae blooms, eventually turning into dead zones when the algae dies and depletes the dissolved oxygen levels in the water, in turn, killing the marine life in the water. Tying back this information to current events regarding legislation in Florida: In May of 2023, four counties in the state of Florida placed a fertilizer ban from June 1st to September, which is the extent of Florida’s rainy season. Specifically, banning the use of fertilizers that contain nitrogen and/or phosphorus because of its effect on our waterways and aquatic ecosystems. In the midst of the seasonal ban in June of this year, Governor DeSantis utilized his line-item veto to suspend the seasonal fertilizer restrictions that were put in place earlier this year (Chesnes, 2023). This decision came after the public outcry and objections by environmental groups about the suspendment of the seasonal fertilizer ban. References: Chesnes, M. (2023, June 16). Despite worries from environment groups, DeSantis opts to halt new fertilizer bans. Tampa Bay Times.,and%20until%20July%201%2C%202024. How Pollution Affects Coral Reefs. NOAA 200th. (2006, December 12).,and%20significantly%20degrading%20the%20ecosystem. “Nitrogen and Water .” U.S. Geological Survey, 21 May 2018,, J. (n.d.). Dead zones. Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 0excessive%20amounts,oxygen%20from%20the%20surrounding%20water.

  • Fishing line recycling containers: What really goes in there?

    You’ve seen them at your favorite fishing spots, the white periscopes lurking near the piers or shorelines usually attached to a pole or upright on a pier. These are the monofilament recycling tubes used to reclaim fishing line to keep it from entangling or causing other harm to our marine animals. But wait, you just said monofilament, right? Yes, not all fishing lines are created equal! Actually, not all fishing lines are the same. Monofilament refers to plastic type single strand line. This includes fluorocarbon line. There is a different type of line also commonly used, called braid or braided line. This line looks and feels different. Braided line is not clear or tinted, you can feel the ridges and strands in it when you run it through your fingers. Monofilament and fluorocarbon are very smooth and feel a bit stretchy compared to braid which is very strong and not flexible. But why the lesson on fishing line? Well, there is no current recycling program for braided line. It is recommended that braided line is cut up into 12-inch sections and then placed in the garbage. The experts also ask to cut it up, so it does not become an entanglement issue for animals or equipment used in the solid waste facilities. Monofilament recycling or collection is important for two reasons: Mono has a 600-year breakdown life span All fishing line left behind is a major contributor to bird, fish, and marine mammal entanglements. Berkley is the only company at this moment that can recycle monofilament line. The line has to be hook and tackle free and clean for them to accept it. Please help us by removing your tackle from the line before placing it in our containers. Recycling - Berkley® Fishing ( Captain Al Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

  • The “Not-So-Fun” Facts About Fireworks

    Join us on July 5th to help become part of the solution! REGISTER HERE ON OUR EVENTBRITE: Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s After the 4th Cleanup Tickets, Tue, Jul 5, 2022 at 8:00 AM | Eventbrite We all enjoy our time celebrating America’s birthday with picnics, libations and sparklers, but the time comes when we must clean up after the party. Join your fellow Tampa Bay residents in helping to protect our waterways from becoming an explosion of unsightly litter. WHEN: Date: Monday, July 5th Check-in: 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. Cleanup Time: 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Tag us and be featured on our stories! FB: @KeepTampaBayBeautiful Instagram: @KeepTBB #AfterFireworksCleanup #KeepTampaBayBeautiful #KeepTBB #DoBeautifulThings #TrashFreeWaters REGISTER HERE ON OUR EVENTBRITE: Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s After the 4th Cleanup Tickets, Tue, Jul 5, 2022 at 8:00 AM | Eventbrite

  • Let’s “Bee” Kind: The Importance of Our Bees

    For many of us, our first instinct when we see a bee is to run away in terror, hoping not to get stung. I have personally done this several times, but now understand the importance of bees and how to distinguish between them. Bees are one of the most important creatures on Earth, therefore it is vital to know the different types. The common type of bees that live in North America include honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees, and carder bees. Honey bees are the most common type on our continent. They are known for their honeycomb-like structure and are important pollinators for fruits and vegetables. Honey bees (female ones) can sting but they mainly do so when they feel threatened. Bumblebees are known for their black and yellow furry bodies and large heads. They are amazing pollinators too, helping to keep our ecosystem balanced by pollinating plants in nature and commercial crops. The differing types of bees are conducive to our ecosystem. Populations of bees are declining due to various factors like exposure to pesticides and habitat loss. Bees are vital to us because they provide ⅓ of the food supply here on Earth (due to pollination) and are the sole producers of honey. So next time you see a bee, remember to “bee” kind!

  • Show Love to Our Planet this Valentine’s Day!

    Let’s show some love to our planet this Valentine’s Day! It’s time to break the traditions of gifting store bought cards, roses, boxes of chocolate, and stuffed teddy bears. All of these pose serious sustainability threats on our environment just from the production of the products alone (not even factoring in the tons of waste associated with this day). So what is the solution to celebrating this holiday? Do not fret! There are multiple ways to “go green”, so to speak, for Valentine’s Day. Some eco-friendly gift ideas include gifting a potted plant, fair trade chocolate or jewelry, a soy candle, or even handmade soap. You can always make a gift yourself or re-gift items you may have just laying around your house. A huge part of Valentine’s Day includes going out to eat. If you are set on going out, try eating and supporting local businesses. One of the most sustainable things you could do on this day would be preparing a romantic dinner at home. This would truly create an intimate atmosphere for you and your loved ones, and the planet would love you for it! Here are some links to fun craft ideas that you can gift this Valentine's Day: Handmade cards - More Ideas - Creative Valentine’s Day Ideas | Sustainable Crafts For Your Love (

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