Jane Castor encourages Gasparilla celebrators to recycle beads at The Florida Aquarium
Image via AP.

Microplastics from the beads remain persistent in the natural ecosystems for hundreds of years.

The Florida Aquarium is joining Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in encouraging Gasparilla party-goers to protect the environment by recycling their beads.

As part of Mayor Castor’s Bead Free Bay initiative, The Florida Aquarium is collecting beads through Feb. 5. Donating beads helps protect local marine ecosystems by keeping beads out of the waterways. Throwing beads or any other items in the water is also prohibited by Florida law.

For every 5-gallon bucket of beads a person donates at The Florida Aquarium, they will receive a half-price ticket for admission. The Florida Aquarium will then donate the beads to the MacDonald Training Center, which provides educational, vocational, residential and employment services to people with disabilities. The Center sorts the beads and resells them for next year’s Gasparilla.

Beads and other non-biodegradable items are incredibly harmful to our environment and pose serious threats to marine wildlife. They take a thousand years to break down into smaller pieces called microplastics, which never decompose. These microplastics remain persistent in the natural ecosystems for hundreds of years.

Gasparilla beads cannot be traditionally recycled, so the community’s best option for reducing waste is the reduction and reuse of the beads.

Mayor Castor will be at The Florida Aquarium on Monday to push for the Bead-Free Bay initiative.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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