GO GREEN, STAY BLUE!
Go Green, Stay Blue is an effort to educate and encourage the public to use environmentally and economically efficient practices in order to reduce waste and protect the health of the environment.
This new staff-initiated effort promotes the reduction of plastic waste at all events. There are myriad ways our team has implemented sustainable goals:
• We no longer provide disposable cups for water at volunteer projects, instead encouraging people to bring their own reusable bottles; and we’ll provide reusable cups for those who do not have one.
• Washable mason jars are provided at our special events rather than disposable plastic drink cups. In fact, as a zero-waste event, the Evening for the Bay fundraiser earned a Green Event Certification Seal from the University of Florida.
• Our monofilament collection program has added more monotubes around the bay—now totaling 182 tubes— which safely collect discarded fishing line before it reaches bay waters. Click here to read more about this program.
• Instead of using plastic garbage bags at our coastal cleanups, we now use grain bags donated by Cigar City Brewing Co., which can be cleaned and reused.
• The education team has aligned with the Florida Microplastics Awareness Project to help collect and process water samples for microplastics. By continuing this trend toward sustainability, Tampa Bay Watch hopes to guide others to take responsibility for their own waste and energy footprints. Click here to read more about this initiative.
• The Bay Grasses in Classes program is now solely using recycled nursery trays and pots donated by local nurseries.
Parties are meant to be enjoyed; however, excessive food-related waste is one of the largest contributors of refuse in hospitality. Tampa Bay Watch proudly focuses on eliminating plastics and disposables during organizational events as part of the Go Green, Stay Blue initiative.
Partnership with community beacons like Sustainability Sponsor Covanta make this effort a reality. Their mission is clear: Covanta provides sustainable solutions to some of the biggest waste management challenges. With a global network of energy-from-waste and material processing facilities, Covanta is preserving valuable natural resources and generating clean energy for communities like Tampa.
Each year, Tampa Bay Watch’s Evening for the Bay hosts over 400 guests under the Tierra Verde stars for an all-inclusive night of appreciation. Since 2017, Covanta has made this a zero-landfill event, meaning that the approximately 250 pounds of waste produced by this event alone is either recycled or processed to generate clean, renewable energy.
Composting is the decomposition of organic material by insects, fungi, bacteria or other microbes. Aerobic bacteria typically do most of the decomposition in a compost pile, using oxygen to break down organic matter and releasing carbon dioxide and heat energy. With food scraps making up 20 – 30% of what ends up in landfills, composting is a great way to reduce the waste you produce while simultaneously generating fertile soil for your garden. There are many ways in which people compost their food scraps, including trench composting, anaerobic composting, 3-bin composting and worm composting.
Using compost in your garden can increase the pest and disease resistance and the overall health of your plants. Additionally, it will increase the water retention of your soil, due to all of the decomposed organic material it contains. Composting is also a sustainable alternative to using fertilizer in your garden. High-nitrogen fertilizers are a big problem in coastal areas like Tampa Bay, especially during the rainy season. Nitrogen from fertilizers that are used in residential areas is swept into Tampa Bay by stormwater runoff. Once in the bay, nitrogen contributes heavily to algae growth, causing algal blooms in some areas and decimating fish populations.
In order to produce a good product by composting, three different things are needed: browns, greens and water. Browns are organic materials that are high in carbon such as mulch, sticks or dried leaves. Greens include nitrogen-rich organic materials such as vegetable or fruit scraps. Too much carbon can cause the composting process to slow, while too much nitrogen can cause the production of ammonia (NH3), which will affect the pH of the soil and make it smell bad. It is therefore very important to add greens and browns to your compost in the right proportions. A carbon to nitrogen ratio between 25:1 and 30:1 is recommended. You should avoid adding meat, pet waste, plastic-coated paper, onions and citrus peels, to name a few, because these things can change the pH and offset the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. They can also encourage anaerobic decomposition, which slows aerobic decomposition, smells bad and attracts rats, bugs and other scavengers.
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