Click on the buttons below to find out what you can do on the local, state, and federal levels.
More than 30 municipalities in Florida have passed single-use plastic reduction policies/laws. Learn how to pass a local city/county ordinance.
We need federal action! Learn how to help pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
What can we do about balloon litter?
Balloons can travel thousands of miles. They are deadly to key wildlife populations
, and are the deadliest form of plastic debris for seabirds. Balloons and their ribbons present a threat of entanglement and ingestion to birds and marine wildlife, as well as horses, cows, and other animals. Balloon pollution has been found in remote areas in the Florida Everglades.
Balloons can also become entangled in power lines, and Mylar balloons have caused fires and power outages. Because of these dangers, balloon releases have been banned in many cities, counties, and beachfront parks across the state of Florida. Jacksonville recently passed a balloon release ban, and a councilman said it was their “most popular piece of legislation ever.” In addition, some cities in Florida have been completely banning balloons in all outdoor public areas, such as parks and beaches.
Read more about balloon bans on Palm Beach County beaches here.
Currently, Florida law only prohibits the release of more than 10 helium balloons in 24 hours. This means that the state actually allows Floridians to litter up to 10 balloons into the environment. This state law obviously needs to be updated. In addition, Florida state law allows exemptions for balloons labeled as “biodegradable.” The state law needs to be amended to prohibit all intentional balloon releases, including balloons marketed as “biodegradable.” These balloons often include strings that can entangle wildlife and do not degrade easily in a marine environment.
You can ask your state lawmakers to update our state statute to prohibit all intentional balloon releases.
Read more about why balloons are dangerous for wildlife here.
President Biden can tackle this crisis with the stroke of a pen.
Your school/school system might sign a multi-year contract for products. If so, you can work on asking them to commit to green choices for their next contract.
Take Out and Delivery:
Enact policies in local and state government that require customers to “opt in” for accessories like plastic utensils, or for restaurants to “ask first” before adding all the unnecessary extra stuff to your order.
The City of Gainesville passed a Skip the Stuff/By Request Only ordinance. “Prepared food providers shall not provide single-use plastic food accessories (such as plastic utensils, condiment packets, portion cups) for dine-in, take-out or delivery, unless the single-use food accessory is specifically requested by the customer or is provided at a customer self-serve station.” This “By Request Only” plastics ordinance was passed June 2, 2022 and will go into effect September 2, 2022. This ordinance reduces plastic and also saves restaurants money because they do not purchase as many unnecessary accessories.
Reuse, Refill, and Opt-In Policies
Would you like to advocate for a reuse policy? For example, having to “opt-in” for accessories when ordering take-out and delivery? Requiring reusables for on-site dining?
View and download sample model reuse policies from UPSTREAM here.
You can also suggest this to your state legislators and ask for a statewide “opt in” or “by request only” law.
Bonus: California restaurants that have already switched to by-request utensils have saved between $3,000 and $21,000 per year.
The City of Gainesville passed a Skip the Stuff/By Request Only ordinance. Prepared food providers can’t provide single-use plastic food accessories (such as plastic utensils, condiment packets, portion cups) for dine-in, take-out or delivery, unless the single-use food accessory is specifically requested by the customer. This “By Request Only” plastics ordinance was passed June 2, 2022 and will go into effect September 2, 2022.
Speak to your state lawmakers!
Speak in front of all of the state lawmakers in your county at the same time at a delegation hearing. You can sign up to speak for 2-3 minutes in front of your county’s state lawmakers and ask them to make reduction of single-use plastics a legislative priority. Find out when your county’s delegation is meeting here. Fill out a speaker form and send it in by the deadline. You can also ask them to make repeal of plastic/foam preemptions a priority.
Hosting a cleanup?
Hosting a cleanup can help raise awareness about the plastic pollution crisis, but make sure you always educate your participants on what they can do to influence policy. While beach cleanups and individual actions are wonderful, we know that they will not solve the plastic pollution crisis. We need legislative action. Always include a “Call to Action” on policy whenever you post photos on social media. While individual, voluntary actions are appreciated, we really want to inspire larger, collective actions that will influence local, state, and/or federal legislation. We want to inspire people to call, write, and make appointments with their elected officials. Share PlasticFreeFL.org with your audience so that they know how to get more involved.
You can also tag your state elected officials and ask them to repeal the preemption laws on single-use plastics. Tag your mayor or city commissioner and ask them to pass a local ordinance. Tag your members of Congress and ask them to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Polystyrene Rulemaking from the Florida Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has begun rulemaking to phase out the use of polystyrene products in Florida grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, and other regulated businesses.
“Polystyrene may be convenient, but there is a hidden danger to public health from these disposable consumer products. Chemicals in polystyrene are not only linked to human and animal health concerns, but because these petroleum-based products take at least 500 years to decompose, their negative effects continue long after they’re thrown away,” said Commissioner Fried. “As Florida’s consumer protection and food safety agency, we have an opportunity to help consumers and companies make a positive change. That’s why I’m excited to announce that we have started the rulemaking process to phase out the use of polystyrene food packaging at the 40,000 grocery stores, markets, and convenience stores that we regulate in Florida. By increasing demand for cost-effective alternative products, this is a huge opportunity to create Florida jobs, at Florida businesses, using Florida-grown crops to create next-generation products that are made in Florida. This vision to phase out polystyrene until reaching zero within this decade is a monumental change for consumers, health, and the environment, joining a third of U.S. states in taking action on this issue.” Read more here.
Dec 10– Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried signed off on her proposed new rules for elimination of polystyrene packaging in stores and businesses her department regulates and is sending those rules to the Legislature, seeking ratification.
Fried announced that she signed off on the rules to eliminate polystyrene packaging, after several months of public hearings and rule-making by her department. Read more here.