St. Pete Indie Market to curb plastic use starting Saturday

click to enlarge Now with no plastics. - Courtesy, St. Pete Indie Market
Courtesy, St. Pete Indie Market
Now with no plastics.

Water bottles. Coffee cups. Food containers. And, possibly worst of all, plastic bags.

They all seem like mainstays at Tampa Bay's popular street markets, where locals and tourists check out the wares of local artists, crafters and food vendors. Single-use plastic and styrofoam are obviously a cheap and easy way to tote purchases, be they handmade jewelry or freshly cooked falafel.

But they have a detrimental impact on wildlife and waterways, especially in the Tampa Bay area, where such events often take place near the waterfront, if not right up against it. Straws and plastic bags can harm or kill birds and sea turtles, and even if you throw them in a trash receptacle, most of it never never goes away.

But one local event is doing its part by phasing out single-use plastics and styrofoam.

The St. Pete Indie Market, a monthly event showcasing local artists, designers, nonprofits and food vendors, will be unveiling its plan to get rid of the stuff at its first event of the year this Saturday in front of Green Bench Brewing Co. at 1133 Baum Ave N. in the EDGE District.

Halting the consumption of single-use plastics would make the Indie Market an Ocean Friendly Business, a designation created by the Surfrider Foundation in conjunction with the Rise Above Plastics Coalition.

"We're extremely excited that the St Pete Indie Market has taken the pledge to reduce their environmental impact for hundreds of incredible vendors. This commitment not only speaks to future thinking of the organization, but the understanding of how small steps can lead to a big change, something worthy of celebration," Thomas Paterek, the chair of Suncoast Surfrider Foundation, said in a media release.

Maintaining the designation entails ensuring that the market's 80-plus vendors will halt the distribution of single-use plastics over the course of the year.

While some of the market's participants are already using sustainable materials, organizers admit that others may find the transition challenging. Eco-friendly containers can often be more expensive, and researching them might be time-consuming. But organizers say they'll assist vendors in any way they can as the market endeavors to become free of harmful, unsustainable materials.

Saturday's Indie Market goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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