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City Volunteers Clean Up Gasparilla Beads for Reuse Program

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Bead Reuse Program a Gasparilla Treasure

With sustainability in mind, Tampa’s Department of Solid Waste & Environmental Program Management is urging all Gasparilla pirates to take all unwanted beads to designated collection sites in order to divert them from Tampa's waste stream and put them back to good use for next year.

The Bead Reuse Program was created in partnership with the MacDonald Training Center, a local non-profit working to empower people with disabilities. Beads are cleaned, repackaged, and reused during the next parade season, all while providing valuable, vocational skills gained by the training center’s clients.

From the inception of the program, with the help of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful volunteers and city staff, over 330,000 individual bead necklaces, weighing over 10,000 lbs., have been delivered to the MacDonald Training Center for reuse. 

"We encourage all our pirates to give back their loot through the Bead Reuse Program," said Mayor Jane Castor. "Over recent years, Tampa pirates have been more generous than we thought and have turned in thousands of pounds of their treasure. I'm hoping maybe this year we can set a record." 

Starting Monday, January 29 through May 2024, Gasparilla revelers are encouraged to take unwanted beads to any of the following collection sites during their normal operating hours:

  • Kate Jackson Community Center – 821 S Rome Ave.
  • Loretta Ingraham Recreation Complex – 1611 N Hubert Ave.
  • Copeland Park Center – 11001 N 15th St.
  • MacDonald Training Center – 5420 W Cypress St.

Between Tampa’s Bead Free Bay awareness campaign and the Bead Reuse program, we will further protect our marine life and advance our commitment to reduce waste. 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. 

Help by doing your part and making sure your beads get reused.

For additional information on the Bead Reuse Collection Program, please visit our website at www.tampa.gov/BeadFreeBay.