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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Put a lid on those garbage cans

Putting lids on garbage cans along the waterfront in St. Petersburg would help keep plastics out of Tampa Bay. [Times (2017) photo]
Published May 10

Here's a simple way to help keep plastic trash out of Tampa Bay: Put lids on all municipal garbage cans, particularly those near the water. It's just common sense, and even progressives and conservatives could unite behind this idea.

Consider just one example. Last month, St. Petersburg hosted the annual Mainsail Art Festival in its beautiful waterfront Vinoy Park on a windy weekend. Gusts blew through the trash cans and turned the garbage bags inside out so that they resembled airport windsocks. Debris scattered across the park — and into Tampa Bay. City workers scampered along the seawall with long tongs to retrieve what they could, but too much had already blown across the water and out of reach, perhaps to end up inside a sea turtle or a dolphin, such as the young one that recently washed up on a Florida beach with a belly full of plastic trash.

To combat plastic pollution and to protect marine life, St. Petersburg was phasing out plastic straws, but the conservative Legislature had voted to ban the ban, and then late Friday Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill, putting the conservative Republican and the progressive Mayor Rick Kriseman on the same side.

That may be an amazing development, but the city can do more to keep Tampa Bay free of litter by simply capping its garbage cans. For those worried about germs or dirt, lids with slots would allow people to throw out their trash without touching the can. There has to be a lidded can that people will use, and if there isn't one yet, well, that sounds like a challenge for an entrepreneur. To the green mantra of "reduce, reuse and recycle," let's add "retain": Put a lid on it — and keep the garbage in the can.

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