3,000 lbs. of plastic at historic State Capitol sends strong message to lawmakers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A bold statement from two environmental activists appeared at the state Capitol this week: 3,000 pounds of plastic waste collected along Florida’s coastlines was left for a full day on the steps of the historic State Capitol to send a message to lawmakers.

The display was the result of the hard work of two environmental activists who founded the group Plastic Symptoms. (Capitol News Service)

The display was the result of the hard work of two environmental activists who founded the group Plastic Symptoms.

The team, consisting of Bryan Galvin and Heather Bolint, walked the entire coast of Florida over four months. Along the way the two collected plastics they found throughout the 1,200-mile trek.

“Knowing that we have a lot of tourists from all over the world that want to partake in our amazing beaches and our waterways,” said Galvin, "we need to protect it."

Plastic Symptoms hopes to show lawmakers the scope of the litter problem plaguing Florida’s beaches, but the plastic alone doesn’t show the impact to wildlife the activists witnessed.

“A skull of a bird that was wrapped up in monofilament fishing line,” said Bolint. "So, unfortunately, the bird perished.”

Plastic Symptoms said all of the plastic brought to the Capitol only represents about a tenth of the plastic they encountered on their journey. The group wants lawmakers to consider banning or regulating single-use plastic items.

“We're not going to take all the plastic out of the ocean and off the beaches by simply passing these laws, but this will show tourists that come to our state that we are doing all that we can and that this is not a problem that we want to be remembered by,” said Galvin.

And while the trash is now gone from the Capitol, Plastic Symptoms said it intends to bring the display back to the state Capitol when lawmakers return to the city for the 2020 session.

The Governor vetoed a bill this year that would have blocked local governments from banning single-use plastic straws.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has two programs aimed at tackling plastic pollution, Stash the Trash and Reel. Remove. Recycle.