TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “Green Gasparilla,” an initiative to raise awareness of plastic pollution in Tampa Bay, has earned one of its teenage founders international recognition.

Demetri Sedita, 16, has been named a “Young Eco-Hero” by the global organization “Action For Nature.” Sedita co-founded Green Gasparilla with his brother, Ethan.

The Sedita brothers have been fishing beads, tossed into the water during Gasparilla events, out of Seddon Channel for six years.

Their research into the dangers the plastic beads, which can be toxic, pose to the ecosystem. The two brothers documented piles of beads blanketing the floor of Seddon Channel, using underwater drone video, and took it to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, prompting the Bead Free Bay initiative.

The campaign barred pirating pirates from tossing the beads between boats participating in the 2020 Gasparilla flotilla.

That video also caught the eye of Action By Nature, earning Demetri an honorable mention in its 2020 Young Eco Heroes award program.

While plastic beads willingly tossed into the water is a Tampa Bay specific issue, the recognition gives Demetri a platform for sharing Green Gasparilla’s mission of raising awareness about plastic pollution.

“It’s shocking to a lot of people, who look from an outside perspective, that this is such a big issue,” says Demetri. “So much plastic is entering the ecosystem, and many people don’t seem to notice. Whether it be absent minded, or celebrated, people aren’t thinking about the bigger problem. It’s something people have been doing a long time, and it can be hard to break the habit of doing things that are polluting the environment.”

The Sedita brothers have gotten involved in large-scale underwater clean-up efforts, although the one planned for the spring was canceled due to the pandemic. Demetri is optimistic a smaller-scale cleanup will be held later this year.

However, the brothers continue working on their own and documenting the problem with more underwater videos.

While Demetri wasn’t fishing for compliments, he says that earning a nod for Green Gasparilla from an international organization dedicated to promoting eco-friendly living is arr-guably more motivation to keep going. He plans to continue talks with the City of Tampa, optimistic that the Bead Free Bay initiative will be expanded for future Gasparilla events.

You can learn more about Green Gasparilla here.