SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Fourteen-year-old Caleb Jameson is passionate about the environment, especially the safety of sea turtles. So when the ninth-grader noticed excess plastic on our beaches, he hatched an idea.
“The Turtle Safe Toy Box is designed to keep all plastics and toys out of the water and off the beach,” said Jameson.
What started as one Turtle Safe Toy Box on a beach in Longboat Key has now expanded throughout both Manatee and Sarasota counties.
“Kids will come to the beach with their toys and enjoy using them and playing with them and then when they are done, they are able to leave their toys in the box for the next person,” said Jameson.
The environmentally-conscious teen says toys left behind on the beach usually get washed away and can be harmful to sea animals.
“Once washed out, they will break down into small micro-plastics. Once they break down into small micro-plastics, if a sea animal or specifically a sea turtle were to ingest a micro-plastic, it gives it a 22% chance of dying. So the box is designed to prevent that,” said Jameson.
Stevie Freeman-Montes with the City of Sarasota says they have been actively working to combat plastic pollution. She tells 8 On Your Side when they learned about Jameson’s vision, they offered him a space to make it a reality.
Now, Jameson’s latest box can be found on Lido Beach, directly across from a turtle nest.
“We have some regulation we are considering as a city and other educational initiatives. So the Turtle Safe Toy Box is kind of a piece of that puzzle to help address plastic pollution here locally. It’s an example of a local student that identified a problem and created a solution and it shows the value on the environment that I think our younger generation is really stepping up and showing right now,” said Freeman-Montes.
You can find Turtle Safe Toy Boxes on three beaches in the Longboat Key area and one on Lido Beach. Jameson, who hopes to become a marine biologist, would like to place the Turtle Safe Toy Boxes on beaches across the country.
To learn more about the boxes, Jameson or how you can help, visit the Turtle Safe Toy Box Facebook page.