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a pile of irregular, small, colorful plastic pieces

September is Microplastic Awareness Month

For the third year, the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project is promoting the month of September as Microplastic Awareness Month. Around the state, there will be various educational activities designed to help teach people about the problems with plastics and to encourage people to look for alternatives to single-use plastics, to recycle plastic items properly, and to reduce plastic waste.

About the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project

The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project was created in 2015 by Dr. Maia McGuire. The project was initially funded by an outreach and education grant from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. In the past three years, almost 2,000 people have taken a pledge to reduce the amount of plastic waste that they generate.

The Smog of the Sea film screening and activity

Maia will be providing several opportunities for people to learn more about plastics during this month. On September 12th she will hold a screening of the 30-minute film, “The Smog of the Sea” at the UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County office (150 Sawgrass Road, Bunnell). The film will start at 12:15. Following the film, Maia will answer questions, and will then give people an opportunity to make their own reusable beeswax food wraps (as an alternative to plastic wrap). The film is free. People who would like to make and take a beeswax food wrap with them can do so for $5. You can pay at the door, or with a credit card online. There will be another opportunity to view the film and ask questions on September 13th at 6 pm at the St Johns River State College campus in St. Augustine (room C116)

Shannon Carnevale will be holding a film screening and make-and-take beeswax food wrap activity in Polk County. Folks near Bartow can learn more about it from Shannon’s blog post.

Microplastic Awareness Month Webinar Series

Maia will also be holding three webinars. All will start at noon and will run for approximately 30 minutes. The webinars will be recorded and will be posted on the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project’s website  for those who cannot view them live. On Thursday September 6, the topic will be “Plastic in the ocean: What we do and do not know.” Maia will provide answers to some commonly-asked questions about plastic pollution in the ocean. People will receive a link to the webinar by registering online.

On Thursday September 13, the topic is, “Thinking Beyond ‘Skip the Straw.’” 2014-15 saw the “ban the microbead” movement in the US. In 2018, a huge wave of municipalities and companies have started banning/eliminating single use plastic straws except by request. These movements have had great momentum, but are these steps by themselves enough? What can/should be done beyond banning straws, bags or foam containers?

A compostable fork made from bioplastic

The final webinar in the series will be on September 20, and is titled, “Bioplastics–better than petroleum-based plastic?” We have all probably seen plastic cups, utensils or other products that are made from plants. While they are labeled as compostable, are they really better than petroleum-based plastic in the environment? Maia will discuss plant-based PLA plastics as well as the bacterial waste-based PHA plastics.

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