Consumer Choices Can Combat Microplastic Pollution

640 360 Stroud Water Research Center

The take-home message from Sherri “Sam” Mason, Ph.D., to the individuals who attended the 2019 Joan and Dick Stroud Memorial Lecture was REDUCE. Reduce or eliminate your use of single-use plastic.

Photo of Sherri Mason, Ph.D.

Mason is a professor of chemistry and a leading researcher in freshwater plastic pollution. She was the 23rd Heinz Award recipient for public policy for her groundbreaking research identifying microplastics in the Great Lakes freshwater ecosystem, leading to national and international policy change.

Microplastics are plastic pieces less than five millimeters long that result from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste. Plastic grocery bags, produce bags, straws, caps, lids, wrap, bottles and other containers, and even glitter, are consumer sources of microplastic pollution.

Mason inspired and awed the audience with her “Perils of Plastic” talk, emphasizing that the presence of microplastics in our freshwater systems can be reduced by making smarter choices as a consumer. She also spoke of her research looking at the presence of microplastics in the Great Lakes and how that translates to the consumption of water and beer.

Mason challenged each of the attendees to find a way to reduce their use of plastic, and reminded the attendees, “You have more power than you realize. As we refuse plastic, and speak loudly to corporations that we don’t want plastic, they will respond.”

Alternatives to plastic were presented during the lecture with locally-made Bee Our Guest beeswax wraps for sale, and Plastic Free Delaware and Kids Care in the Square sharing information about their mission to achieve higher sustainability.

The Joan and Dick Stroud Memorial Lecture is held annually in memory of the Stroud Center’s founders who strongly believed in the importance of sharing science with the general public. Special thanks are given to the presenting sponsor, Sycamore International, and supporting sponsor, Gunnip & Company, LLP. Sycamore International is a technology asset purchasing and recycling firm located in West Grove, Pennsylvania, and Gunnip & Company is a Delaware-based certified public accounting firm.

The 2019 Joan and Dick Stroud Memorial Lecture was captured in the Facebook Live video below. More videos and information about Mason can be found on her website.