To celebrate World Ocean’s Day on June 8th, Clean Ocean Action participated with global organizations for the inaugural Microplastics Awareness Week. In partnership with the Microplastics Working Group of USEPA Region 2’s Trash Free Waters (TFW) Program, COA supporters were educated on the topic of microplastics through social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In addition to highlighting microplastics as a whole, the awareness week was an opportunity to share current research projects in the region. For example, COA’s research reached the public for the first time through social outlets.
For Background: In January 2014, COA put together a committee of international and national scientists to establish a model for marine microplastics assessments. In collaboration with this research team, specifically the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), COA launched the first statewide microplastics research study in New Jersey. Multiple samples were collected at 32 locations from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Analysis of the water and sand samples is underway and expected to be completed this year.
EPA Region 2’s Trash Free Waters was established in 2014 as a means to identify a focused set of actions that support trash prevention and reduction initiatives by many public and private participants. These organizations, agencies, businesses and students decided to focus TFW initiatives to combat the plastic plague. The group is tackling the issue in the following five categories: boxes, microplastics, cigarette butts, bottles, and bags. Catie Tobin, COA’s Marine Science Program Manager is the lead person for the microplastics working group which is highlighting research being done in EPA Region 2 with a goal of data standardization.
Overall, the first Microplastics Awareness Week was a success and groundbreaking means to excite citizens through social sharing and media networking.