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PICKING UP THE PIECES

The breakdown on microplastic pollution

 
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What if we told you that YOU hold the keys to the microplastic pollution problem?

Learn what microplastic pollution is, where it comes from, why it is a concern, what's being done about it and how YOU can get involved. 


Together, WE can ALL make a difference to protect our future. 

 

WHAT ARE MICROPLASTICS?

Plastic pieces smaller than 5mm (the size of a pencil eraser) are called microplastics.

 
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WHEN PLASTIC ENTERS THE ENVIRONMENT IT BREAKS DOWN INTO SMALLER AND SMALLER PIECES

Most microplastics are so small you can only see them with a microscope.

The most common microplastics may surprise you. Microplastics can include nurdles (manufactured plastic beads), car tire particles and clothing fibers. 

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MICROPLASTICS ARE EVERYWHERE 

Microplastics have been found in all of Earth’s environments, including our oceans, freshwater, soil, air, wildlife, food, drinking water and even our own bodies!

Microplastics have even been found in the most remote areas of the globe, including Antarctica and Mount Everest. 

 

WHERE DO MICROPLASTICS COME FROM?

 

Microplastics come from the break down of larger plastic litter. Examples include:

  • food and drink packaging like take-out containers, single-use items, soft drink bottles, frozen ready meal trays, plastic cling wrap, to-go cups, plastic bags, meat trays, bottle caps, and even loose fruit and chip bags

  • protective equipment like face masks and gloves

  • fishing gear

Microplastics also include:

  1. pieces and fibres released during the use of plastic containing products, like car tires and clothing

  2. particles used as abrasives like those in toothpaste or face scrubs, and

  3. nurdles used to make plastic items.

Microplastics make their way into our environment from our households, cities, coasts, agricultural lands, and industries through treatment plants, city stormwater sewers, snowmelt, runoff and waste mismanagement...phew!

 
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WHY ARE MICROPLASTICS

A CONCERN?

 

Microplastics stay in the environment for a long time and are a major source of the global plastic pollution problem.

All plastic is made from oil and gas, so the manufacturing process releases harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Microplastics can contain toxic chemicals like hardening and softening agents, dyes, flame retardants and more.

Microplastics are often mistaken for food and eaten by small creatures in both water and land ecosystems, making their way through the food chain. This can harm our ecosystems, food security, health and economy.

When animals eat microplastics, the animal can feel full without the nutrition they need. Microplastics can cause blockages in the stomach of small animals. Chemicals can leach off of microplastics and cause hormone imbalances. Microplastics can also transfer bacteria or invasive species to marine animals or new environments.

When animals and humans consume microplastics, toxic substances can leach into their bodies.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

 
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The best way to prevent microplastic pollution is to not create plastic waste in the first place

The Government of Canada has a comprehensive zero plastic waste agenda to tackle plastic waste and pollution. Through its Zero Plastic Waste Initiative, Environment and Climate Change Canada supports local projects to develop and test solutions to prevent plastics from entering the environment.


Solutions to stop microplastic pollution at the source include regulations, policies, better waste management, and industry and community action.  

To create these solutions, decision makers need more data on what type of plastics end up in the environment, where they come from and their effects. 

Scientists around the globe work to collect this data. But much more is needed.

That’s where YOU come in!  

 

BECOME A COMMUNITY SCIENTIST

COMMUNITY SCIENTISTS are Canadians just like YOU who want to make an impact

 
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GET STARTED

Small actions have BIG impacts. Together, WE can ALL make a difference to protect our future. 

There are many ways to tackle microplastic pollution. Join the community of Canadians working together to protect our future. Pick an action below and share it with us to be featured.

LEARN AND SHARE

  1. Learn more about microplastic pollution from Canadian experts in our Discovery Lab.

  2. Read about our community science pilot project.

  3. Enroll in a Sea Smart program.

  4. Talk to your friends, family, school and community about microplastic pollution.

START A SCHOOL OR COMMUNITY PROJECT

We are developing a toolkit with educational resources, community science protocols, new technology and a data portal for schools and community groups to help map the globe for microplastics. Add your name to the waitlist to receive updates and start a project in your community.

REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

  1. Say NO to single-use plastics and fast fashion.

  2. Choose reusable mugs, water bottles, bags and other reusable items.

  3. Buy locally and sustainably when possible. 

  4. Recycle and repurpose what cannot be re-used. Learn about recycling programs in your community.  

ADVOCATE

  1. Write an email to your local MP to voice your concerns about plastic pollution in your community. 

  2. Demand that manufacturers improve their processes.   

  3. Join the Oceana plastic campaign.

JOIN AN EXISTING PROGRAM

  1. Gather other local volunteers to collect garbage from your community. 

  2. Volunteer with Surfrider Canada for a beach clean-up group. 

SUPPORT SCIENCE

With your support, scientists and community scientists can access the tools and technologies needed to collect and analyze important microplastics data.

 
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COMMUNITY 

SCIENCE TOOLKITS

COMING SOON!

Community scientists are schools and volunteer groups who sample microplastics on their local beaches. They use simple protocols and technology we have developed to learn about science and the environment while collecting important microplastics data.


This data can help us, other scientists, governments and policy makers to understand the sources and effects of microplastic pollution in your community and across the world. With more data we can inform local and global solutions!

 

BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION

Tag OceanDiagnostics and use #BeatPlasticPollution to be featured among other Canadians tackling microplastic pollution. 

 
ILLUSTRATION OF CANADIAN MICROPLASTICS EXPERTS

DISCOVERY LAB

Learn more about microplastic pollution in Canada from Canadian microplastics experts!

 

About the Campaign

As part of Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Initiative, Ocean Diagnostics has partnered with Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop and test new community science technologies and protocols for the public to collect important data to help us understand and create solutions to microplastics pollution. This partnership aims to equip Canadians with the knowledge and tools they need to help achieve Canada’s zero plastic waste goals. Learn more about the pilot project here.