The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) will be hosting the talk, “Microplastics on the Treasure Coast,” Saturday, December 15 from 11-12 p.m. at its nature center, located at 255 Live Oak Dr., Vero Beach. Environmental Specialist Emily Dark of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) will reveal the pervasive problem of microplastics, the different types of plastics currently found in the Indian River Lagoon as well as their impact on the lagoon’s health.
“Although large plastics never really decompose or break down, they do break up – into hundreds of tiny plastic pieces called microplastics. Microplastics are not only created by larger plastics wearing down, they are also purposely added to many household and personal care items such as facial scrubs and toothpaste that we use every day,” ELC Director of Education and Research Sara Piotter explained.
Dark’s talk will also focus on how the FDEP and ELC are collaborating with the University of Florida, Marine Discovery Center, Smithsonian Marine Station, Florida Oceanographic Society and the University of Central Florida and Oxbow EcoCenter to collect, filter and analyze local water. According to Dark, “citizen scientists” will be utilized in this project. “Investigating the presence of microplastics in our local waters is a great way for students and volunteers to connect with pressing water quality issues in our lagoon,” Dark revealed.
“The topic of microplastics is relevant because it is tied to our everyday habits and the choices we make that impact our environment,” Dark explained. “Investigating the presence of microplastics in our local waters is a great way for students and volunteers to connect with pressing water quality issues in our lagoon,” she continued.
According to the ELC’s Piotter, there’s a heightened awareness regarding single-use plastics like straws and bags, but few people know about microplastics. “We’ve all seen very sad images of our ocean and its wildlife littered with our plastic convenience-addiction. These large plastic items are quite disturbing to see but a growing body of evidence is bringing to light the danger of the bits and pieces we cannot see. As a nature education center, the ELC believes one solution to this massive problem is through education. If you don’t have the knowledge you also don’t have the power to change,” she added.
Admission is $5 for Adults and children 12 and older and $3 for Children 2 to 11 years old. FREE admission for children under 2 years old. ELC members get free admission every day. Free admission is also offered with proof of financial need: EBT card, Medicaid card, SNAP, TANF, or Free & Reduced Lunch Letter.