The Scourge of the Nurdle

Plastic is an integral part of our lives. In fact, it would be hard to live without the benefits that plastics have brought to us. In our little corner of the world, many members of our community rely on plastics manufacturing to make a living. Plastic is a truly wonderful invention, unfortunately, how we dispose of plastic is an issue. Just ask Rhiannon Moore who works for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation as a Coastal Outreach Specialist. Rhiannon raised awareness about plastic pollution by going “plastic-free” for the entire month of January 2017.

Rhiannon Moore will be our discussion Leader at Green Drinks Sarnia on July 12 on the topic of Microplastics in the Great Lakes. Rhiannon is a graduate from the University of Waterloo, and, prior to working at the Coastal Centre, worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Parks Canada. In April, Rhiannon took part in an all-female science and outreach expedition to sample the Caribbean Sea for microplastics, contributing to our understanding of the amount of plastics in the Atlantic Ocean.

Whether it’s litter, overflowing or unsecured trashcans, or the personal-care products that you wash down the drain, only 5% of used plastic items end up being recycled.

This brings me around to the Nurdle. A Nurdle is a very small pellet of plastic that serves as a raw material in the manufacture of plastic products. Typically, these nurdles are less than 5 millimetres in size and go down to micro beads, the products used as scrubbers in such products as toothpaste and shampoo.

In February 2014, Karen Alexander of the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in her Green Drinks discussion called the “Great Garbage Patch” quoted that researchers from UWO discovered ~5,000 nurdles of plastic per square kilometre in Lake Huron and in Lake Erie, a smaller lake with larger urban centers, they found 600,000 micro-plastic bits per square kilometre.

According to Rhiannon these numbers are increasing along with the increase in plastic production and its uses. A new study by the Rochester Institute of Technology found that nearly 10,000 metric tonnes or 22 million pounds of plastic debris enters the Great Lakes every year from the United States and Canada. That’s the equivalent of 100 Olympic size pools!

Rhiannon will lead an engaging discussion and present to those attending both the impacts and solutions to this growing problem our lakes and oceans are facing.

Green Drinks Sarnia is a monthly environmental discussion whose purpose is to create a friendly atmosphere in which to look at current issues that affect us with a balanced view.

Each month a topic is selected and a person knowledgeable about the topic is asked to lead the discussion.

Green Drinks Sarnia happens on the second Wednesday of every month.
Green Drinks Sarnia is held at 100 Christina Street in downtown Sarnia.
Green Drinks Sarnia is always agenda free.
And perhaps most importantly, Green Drinks Sarnia is always free to attend.
At each session, we provide a light snack from the One Tomato Kitchen’s – Food Works grade seven healthy eating and cooking program. Beer and Wine are also available.