Coastal Connections: Mind Your Microplastics

Rural resilience researcher, Jackie Bauman, hosts another episode of Coastal Routes Radio, a radio program made up of an international collaboration of communities, scholars, activists, and others who are dedicated to supporting the health, resilience, and sustainability of coastal communities around the world. Coastal Connections is a volume of Coastal Routes Radio, produced in partnership with the University of Guelph and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland. For more information, visit their website:

On Episode 7, Jackie is joined by Dr. Max Liboiron (founder of CLEAR Lab), Krista Beardy (microplastics researcher from UNB), and Ariel Smith (Coastal Action) to discuss microplastics.

Dr. Liboiron is one of the leading plastic monitoring researchers in Newfoundland and Labrador and now works in one of the most robust, large-scale, multi-environmental monitoring programs in the Arctic. They help us understand the difference between pellets, filaments, threads, microfibers, fragments, microbeads, film plastics, giving insight into where the plastic originated. Their research lab has developed open source technologies to help communities monitor plastic themselves. Plastic pollution is completely different depending on the locality within the province, so localized methods are currently being developed to maximize citizen scientist efforts.

Krista Beardy’s research focuses on how to remove plastics from the ocean. Krista uses a bottom-up approach, working with bivalves and benthic environments to measure the impacts of plastic pollution on marine food chains. Plastic pollution is a problem at every level, from whole items to broken down microplastics, which eventually end up in our food, air, and drinking water.

Ariel Smith works with Coastal Action and recently completed a 3-year plastic sampling program on plastic pollution. This program helps train local communities on methods of plastic research. They hope to make this information available to communities to help them understand how plastic is in the local environment. Additionally, Ariel is working on a proposal to bring together different datasets on microplastics. Local knowledge is invaluable and makes the research more effective, and can impact governance.

We know that 80% of plastic that ends in the ocean is land-based, so efforts need to focus on capturing these sources. As individuals, we can reduce plastic use and use alternative solutions. Also, we can become citizen scientists and clean up the oceans near you. At a larger scale, speak up to businesses and local governments to make changes through policy. Listen to the podcast below to learn more about how you can limit your plastic use!

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