full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Sarah Dudas: Microplastics are everywhere -- but we can do something about them

Unscramble the Blue Letters

I'm going to tell you a story, and it's my story, but it's all of yours story too, and you'll soon see how. I asked my students to join me in the challenge of documenting how plastic tuoehcs our lives, by taking a photo every time we touch plastic. And at the end of that day, to put all of those pooths together in one spot. Here, I share with you my day of plastic. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, as a wkionrg mhoetr - I have two young daughters - you can see that plastic is in every single eelment of my day. And I've had to make the photos quite small because it was challenging to fit them all on to this slide. If you're looking closely, you might ntcioe that I've put mtullpie plastic items into many of the photos. It was quite oewihrnevlmg in the course of the day to take that many pictures, but you can see that plastic is in every single element of my day. Right from the start, when I woke up to the sounds of my plastic aalrm clock, the plastic packaging in the food that I ate, the clothing that I put on as I got ready to go outside, the pheons that I tlkead on at work a lot, right through the end of the day, when I tucked in my youngest daughter with her favorite sftefud aniaml, Pinky, synthetic, right down to the very last step of the day - a plastic book cover on the book that I was reading. Plastic is in every single element. When I put all of these photos together, I found the rsulet really shocking, but perhaps what's even more shocking is that we've only been using plastic since the 1950s. That's about 65 yares, and in that relatively sorht span of time, we have generated the estimated [8,300 million] meirtc tons of plastic on the planet. That's equivalent to 25,000 empire state buildings. Now, out of all of that plastic, only 9% has been reccyeld, and in my day of plastic, 9% looks like this. 60% has been thrown away. In my day of plsitac, 60% looks like this, leaving us with the 31% that's still being used. All of that plastic - over time, with the heat of the sun, light, oxygen, microbes - will brake down into smaller and smaller pieces. That may take 10 to 20 years for a plastic bag, upwards of 400 years for a plastic btolte, but over time, it will brake up in the smaller and smaller pceeis to what scientists now call microplastics. Microplastics are defined as any plastic less than five millimeters, so about the size of a grain of rice, and we divide these into two types. The first, pmrariy microplastics: plastic engineered to be small. And there are many reasons why we do this: medical, personal, industrial. Microbeads are one that many of you will be familiar with, now banned in many countries. Watch out for other microplastics in cosmetics, for example, synthetic fibers in mascara. petoyyslnre beads are used in many applications as stuffing and flotation; nurdles, a funny name for plastic resin pellets that can be used to make just about anything, and even things like gtlietr are croenisded primary microplastics. Then we have our secondary microplastics, and these are plastics that are created from the breakdown of those large materials: fragments from a plastic bottle, films from a plastic bag, fibers from netting, from rope, and even from our synthetic clothing. Now, microplastics are in my day of plastic too, but they are harder to see because of their small size. But rest assured, they were there from start to finish. In my morning cup of tea, plastic fibers in the ditceveelpy paper-looking-like tea bags - this is my last box - to the tire dust generated from my sentityhc polymer tires as I drove to preschool and to work, to the neudlrs in my daughter's stuffed animal and even the plastic gem on the ring that she found in the parking lot. Right through to the end of the day, the load of laundry I did, the lint from the dryer, containing synthetic fibers from our clothing, to my daughter's artwork that I hung up complete with sequins and glare, microplastics are everywhere. As scientists have looked across habitats and environments, we found that microplastics are everywhere: in different habitats - from freshwater to the oacen, from deep sea to the Arctic - and in ainmlas - from the bottom of the food chain and zooplankton and fish, all the way to the top, to marine mamalms and even in ourselves. Microplastics are everywhere, and as animals eat those plastics, it can have negative etfcfes on them. It can have physical impacts, begkcloas, aoaibrnss, or chemical ictmpas, either from the chemicals in the plastics leaching out or chemicals in the environment and contaminants sticking to the plastic themselves. And all of this can cearte negative health effects: decreases in growth, reproduction. The study of microplastics is a new one, and our knowledge of the impacts of microplastics is limteid, especially at the smlaelr sizes. And as we zoom down to those smaller sizes, right down to the level that's invisible to the nekad eye, about 100 microns or the thickness of the sheet of paper, we find microplastics there too. They are in my day of plastic, in the water that I drink, in the air that I breath, and we're only just learning about microplastics in food. My rresceah team has found microplastics in shellfish, in clams and in oysters. Other studies have found microplastics in chicken, honey, salt, beer, and we've yet to learn about mcitrpioslcas in other fdoos. Almost all of the microplastics that we've found, and in many other studies, have been fibers. We're still figuring out where these fibers come from, but synthetic clothing represents a significant potential source. Every year, 70 million tons of fibers are used in the clothing industry. Out of that 70 million, 60% are synthetic. And that's evident when you go shopping if you look at your labels. My daughter and I went shopping to get ready for this talk on a hunt for a natural fiber dressy shirt. We went to four major caidanan raelriets, and we struck out. So I snatd here today looking a little less formal that I might like, but feeling a whole lot more comfortable than I would if I were standing here talking to you about plastic while wearing it. Now, as we wash our clothes, fibers are rsaleeed, and a recent study took six-kilogram loads of lruadny - polyester cotton, polyester, and acrylic - and washed them. And they generated anywhere from 140,000 fibers for the poly-cotton mix to a whopping 700,000 fibers for acrylic, per load. Now, I took those nbumres and imagined that my family of four would generate a three-kilogram load of synthetic laundry a week. Multiply that up by 52 weeks a year, and my family alone generates 11 hundred million fibers a year - fibers that go into our sewage system, into our waterways, into the ocean, into our ecosystems, and into our food. Our microplastics are everywhere, but there is something that we can do about it almost everywhere we go, and it starts with the good old three R's from the 70s that we're familiar with: reduce, reuse, recycle. But we need to update these to add three new R's, starting with the first one: refuse. Refuse single use plastic, refuse any plastic you don't need, refuse straws, refuse coffee cups, think critically about what you need, think about where away is. If you can't refuse it, rdceue it. Think carefully about the plastic that you need, find natural alternatives where you can. There are many things that we can do to reduce fbier pollution, for example, you can use a fiber catcher like the Cora Ball, or use a bag to put your synthetics in, like the Guppyfriend from Patagonia, use a front-loading washing machine that generates fewer fbries than a top-loader. Use a filter on your washing machine to catch the fibers before they go into the wtear. All of these things will help reduce your fiber pollution. If you can't reduce it, rsuee it. Choose products that are built to last rather than those with panenld obsolescence. Try to get most life out of your plastic items that you can, and if you can't reuse it, of course, recycle it, but even the hard things, even the things that don't fit into your curbside recycling. In my case, that's plastic bags, styrofoam, electronics. If your ctoimnmuy doesn't have a flcaitiy to deal with these types of items, then create the demand and the need for it, it's worth your time. The second new R: rnteihk. We live in a sctieoy that doesn't place a high value on second-hand goods, we need to change that. We need to focus on services rather than rmecealpnet, and that is going to require the final new R, and perhaps the most challenging, which is to redesign. On a broader salce, we need to change our thinking from the linear model of make, take and dispose to one that's more cciralur in nature, to one in which we think about the end life of a product right at its beginning. Now, I went through my day of plastic and chsoe a number of items that follow that linear economy, that linear model of make, take and dispose, and I multiplied the images by the nbuemr of each one that I've used in my ltiemfie. Now, I'm proud and somewhat embarrassed to say that this is the alarm clock from my childhood, which doesn't say much for me keeping up with the times, but I've gone through a number of different appliances, computers, phones; I chose my daughter's backpack because in her seven years on this planet, she's already gone through three, and I've gone through more synthetic cnhliotg than I care to admit. This consumption model generates much more waste than it would in a circular economy, one which focuses on services, on repurposing, on refurbishing, rather than raceilnpg, one in which I might have one pohne, one computer that gets udeptad with laetst technology as it becomes available. Imagine a system in which you don't own your clothes, but burrow them or you rent them from the companies that you like, you wear them until you want something new, you send them back, they get rueeospprd into nweer styles you want to wear. Let's slow down fast fashion and fucos on quality rather than quantity. All of these things, with a change in our linear way of thinking, are within the realm of possibility, and many are already hnenppaig. Let's think outside the bottle and create room for innovation. Plastic is a valuable product, we are reliant on it, and a future without it is cmlpoeelty unrealistic. But we can't and we shouldn't continue to use it and produce it on the iscerannig trajectory that we are currently on. Plastic is resilient, it lasts a long time, and while that is a peblorm in one respect, it rtneeresps an oiontppurty in so many others. Microplastics are everywhere, and while that saecrs me, what gives me hope is knowing that the solutions are too. Thank you. (apaluspe) Winter Clark: I'm just so intrigued by these ideas of rethinking and redesigning, you know, fsicunog on repair and services rather than just throwing something out after one use. Do you think that those aspects of rethinking and rneigndseig are more important than continuing to reduce the amount of plastic that we use? Sarah Dudas: I think they're both important. On an individual level, it's very easy to reduce the amount of plastics that we use. Now, I challenge everybody here to try and do that every time you're offered plastic you don't really need. So we can make some smart individual choices, but we do need to rethink things at a broader level. There are some things that we're doing that we can improve upon. For example, in the food packaging industry, we package foods that have a shelf life of a few days to maybe a few years and pckangaig that lasts upwards of a few decades. This doesn't make sense, we need to rethink those mldoes, and with that will come a further rtiedocun in the way that we're using plastic. WC: algihrt, thanks. SD: Thanks. (Applause)

Open Cloze

I'm going to tell you a story, and it's my story, but it's all of yours story too, and you'll soon see how. I asked my students to join me in the challenge of documenting how plastic _______ our lives, by taking a photo every time we touch plastic. And at the end of that day, to put all of those ______ together in one spot. Here, I share with you my day of plastic. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, as a _______ ______ - I have two young daughters - you can see that plastic is in every single _______ of my day. And I've had to make the photos quite small because it was challenging to fit them all on to this slide. If you're looking closely, you might ______ that I've put ________ plastic items into many of the photos. It was quite ____________ in the course of the day to take that many pictures, but you can see that plastic is in every single element of my day. Right from the start, when I woke up to the sounds of my plastic _____ clock, the plastic packaging in the food that I ate, the clothing that I put on as I got ready to go outside, the ______ that I ______ on at work a lot, right through the end of the day, when I tucked in my youngest daughter with her favorite _______ ______, Pinky, synthetic, right down to the very last step of the day - a plastic book cover on the book that I was reading. Plastic is in every single element. When I put all of these photos together, I found the ______ really shocking, but perhaps what's even more shocking is that we've only been using plastic since the 1950s. That's about 65 _____, and in that relatively _____ span of time, we have generated the estimated [8,300 million] ______ tons of plastic on the planet. That's equivalent to 25,000 empire state buildings. Now, out of all of that plastic, only 9% has been ________, and in my day of plastic, 9% looks like this. 60% has been thrown away. In my day of _______, 60% looks like this, leaving us with the 31% that's still being used. All of that plastic - over time, with the heat of the sun, light, oxygen, microbes - will brake down into smaller and smaller pieces. That may take 10 to 20 years for a plastic bag, upwards of 400 years for a plastic ______, but over time, it will brake up in the smaller and smaller ______ to what scientists now call microplastics. Microplastics are defined as any plastic less than five millimeters, so about the size of a grain of rice, and we divide these into two types. The first, _______ microplastics: plastic engineered to be small. And there are many reasons why we do this: medical, personal, industrial. Microbeads are one that many of you will be familiar with, now banned in many countries. Watch out for other microplastics in cosmetics, for example, synthetic fibers in mascara. ___________ beads are used in many applications as stuffing and flotation; nurdles, a funny name for plastic resin pellets that can be used to make just about anything, and even things like _______ are __________ primary microplastics. Then we have our secondary microplastics, and these are plastics that are created from the breakdown of those large materials: fragments from a plastic bottle, films from a plastic bag, fibers from netting, from rope, and even from our synthetic clothing. Now, microplastics are in my day of plastic too, but they are harder to see because of their small size. But rest assured, they were there from start to finish. In my morning cup of tea, plastic fibers in the ___________ paper-looking-like tea bags - this is my last box - to the tire dust generated from my _________ polymer tires as I drove to preschool and to work, to the _______ in my daughter's stuffed animal and even the plastic gem on the ring that she found in the parking lot. Right through to the end of the day, the load of laundry I did, the lint from the dryer, containing synthetic fibers from our clothing, to my daughter's artwork that I hung up complete with sequins and glare, microplastics are everywhere. As scientists have looked across habitats and environments, we found that microplastics are everywhere: in different habitats - from freshwater to the _____, from deep sea to the Arctic - and in _______ - from the bottom of the food chain and zooplankton and fish, all the way to the top, to marine _______ and even in ourselves. Microplastics are everywhere, and as animals eat those plastics, it can have negative _______ on them. It can have physical impacts, _________, _________, or chemical _______, either from the chemicals in the plastics leaching out or chemicals in the environment and contaminants sticking to the plastic themselves. And all of this can ______ negative health effects: decreases in growth, reproduction. The study of microplastics is a new one, and our knowledge of the impacts of microplastics is _______, especially at the _______ sizes. And as we zoom down to those smaller sizes, right down to the level that's invisible to the _____ eye, about 100 microns or the thickness of the sheet of paper, we find microplastics there too. They are in my day of plastic, in the water that I drink, in the air that I breath, and we're only just learning about microplastics in food. My ________ team has found microplastics in shellfish, in clams and in oysters. Other studies have found microplastics in chicken, honey, salt, beer, and we've yet to learn about _____________ in other _____. Almost all of the microplastics that we've found, and in many other studies, have been fibers. We're still figuring out where these fibers come from, but synthetic clothing represents a significant potential source. Every year, 70 million tons of fibers are used in the clothing industry. Out of that 70 million, 60% are synthetic. And that's evident when you go shopping if you look at your labels. My daughter and I went shopping to get ready for this talk on a hunt for a natural fiber dressy shirt. We went to four major ________ _________, and we struck out. So I _____ here today looking a little less formal that I might like, but feeling a whole lot more comfortable than I would if I were standing here talking to you about plastic while wearing it. Now, as we wash our clothes, fibers are ________, and a recent study took six-kilogram loads of _______ - polyester cotton, polyester, and acrylic - and washed them. And they generated anywhere from 140,000 fibers for the poly-cotton mix to a whopping 700,000 fibers for acrylic, per load. Now, I took those _______ and imagined that my family of four would generate a three-kilogram load of synthetic laundry a week. Multiply that up by 52 weeks a year, and my family alone generates 11 hundred million fibers a year - fibers that go into our sewage system, into our waterways, into the ocean, into our ecosystems, and into our food. Our microplastics are everywhere, but there is something that we can do about it almost everywhere we go, and it starts with the good old three R's from the 70s that we're familiar with: reduce, reuse, recycle. But we need to update these to add three new R's, starting with the first one: refuse. Refuse single use plastic, refuse any plastic you don't need, refuse straws, refuse coffee cups, think critically about what you need, think about where away is. If you can't refuse it, ______ it. Think carefully about the plastic that you need, find natural alternatives where you can. There are many things that we can do to reduce _____ pollution, for example, you can use a fiber catcher like the Cora Ball, or use a bag to put your synthetics in, like the Guppyfriend from Patagonia, use a front-loading washing machine that generates fewer ______ than a top-loader. Use a filter on your washing machine to catch the fibers before they go into the _____. All of these things will help reduce your fiber pollution. If you can't reduce it, _____ it. Choose products that are built to last rather than those with _______ obsolescence. Try to get most life out of your plastic items that you can, and if you can't reuse it, of course, recycle it, but even the hard things, even the things that don't fit into your curbside recycling. In my case, that's plastic bags, styrofoam, electronics. If your _________ doesn't have a ________ to deal with these types of items, then create the demand and the need for it, it's worth your time. The second new R: _______. We live in a _______ that doesn't place a high value on second-hand goods, we need to change that. We need to focus on services rather than ___________, and that is going to require the final new R, and perhaps the most challenging, which is to redesign. On a broader _____, we need to change our thinking from the linear model of make, take and dispose to one that's more ________ in nature, to one in which we think about the end life of a product right at its beginning. Now, I went through my day of plastic and _____ a number of items that follow that linear economy, that linear model of make, take and dispose, and I multiplied the images by the ______ of each one that I've used in my ________. Now, I'm proud and somewhat embarrassed to say that this is the alarm clock from my childhood, which doesn't say much for me keeping up with the times, but I've gone through a number of different appliances, computers, phones; I chose my daughter's backpack because in her seven years on this planet, she's already gone through three, and I've gone through more synthetic ________ than I care to admit. This consumption model generates much more waste than it would in a circular economy, one which focuses on services, on repurposing, on refurbishing, rather than _________, one in which I might have one _____, one computer that gets _______ with ______ technology as it becomes available. Imagine a system in which you don't own your clothes, but burrow them or you rent them from the companies that you like, you wear them until you want something new, you send them back, they get __________ into _____ styles you want to wear. Let's slow down fast fashion and _____ on quality rather than quantity. All of these things, with a change in our linear way of thinking, are within the realm of possibility, and many are already _________. Let's think outside the bottle and create room for innovation. Plastic is a valuable product, we are reliant on it, and a future without it is __________ unrealistic. But we can't and we shouldn't continue to use it and produce it on the __________ trajectory that we are currently on. Plastic is resilient, it lasts a long time, and while that is a _______ in one respect, it __________ an ___________ in so many others. Microplastics are everywhere, and while that ______ me, what gives me hope is knowing that the solutions are too. Thank you. (________) Winter Clark: I'm just so intrigued by these ideas of rethinking and redesigning, you know, ________ on repair and services rather than just throwing something out after one use. Do you think that those aspects of rethinking and ___________ are more important than continuing to reduce the amount of plastic that we use? Sarah Dudas: I think they're both important. On an individual level, it's very easy to reduce the amount of plastics that we use. Now, I challenge everybody here to try and do that every time you're offered plastic you don't really need. So we can make some smart individual choices, but we do need to rethink things at a broader level. There are some things that we're doing that we can improve upon. For example, in the food packaging industry, we package foods that have a shelf life of a few days to maybe a few years and _________ that lasts upwards of a few decades. This doesn't make sense, we need to rethink those ______, and with that will come a further _________ in the way that we're using plastic. WC: _______, thanks. SD: Thanks. (Applause)

Solution

  1. stuffed
  2. opportunity
  3. polystyrene
  4. number
  5. mother
  6. notice
  7. synthetic
  8. multiple
  9. packaging
  10. happening
  11. bottle
  12. deceptively
  13. lifetime
  14. impacts
  15. reduction
  16. metric
  17. touches
  18. photos
  19. pieces
  20. reuse
  21. laundry
  22. create
  23. naked
  24. reduce
  25. problem
  26. glitter
  27. replacement
  28. overwhelming
  29. canadian
  30. considered
  31. ocean
  32. short
  33. alarm
  34. research
  35. limited
  36. mammals
  37. applause
  38. phone
  39. animals
  40. recycled
  41. phones
  42. primary
  43. chose
  44. abrasions
  45. retailers
  46. element
  47. blockages
  48. microplastics
  49. society
  50. circular
  51. clothing
  52. focus
  53. models
  54. rethink
  55. represents
  56. fibers
  57. numbers
  58. foods
  59. talked
  60. community
  61. alright
  62. nurdles
  63. fiber
  64. animal
  65. updated
  66. planned
  67. replacing
  68. latest
  69. newer
  70. increasing
  71. redesigning
  72. result
  73. scares
  74. water
  75. stand
  76. repurposed
  77. facility
  78. plastic
  79. released
  80. effects
  81. working
  82. focusing
  83. smaller
  84. completely
  85. years
  86. scale

Original Text

I'm going to tell you a story, and it's my story, but it's all of yours story too, and you'll soon see how. I asked my students to join me in the challenge of documenting how plastic touches our lives, by taking a photo every time we touch plastic. And at the end of that day, to put all of those photos together in one spot. Here, I share with you my day of plastic. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, as a working mother - I have two young daughters - you can see that plastic is in every single element of my day. And I've had to make the photos quite small because it was challenging to fit them all on to this slide. If you're looking closely, you might notice that I've put multiple plastic items into many of the photos. It was quite overwhelming in the course of the day to take that many pictures, but you can see that plastic is in every single element of my day. Right from the start, when I woke up to the sounds of my plastic alarm clock, the plastic packaging in the food that I ate, the clothing that I put on as I got ready to go outside, the phones that I talked on at work a lot, right through the end of the day, when I tucked in my youngest daughter with her favorite stuffed animal, Pinky, synthetic, right down to the very last step of the day - a plastic book cover on the book that I was reading. Plastic is in every single element. When I put all of these photos together, I found the result really shocking, but perhaps what's even more shocking is that we've only been using plastic since the 1950s. That's about 65 years, and in that relatively short span of time, we have generated the estimated [8,300 million] metric tons of plastic on the planet. That's equivalent to 25,000 empire state buildings. Now, out of all of that plastic, only 9% has been recycled, and in my day of plastic, 9% looks like this. 60% has been thrown away. In my day of plastic, 60% looks like this, leaving us with the 31% that's still being used. All of that plastic - over time, with the heat of the sun, light, oxygen, microbes - will brake down into smaller and smaller pieces. That may take 10 to 20 years for a plastic bag, upwards of 400 years for a plastic bottle, but over time, it will brake up in the smaller and smaller pieces to what scientists now call microplastics. Microplastics are defined as any plastic less than five millimeters, so about the size of a grain of rice, and we divide these into two types. The first, primary microplastics: plastic engineered to be small. And there are many reasons why we do this: medical, personal, industrial. Microbeads are one that many of you will be familiar with, now banned in many countries. Watch out for other microplastics in cosmetics, for example, synthetic fibers in mascara. Polystyrene beads are used in many applications as stuffing and flotation; nurdles, a funny name for plastic resin pellets that can be used to make just about anything, and even things like glitter are considered primary microplastics. Then we have our secondary microplastics, and these are plastics that are created from the breakdown of those large materials: fragments from a plastic bottle, films from a plastic bag, fibers from netting, from rope, and even from our synthetic clothing. Now, microplastics are in my day of plastic too, but they are harder to see because of their small size. But rest assured, they were there from start to finish. In my morning cup of tea, plastic fibers in the deceptively paper-looking-like tea bags - this is my last box - to the tire dust generated from my synthetic polymer tires as I drove to preschool and to work, to the nurdles in my daughter's stuffed animal and even the plastic gem on the ring that she found in the parking lot. Right through to the end of the day, the load of laundry I did, the lint from the dryer, containing synthetic fibers from our clothing, to my daughter's artwork that I hung up complete with sequins and glare, microplastics are everywhere. As scientists have looked across habitats and environments, we found that microplastics are everywhere: in different habitats - from freshwater to the ocean, from deep sea to the Arctic - and in animals - from the bottom of the food chain and zooplankton and fish, all the way to the top, to marine mammals and even in ourselves. Microplastics are everywhere, and as animals eat those plastics, it can have negative effects on them. It can have physical impacts, blockages, abrasions, or chemical impacts, either from the chemicals in the plastics leaching out or chemicals in the environment and contaminants sticking to the plastic themselves. And all of this can create negative health effects: decreases in growth, reproduction. The study of microplastics is a new one, and our knowledge of the impacts of microplastics is limited, especially at the smaller sizes. And as we zoom down to those smaller sizes, right down to the level that's invisible to the naked eye, about 100 microns or the thickness of the sheet of paper, we find microplastics there too. They are in my day of plastic, in the water that I drink, in the air that I breath, and we're only just learning about microplastics in food. My research team has found microplastics in shellfish, in clams and in oysters. Other studies have found microplastics in chicken, honey, salt, beer, and we've yet to learn about microplastics in other foods. Almost all of the microplastics that we've found, and in many other studies, have been fibers. We're still figuring out where these fibers come from, but synthetic clothing represents a significant potential source. Every year, 70 million tons of fibers are used in the clothing industry. Out of that 70 million, 60% are synthetic. And that's evident when you go shopping if you look at your labels. My daughter and I went shopping to get ready for this talk on a hunt for a natural fiber dressy shirt. We went to four major Canadian retailers, and we struck out. So I stand here today looking a little less formal that I might like, but feeling a whole lot more comfortable than I would if I were standing here talking to you about plastic while wearing it. Now, as we wash our clothes, fibers are released, and a recent study took six-kilogram loads of laundry - polyester cotton, polyester, and acrylic - and washed them. And they generated anywhere from 140,000 fibers for the poly-cotton mix to a whopping 700,000 fibers for acrylic, per load. Now, I took those numbers and imagined that my family of four would generate a three-kilogram load of synthetic laundry a week. Multiply that up by 52 weeks a year, and my family alone generates 11 hundred million fibers a year - fibers that go into our sewage system, into our waterways, into the ocean, into our ecosystems, and into our food. Our microplastics are everywhere, but there is something that we can do about it almost everywhere we go, and it starts with the good old three R's from the 70s that we're familiar with: reduce, reuse, recycle. But we need to update these to add three new R's, starting with the first one: refuse. Refuse single use plastic, refuse any plastic you don't need, refuse straws, refuse coffee cups, think critically about what you need, think about where away is. If you can't refuse it, reduce it. Think carefully about the plastic that you need, find natural alternatives where you can. There are many things that we can do to reduce fiber pollution, for example, you can use a fiber catcher like the Cora Ball, or use a bag to put your synthetics in, like the Guppyfriend from Patagonia, use a front-loading washing machine that generates fewer fibers than a top-loader. Use a filter on your washing machine to catch the fibers before they go into the water. All of these things will help reduce your fiber pollution. If you can't reduce it, reuse it. Choose products that are built to last rather than those with planned obsolescence. Try to get most life out of your plastic items that you can, and if you can't reuse it, of course, recycle it, but even the hard things, even the things that don't fit into your curbside recycling. In my case, that's plastic bags, styrofoam, electronics. If your community doesn't have a facility to deal with these types of items, then create the demand and the need for it, it's worth your time. The second new R: rethink. We live in a society that doesn't place a high value on second-hand goods, we need to change that. We need to focus on services rather than replacement, and that is going to require the final new R, and perhaps the most challenging, which is to redesign. On a broader scale, we need to change our thinking from the linear model of make, take and dispose to one that's more circular in nature, to one in which we think about the end life of a product right at its beginning. Now, I went through my day of plastic and chose a number of items that follow that linear economy, that linear model of make, take and dispose, and I multiplied the images by the number of each one that I've used in my lifetime. Now, I'm proud and somewhat embarrassed to say that this is the alarm clock from my childhood, which doesn't say much for me keeping up with the times, but I've gone through a number of different appliances, computers, phones; I chose my daughter's backpack because in her seven years on this planet, she's already gone through three, and I've gone through more synthetic clothing than I care to admit. This consumption model generates much more waste than it would in a circular economy, one which focuses on services, on repurposing, on refurbishing, rather than replacing, one in which I might have one phone, one computer that gets updated with latest technology as it becomes available. Imagine a system in which you don't own your clothes, but burrow them or you rent them from the companies that you like, you wear them until you want something new, you send them back, they get repurposed into newer styles you want to wear. Let's slow down fast fashion and focus on quality rather than quantity. All of these things, with a change in our linear way of thinking, are within the realm of possibility, and many are already happening. Let's think outside the bottle and create room for innovation. Plastic is a valuable product, we are reliant on it, and a future without it is completely unrealistic. But we can't and we shouldn't continue to use it and produce it on the increasing trajectory that we are currently on. Plastic is resilient, it lasts a long time, and while that is a problem in one respect, it represents an opportunity in so many others. Microplastics are everywhere, and while that scares me, what gives me hope is knowing that the solutions are too. Thank you. (Applause) Winter Clark: I'm just so intrigued by these ideas of rethinking and redesigning, you know, focusing on repair and services rather than just throwing something out after one use. Do you think that those aspects of rethinking and redesigning are more important than continuing to reduce the amount of plastic that we use? Sarah Dudas: I think they're both important. On an individual level, it's very easy to reduce the amount of plastics that we use. Now, I challenge everybody here to try and do that every time you're offered plastic you don't really need. So we can make some smart individual choices, but we do need to rethink things at a broader level. There are some things that we're doing that we can improve upon. For example, in the food packaging industry, we package foods that have a shelf life of a few days to maybe a few years and packaging that lasts upwards of a few decades. This doesn't make sense, we need to rethink those models, and with that will come a further reduction in the way that we're using plastic. WC: Alright, thanks. SD: Thanks. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
single element 3
synthetic clothing 3
plastic items 2
smaller pieces 2
synthetic fibers 2
washing machine 2
linear model 2

Important Words

  1. abrasions
  2. acrylic
  3. add
  4. admit
  5. air
  6. alarm
  7. alright
  8. alternatives
  9. amount
  10. animal
  11. animals
  12. applause
  13. appliances
  14. applications
  15. arctic
  16. artwork
  17. asked
  18. aspects
  19. assured
  20. ate
  21. backpack
  22. bag
  23. bags
  24. ball
  25. banned
  26. beads
  27. bed
  28. beer
  29. beginning
  30. blockages
  31. book
  32. bottle
  33. bottom
  34. box
  35. brake
  36. breakdown
  37. breath
  38. broader
  39. buildings
  40. built
  41. burrow
  42. call
  43. canadian
  44. care
  45. carefully
  46. case
  47. catch
  48. catcher
  49. chain
  50. challenge
  51. challenging
  52. change
  53. chemical
  54. chemicals
  55. chicken
  56. childhood
  57. choices
  58. choose
  59. chose
  60. circular
  61. clams
  62. clock
  63. closely
  64. clothes
  65. clothing
  66. coffee
  67. comfortable
  68. community
  69. companies
  70. complete
  71. completely
  72. computer
  73. computers
  74. considered
  75. consumption
  76. contaminants
  77. continue
  78. continuing
  79. cora
  80. cosmetics
  81. cotton
  82. countries
  83. cover
  84. create
  85. created
  86. critically
  87. cup
  88. cups
  89. curbside
  90. daughter
  91. daughters
  92. day
  93. days
  94. deal
  95. decades
  96. deceptively
  97. decreases
  98. deep
  99. defined
  100. demand
  101. dispose
  102. divide
  103. documenting
  104. dressy
  105. drink
  106. drove
  107. dryer
  108. dust
  109. easy
  110. eat
  111. economy
  112. ecosystems
  113. effects
  114. electronics
  115. element
  116. embarrassed
  117. empire
  118. engineered
  119. environment
  120. environments
  121. equivalent
  122. estimated
  123. evident
  124. eye
  125. facility
  126. familiar
  127. family
  128. fashion
  129. fast
  130. favorite
  131. feeling
  132. fiber
  133. fibers
  134. figuring
  135. films
  136. filter
  137. final
  138. find
  139. finish
  140. fish
  141. fit
  142. focus
  143. focuses
  144. focusing
  145. follow
  146. food
  147. foods
  148. formal
  149. fragments
  150. freshwater
  151. funny
  152. future
  153. gem
  154. generate
  155. generated
  156. generates
  157. glare
  158. glitter
  159. good
  160. goods
  161. grain
  162. growth
  163. guppyfriend
  164. habitats
  165. happening
  166. hard
  167. harder
  168. health
  169. heat
  170. high
  171. honey
  172. hope
  173. hung
  174. hunt
  175. ideas
  176. images
  177. imagine
  178. imagined
  179. impacts
  180. important
  181. improve
  182. increasing
  183. individual
  184. industrial
  185. industry
  186. innovation
  187. intrigued
  188. invisible
  189. items
  190. join
  191. keeping
  192. knowing
  193. knowledge
  194. labels
  195. large
  196. lasts
  197. latest
  198. laundry
  199. leaching
  200. learn
  201. learning
  202. leaving
  203. level
  204. life
  205. lifetime
  206. light
  207. limited
  208. linear
  209. lint
  210. live
  211. lives
  212. load
  213. loads
  214. long
  215. looked
  216. lot
  217. machine
  218. major
  219. mammals
  220. marine
  221. mascara
  222. medical
  223. metric
  224. microbeads
  225. microbes
  226. microns
  227. microplastics
  228. millimeters
  229. million
  230. mix
  231. model
  232. models
  233. moment
  234. morning
  235. mother
  236. multiple
  237. multiplied
  238. multiply
  239. naked
  240. natural
  241. nature
  242. negative
  243. netting
  244. newer
  245. notice
  246. number
  247. numbers
  248. nurdles
  249. obsolescence
  250. ocean
  251. offered
  252. opportunity
  253. overwhelming
  254. oxygen
  255. oysters
  256. package
  257. packaging
  258. paper
  259. parking
  260. patagonia
  261. pellets
  262. personal
  263. phone
  264. phones
  265. photo
  266. photos
  267. physical
  268. pictures
  269. pieces
  270. pinky
  271. place
  272. planet
  273. planned
  274. plastic
  275. plastics
  276. pollution
  277. polyester
  278. polymer
  279. polystyrene
  280. possibility
  281. potential
  282. preschool
  283. primary
  284. problem
  285. produce
  286. product
  287. products
  288. proud
  289. put
  290. quality
  291. quantity
  292. reading
  293. ready
  294. realm
  295. reasons
  296. recycle
  297. recycled
  298. recycling
  299. redesign
  300. redesigning
  301. reduce
  302. reduction
  303. refurbishing
  304. refuse
  305. released
  306. reliant
  307. rent
  308. repair
  309. replacement
  310. replacing
  311. represents
  312. reproduction
  313. repurposed
  314. repurposing
  315. require
  316. research
  317. resilient
  318. resin
  319. respect
  320. rest
  321. result
  322. retailers
  323. rethink
  324. rethinking
  325. reuse
  326. rice
  327. ring
  328. room
  329. rope
  330. salt
  331. sarah
  332. scale
  333. scares
  334. scientists
  335. sea
  336. secondary
  337. send
  338. sense
  339. sequins
  340. services
  341. sewage
  342. share
  343. sheet
  344. shelf
  345. shellfish
  346. shirt
  347. shocking
  348. shopping
  349. short
  350. significant
  351. single
  352. size
  353. sizes
  354. slide
  355. slow
  356. small
  357. smaller
  358. smart
  359. society
  360. solutions
  361. sounds
  362. source
  363. span
  364. spot
  365. stand
  366. standing
  367. start
  368. starting
  369. starts
  370. state
  371. step
  372. sticking
  373. story
  374. straws
  375. struck
  376. students
  377. studies
  378. study
  379. stuffed
  380. stuffing
  381. styles
  382. styrofoam
  383. sun
  384. synthetic
  385. synthetics
  386. system
  387. talk
  388. talked
  389. talking
  390. tea
  391. team
  392. technology
  393. thickness
  394. thinking
  395. throwing
  396. thrown
  397. time
  398. times
  399. tire
  400. tires
  401. today
  402. tons
  403. top
  404. touch
  405. touches
  406. trajectory
  407. tucked
  408. types
  409. unrealistic
  410. update
  411. updated
  412. valuable
  413. wash
  414. washed
  415. washing
  416. waste
  417. watch
  418. water
  419. waterways
  420. wear
  421. wearing
  422. week
  423. weeks
  424. whopping
  425. winter
  426. woke
  427. work
  428. working
  429. worth
  430. year
  431. years
  432. young
  433. youngest
  434. zoom
  435. zooplankton