Join us for a virtual Cary Science Conversation with ecologist and author Dr. Michael SanClements. In conversation with Cary President Josh Ginsberg, SanClements discusses the history and pervasiveness of plastics, what to consider when choosing which plastics to use, and why reducing plastic consumption can benefit the environment and our health.
Every year, millions of tons of plastic trash is delivered to landfills, where it will persist for hundreds to thousands of years. Globally, over 90% of the plastic that we throw away is not recycled. Plastic that is recycled requires fossil fuel to transport and process. The rest ends up scattered around the landscape, much of which eventually flows into oceans.
Chemical byproducts are another concern. Some plastics emit harmful chemicals that are released into our bodies and the environment, with a range of negative effects. We are still learning which plastics are ‘safe’, and which could be toxic.
But it’s not all bad. Despite their many harms, plastics have also allowed us to develop essential technologies found in medical equipment, computers, and infrastructure needed for things like transportation and communication.
Author of the book Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body and Help Save the Sea Turtles, SanClements is an advocate for wise plastic consumption. SanClements explores the ‘good, the bad, and the ugly’ of plastics, with recommendations for which plastic products to embrace, reduce, and eliminate. By using plastics selectively, SanClements offers practical tips to benefit the environment and help us lead healthier lives.
This event is co-sponsored by The Millbrook Garden Club.
Dr. Michael SanClements leads the Terrestrial Instrument Science Team at the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and is an Associate Faculty Member of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Mike is a forest soil scientist whose research has expanded into the limnology and the biogeochemistry of temperate and polar ecosystems. Beyond research, SanClements is interested in science outreach, journalism, and climate adaptation.
SanClements holds a BS in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana, an MS in Soil Science from North Carolina State University and a PhD in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine.