UNF and Eckerd College receives $150,000 grant for ocean debris reduction program

Darvin Nelson, News Editor

UNF and Eckerd College are working together to reduce plastic in the oceans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) awarded both institutions a $150,000 grant, called “Toward Sustainable Campuses – Individual Accountability in Single-Use Plastic Reduction Campaigns.”

The collaboration sought to change “individual single-use plastic consumption behaviors through education, outreach and challenge events by adding a personal tracking mechanism via a mobile phone application,” reported the Florida Insider

The initiative, set in motion by Eckerd college in 2018, has a new study that replicates the project on the UNF campus. Eckerd college will manage the grant, surveys, challenges, and collect analytical data from the app.

The app will allow users to take part in plastic reduction challenges, log single-use plastic use, and gain real-time feedback on behavior. Workshops, lectures, events, and beach clean-up activities will be used to help increase awareness of plastic reduction. 

According to the  NOAA, about eight million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 – the weight of almost 90 aircraft carriers. Plastic does not decompose and can stick around indefinitely to “wreak havoc” on marine ecosystems. Some plastics float, but much of it breaks down into microplastics. Microplastics can absorb harmful pollutants – such as pesticides, flame retardants, and dyes – then release them into the ocean.

In the 2017 International Coastal Clean-up, some of the top 10 kinds of single-use plastics that were found were food wrappers, beverage bottles, grocery bags, straws, and take out containers.

UNF has many small bodies of water that may sometimes be subject to plastic pollution by students. Efforts against this were made by the UNF Environmental Advocacy Reach club (EAR), when they created signs that promoted the reduction of single-use plastics.

Photo courtesy of EAR.
Photo by Darvin Nelson.

What can you do to help reduce your single-use plastic use? How much plastic do you use? Do you recycle? Does UNF recycle? Asking yourself important questions can help you get an idea of what steps you can take in order to help reduce the use of single-use plastics.

“It’s a problem, but it’s one we can do something about.” – NOAA.


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