Plastic Free Waters: Microplastics and Human Health Meeting

Barent Roth of the New School, Phoebe Stapleton of Rutgers University, Scott Fallon of the Bergen Record and Lisa Kaas Boyle of the Plastic Pollution Coalition come together to discuss the dangers of microplastics to both the natural environment and human health, and answer questions on the future of microplastics at our November Partnership Meeting.

Last week (12 November, 2019) PFWP held a meeting at the New School. Titled ‘Microplastics and Human Health’, which featured experts on plastics, microplastics and their impact on human health from a variety of professional backgrounds.

Professor Barent Roth of the New School, professor at the Parsons School of Design‘s BFA Product Design and MFA Industrial Design programs.

Lisa Kaas Boyle is an environmental attorney and founder/activist from the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Scott Fallon is an investigative reporter who has covered the environment at The Bergen Record since 2008, concentrating on the legacy of industrial pollution in New Jersey.

Dr. Phoebe Stapleton, an Assistant Professor in the Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and the Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology.

Moderating the event was Catie Tobin, who is the Microplastics Researcher for Clean Ocean Action (COA).

Speaker Presentations:

Partnership Meeting With Surfrider, Lonely Whale, and Harbor Estuary Program

Partnership Updates:

Sarah Edwards -Eunomia/PFWP, Rosana da Silva – Harbor Estuary Program, Pamela Pettyjohn – Coney Island Beautification Project, Jordan Christensen – Citizens Campaign, Laura Rosenshine – Food Print Group give updates on the recent actions and progress of their respective organizations to reduce plastic waste

Panel Discussion: Rosana da Silva – Harbor Estuary Program, Matt Gove – Surfrider, Emy Kane – Lonely Whale

Rosana da Silva of Harbor Estuary Program, Matt Gove of Surfrider and Emy Kane of Lonely Whale sit down to discuss and answer questions on the future of single-use plastics at our June Partnership Meeting.

Panelist Presentations

Harbor Estuary Program Presentation

Surfrider Presentation

Working Group Updates and News from the November 13, 2018 Plastic Free Waters Partnership Meeting

Plastic Bag Work Group

Jordan Christensen reports that the Bag Work Group’s current focus is on supporting education and outreach in areas that are currently in the process of introducing or considering legislation on plastic bags. This includes identifying how to get bills off the ground, including the key environmental and economic talking points. The group has also identified other types of plastic bag outreach and education actions that could be transferable to other areas.   This includes ideas like”take a bag leave a bag”, getting reusable bags for delivery at restaurants included in bag bills, and incentive programs for people who bring their own bag. Efforts like these could help supplement policy with education and engagement.


Messaging Group

Lisa Ruggero reports that the Messaging Group is working on a half-page flyer for partnership members to use when they are at public events to spread the word about the Plastic Free Waters Partnership. The flyer’s call-to-action is going to center on how to join the partnership and why. The flyer will include the Plastic Free Waters”hashtag”. The flyer will be finalized in 1 month of the October meeting.

The messaging group is also working to align messaging strategy with specific materials, based on the workgroup activities.  A different material will be the focus of social media and messaging strategy each quarter. This will also take into account current legislation— for example, the messaging group will be focusing on the upcoming Styrofoam ban in NYC to align messages and approaches. The messaging group will also produce  reminders and promotional material, such as curated Instagram posts, tweets, and social media templates that can be used by partners. Concurrently, the messaging group is identifying ways to tout the success of partner members and highlight achievements. 

Microplastics Work Group

Catie Tobin of the Microplastics working group reports that they will be implementing a survey for people working on the issue of microplastics to best identify the short and long term priorities.

Balloon Task Force

Dini Checko reports that the Balloon Task Force is looking for members. Clean Ocean Action, a PFW partner, has found an uptick in the amount of balloon pieces collected. Virginia Clean Waters has also found that there is a large percentage of debris coming from plastic balloons. The first priority for this task force is to put together a communications package that includes facts, resources, and other essential information on the impacts of balloon releases. Balloons could be the next straws, and we need to ensure that people understand the impact of this kind of material

Reusables Task Force

Karen Bray reports that the new Reusables Task Force (formerly the to-go container working group and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board) will be working specifically on shifting away from single use to-go containers to reusable materials in New York City. There will be five workstreams: 1.) market research 2.) pilot programs in order to show success and feasibility 3.) policy research to identify barriers to policies about this topic 4.) promotions and brand awareness and 5.) partnerships and funding (atthis point premature, still looking at proof of concept).

Straws Work Group

Allison McCarthy reports that the main priority for the Straws group is to develop and distribute a toolkit specifically for  restaurants with resources for taking the first steps to eliminate plastic straws, switch to paper or reusable alternatives (if necessary), and educate customers. The straws work group is also working on how to engage the disability community in conversations about straws, and how to address needs of people living with disabilities. The straws work group is also focusing on ensuring that information and developments, such as engaging new businesses and restaurants,is shared between working groups and PFW member organizations.

Plastic Free Water Partnership Meeting: November 13, 2018

The Plastic Free Waters  Partnership welcomes you to join us for our next full partnership meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Please RSVP here.

The meeting will take place at the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, 290 Broadway, NY, NY 10007, room 27A. The meeting will feature a panel discussion on DESIGN, INNOVATION and CIRCULAR ECONOMY.The afternoon will be dedicated to workgroup breakout sessions. A full agenda is coming soon.

9:30- 10 – Pre-meeting networking and coffee
10-noon – Panel and updates
12:15-1:45 Workgroup breakout sessions
1:45- 2:15 Workgroup Announcements


Please RSVP to the meeting and specify if you are attending in person or remotely (by phone/computer; details for conferencing are below).

Working Group Updates from March 2018 Plastic Free Waters Meeting

Bag Group Update:

  • Policy: The bag group is exploring how to build up local efforts to support plastic bag policies, such as educational campaigns, reaching out to residents, businesses, and to elected officials.
  • Leading by example: The bag working group is exploring lessons learned from businesses that have already done away with plastic, such as Costco.
  • Strategy: The bag working group is investigating strategies for how to get people to break the habit of using plastic bags. This involves gaining an understanding of the best alternatives, identifying key stakeholders, and identifying promising communities, such as Nassau County, to outreach to.  The role of environmental clubs and school groups has been critical for passing legislation in previous cases. The bag group is investigating why policies stall or fail to be implemented, as part of this approach.

Bottle Group Update:

  • Disseminating educational materials : A major short term goal of the bottle working group is to increase access and usage of bottle refilling stations. The working group is planning activities for sharing information about plastics pollution and encouraging reusables. This includes social media posts, flyers, and other materials that will be shared with stakeholders– starting with schools.
  • Raising awareness and encouraging use of reusable bottles in schools: A major strategic focus will be to target younger people that share concern over plastics pollution, as younger generations are poised to successfully push for change. The working group is looking into how to best engage schools.
  • Developing a database of refilling stations:  The bottle working group is planning activities for building a database of refilling station  with mapping capabilities. This will make it easier for people to find and use refilling stations. ReeFill will continue to install and maintain stations. However, a database would assist PFW identify trends with respect to station locations, and gain a sense of how accessible they are to different public audiences. Ultimately this information could assist PFW push for more publicly accessible refilling stations.

To-Go Container Group Update:

  • Engaging NY Businesses: the to-go container working group has partnered with the Solid Waste Advisory Board to expand the use of reusable containers in local businesses in New York. This will also involve outreach to restaurant groups and chains.
  • Toolkit for Business Owners: the to-go container working group will develop a toolkit for businesses on standard operating procedures for reusable to-go containers. This toolkit would also include lists of containers for businesses to use and to list on their website.
  • Long Term Aims: The to-go container working group is also exploring how to work with the NY Department of Health on how to make standard operating procedures easier for businesses to comply with, and improve knowledge and understanding of compliance. At the same time, the working group is staying abreast of developments for 135 legislation to ban styrofoam.

Microplastic group

  • Defining Goals and Objectives: The microplastics working group is finalizing a set of goals and objectives to focus future work. These will be posted publicly on the PFW website soon. These goals emphasize the importance of identifying research priorities and gaps, supporting standardized methodologies for microplastics sampling and analysis, increasing public education efforts, and engaging both manufacturers and policy makers to develop solutions, and considering parties across the supply chain in working towards a circular economy. The working group is exploring options for public-health focused goals and activities.

Plastic Straw Group Update:

  • Strategy: The straw group is working to identify effective strategies to reduce plastic straw pollution. This includes exploring the roles of business alliances, in particular the impacts of getting all the restaurants and groups in a downtown area on board with the same straw policy, and the role of customer support.
  • Plastic Straw Upon Request Policies: the straw working group is discussing the possibility of starting a running list of straw campaigns, and having a database of the different kinds of plastics legislation that people can consult. This would allow people to easily locate local ordinances and other resolutions, especially those relevant to plastic straws.
  • Pros and cons of straw alternatives: The straw working group is building out pros and cons of the available straw alternatives, such as paper straws, aluminum straws, and the reusable straws such as stainless steel straws.

Plastic Free Waters Hosts Panel Discussion on Microfibers

Catie Tobin (researcher, Clean Ocean Action) moderated this engaging Microfibers Panel Discussion for the Plastic Free Waters Partnership (PFWP) meeting, October 26, 2017, hosted by The New School in New York City. Panelists were Rachael Miller (Rozalia Project), Laura Sansone (The New School) and Carolyn Box (5 Gyres). The discussion included an overview of the microfibers problem and challenges, current research, the latest on solutions, best practices, and calls for action.

Plastic Free Waters Partnership NY/NJ Meeting

Plastic Free Waters Partnership NY/NJ Meeting


October 26, 2017

Location: The New School

65 West 11th Street, room 500, New York, NY 10011

Please join us for the Plastic Free Waters Partnership NY/NJ meeting onThursday, October 26, 2017 at the New School.

Your participation and collaboration to address the growing challenges of marine plastic and microplastic debris in the New Jersey and New York region is needed more than ever!

If you cannot make it to this meeting in person, you will be able to call in and participate via phone.

Please RSVP to and specify if you are attending in person or by phone.

The Plastic Free Waters Partnership joins the FCNY


The Plastic Free Waters Partnership is proud to announce its affiliation with the FCNY!

The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. For over three decades, in partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond.
The Fund seeks out, adapts, applies and assesses ways to enable government and nonprofit agencies to achieve excellence through its core programs—the Cash Flow Loan Program, the Incubator/Partner Project ProgramTechnology Consulting, the Sloan Public Service Awards, and the Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics—and through three strategic initiatives: the Center on Government Performance, the Center for Internet Innovation and E-Community Connect.