Think Global, Act Local: Local Knowledge Is Critical to Inform Positive Change When It Comes to Microplastics. Environmental Science & Technology . SFEI Contribution No. 1024.2020.
Microplastic contamination in the marine environment is a global issue. Across the world, policies at the national and international level are needed to facilitate the scale of change needed to tackle this significant problem. However, sources and patterns of plastic contamination vary around the world, and the most pressing actions differ from one location to another. Therefore, local policies are a critical part of the solution; recognizing local sources will enable mitigations with measurable impacts. Here, we highlight how investigating the contamination comprehensively in one location can inform relevant mitigation strategies that can be transferred globally. We examine the San Francisco Bay in California, USA—the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, and home to over 7 million people. The local contamination of microplastics in surface water, sediments, and fish from this urban bay is reportedly higher than many places studied to date.(1) This example demonstrates the value of local monitoring in identifying sources, informing local mitigation strategies and developing an array of solutions to stem the multifaceted tide of plastic pollution entering our global oceans.