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South Fork Natural History Museum Focuses on Plastics Crisis

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 20:46

The South Fork Natural History Museum is making a fuss about plastics.

On Saturday, SoFo will host Judith S. Weis, professor emerita of biological sciences at Rutgers University, for a talk and question-and-answer session on the international plastics crisis, how it affects the food chain, and what can be done to stem the impact.

"Once considered wonderful because it didn't decay or break, now we see the consequences of [plastic] not breaking down," SoFo says on its website. "It's found on beaches throughout the world, in rivers, lakes, the ocean, and on the ocean bottom, even in the deepest trenches seven miles down."

The talk will be at 7 p.m. at the museum, 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. SoFo asks guests to register their attendance ahead of time by calling 631-537-9735.

Ms. Weis's talk is right on time.

It comes just as local, state, and even national municipalities have plastics in their crosshairs. Both East Hampton Town and Southampton Town have already banned single-use plastic bags, straws, and stirrers -- years ahead of New York State's bag ban, which was adopted May 1 this year and goes into effect in March of 2020. Suffolk County also enacted similar legislation on plastic bags in 2018. Some local municipalities have also banned or are considering banning food containers composed of polystyrene.

Experts have said plastics are a major risk to the health of the environment and its inhabitants. In 2018, a young leatherback sea turtle was found dead on a Southampton Town beach with a 13-gallon bag and other plastics in its gastrointestinal system. According to the nonprofit Plastic Oceans, by 2018 Americans were using plastics at a rate of about 300 million tons per year, with half of that in the form of single-use plastics like straws, bags, and disposable bottles.

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