The mission of the Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network (VPPPN) is to promote and facilitate coordination, collaboration, and communication among groups working to reduce plastic pollution throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

January 2024

Welcome to the Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network (VPPPN).

In this edition:

  • Next Meeting is Tuesday, January 16 at 2 pm: Special Guest Elly Boehmer Wilson, State Director for Environment Virginia
  • Plastic Pollution Coalition FREE Webinar: Plastic-Free Resolutions
  • Plastic reduction tips
  • Ocean Conservancy's 2023 Report #Seathechange
  • Microplastics research work at George Mason
  • Get Involved: Clean Up / Invasive Plant Removal Opportunity - join the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the National Park Service January 15, 1-3pm
  • Sierra Club FREE Webinar- Waste to Energy and Plastic Pollution
  • Happy New Year!

January Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network Meeting

The Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network will have a meeting on Zoom on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 (2:00 to 3:30 p.m.) We will be joined by Elly Boehmer-Wilson, the State Director for Environment Virginia to share updates about plastic and recycling legislation at the 2024 Virginia General Assembly!

The meeting will be available on zoom:

Zoom Link

Plastic Pollution Coalition Webinar:

Plastic-Free Resolutions:

Protecting Your Health in 2024

January 18, 2024 , 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST

Join the Plastic Pollution Coalition on January 18 for their first webinar of the new year: Plastic-Free Resolutions: Protecting Your Health in 2024. During this event, they will offer tangible, common sense ways to reduce the amount of plastic you use in your daily life. They’ll discuss why it’s important to avoid plastics, provide you with DIY and low- and no-cost solutions, and highlight helpful products you may turn to when you need an extra hand.

Sign Up Here

3 New Year Resolution Ideas:

to Reduce Plastic in Your Daily Life

Avoid plastic on tissue boxes. Choose tissues that don't use plastic to dispense.

Don't use single use plastic bags. Bring your own bags to stores.

TIP: Put bags back in your car after each unload.

No more plastic soap dispenser. Use a bar instead.

Ocean Conservancy's #Seathechange

2023 Cleanup Reports

The International Coastal Cleanup®

Data from volunteers: Ocean Conservancy reveals most common debris

Ocean Conservancy's report entitled #SeatheChange (September 2023) includes results of the 2022 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). The Top Ten list of common debris items for Earth looks a lot like the Top Ten list for Virginia! 

"This report emphasizes the important contributions that citizen scientists across the globe make as they collect data about the litter and marine debris they find," said Clean Virginia Waterways' (CVW) executive director, Zach Huntington. CVW has organized the ICC in Virginia since 1995, and it has engaged more than 128,000 volunteers in collecting data since then. "Combating the sources and impacts of plastic pollution depends on an accurate understanding of the most common and harmful types of debris-- CVW urges people of all ages to contribute to the solution by participating in cleanup events, and recording data on what they find," he continued. 

VPPPN reminds all groups that do cleanup events anywhere in Virginia: COLLECT DATA via the Clean Swell App for smart phones! Data collection DOUBLES the impact of your events. All data are stored in an open-access online data base (TIDES) that is FREE to everyone to use for reports, trends, and educational campaigns. 

Register to host a clean up with Clean Virginia Waterways here!

Ocean Conservancy is a U.S. based non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Clean Virginia Waterways​ (co-founder of the VA Plastic Pollution Prevention Network) has been the OC's state affiliate since 1995. 

Microplastics Research Work at

George Mason University

Every year, humans throw away millions of tons of plastic that end up polluting our waterways. This plastic pollution breaks down over time into tiny pieces called microplastics, which cause a variety of major health problems for organisms living in these waterways through direct ingestion and reduced water quality, for example. At the Salerno Laboratory of Integrative Microbial Ecology (aka the SLIME Lab) at George Mason University’s Potomac Science Center, Dr. Jennifer Salerno, graduate student Jordan Sims, and undergraduate student Victor Cregger (pictured here) are studying the bacteria that call these microplastics home and the far-reaching effects that these bacteria have on the Potomac River ecosystem.

To do this, the researchers installed a small buoy system in the river outside of the lab to suspend mesh bags full of common microplastics, including milk jugs and grocery bags, and they sampled each type of plastic weekly for three months to track changes in the bacterial communities growing on the plastic. The team is now using fluorescence microscopy to identify and quantify cyanobacteria using the plastic as a substrate, which may lead to more frequent and more damaging blooms. Additionally, DNA from the communities growing on the microplastics is being sequenced so that the researchers can tell exactly what types of bacteria are present. This will allow them to look for environmental pathogens that may use microplastics as a vector to spread disease, indicator species that scientists could use to track river health, and any other surprises that have yet to be discovered!

If you need additional info on this project:

Jordan Sims -

Victor Cregger

Follow us:

Facebook: Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

Instagram: @perec_gmu

Twitter: @PEREC_GMU

Friends of Dyke Marsh and the National Park Service Day of Service

Potomac River Clean Up and Invasive Plant Removal

Please join the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the National Park Service on Monday, January 15, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service with volunteer activities.

We will conduct a trash cleanup along the Potomac River shoreline. We will also target and remove invasive plants in Dyke Marsh. You may choose to participate in either activity. Register here to participate.

Check in at a registration table in Belle Haven Park near the south parking lot or at the entrance to the Haul Road Trail. All supplies (gloves, tools and trash bags) and instructions will be provided when checking in. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, long pants and sleeves, gloves and sun protection. Bring water. We kindly request that you not bring pets to this event. Participants will be notified 24 hours in advance if cancellation is needed due to inclement weather.

You may email and with any questions regarding these activities.

Waste to Energy the False Solution Webinar

The Sierra Club Single Use + core group is hosting a free webinar on January 18th at7:00pm EST.

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) is important to understand as a false solution to the plastic problem.As many cities struggle with the costs, logistics and capacity limits of landfilling, WTE can sound enticing—after all what’s not to like about free energy? Plastics interests are only too happy to provide false solutions that make people feel more comfortable with the status quo on their use of single use plastics.

This roundtable presentation and discussion will provide facts against and important information about the false solution of waste to energy.

Register with this link!

The VPPPN monthly eNewsletter wants

YOUR input! 

If you would like to have your upcoming event (or publication) mentioned in the monthly VPPPN eNewsletter, write a paragraph with the following information, and email it to

Are you reading a book about plastics, environmental justice, ocean sustainability and health or another related topic? What about a podcast series relevant to plastic pollution or marine debris? We want to know so we can share that information with other VPPPN members!

FORMAT: Submissions to the VPPPN monthly eNewsletter must be sent as a Word or Pages document or as text in an e-mail. Word limit: 150. You can also send us a photo, logo, or flyer as a JPG.

CONTENT: Include the title, time, date and place of the event or program, and a phone number (with area code) or e-mail address of a contact person. State if the program is free or has a fee; has an age requirement or other restrictions; or has a registration deadline or welcomes drop-ins. Also include the name of the group sponsoring the event, and a website (if available) for more information. 

Support the

Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network

As our network grows, so do our expenses. Please consider a donation to support the VPPPN if you have found it to be valuable to you. We would appreciate your support of $10, $20 or more. Member organizations that donate $100 or more will have the opportunity to add their logo and website link to our website.

Donations by credit card (Master Card and VISA) can be made using the link below. All donations to support the VPPPN are managed through our partner, Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University. THANK YOU! 

Support VPPPN

We look forward to working with you more in 2024!