Catch the Plastic

This is an image of a Cora Ball. It catches some of the mircroplastic fibers during the wash cycle.

Through our Catch the Plastic project HRWC is raising awareness of regional microplastics pollution and encouraging actions for addressing it locally. We are focusing on reducing pollution from synthetic microfibers because they are the largest source of microplastics pollution in the Huron River. By encouraging residents to use laundry devices that capture microfibers such as filters, Cora Balls, or Guppyfriend Bags, we are aiming to reduce microplastic fibers being delivered to waste water treatment plants and septic tanks via waste water from washing machines.

What we’ve done so far:

  • In 2018-2019, we gave 400 Cora Balls to local residents in the watershed. We also sold Cora Balls at the Ann Arbor Summer Fest and participated in a round table discussion (summer 2018).
  • Digital media campaign: We have produced three educational one-minute videos and posted them on Facebook, Instagram, and You Tube. HRWC staff has also shared the word at events, written several blogs and articles about the issue.
  • HRWC gave away 50 Guppyfriend Bags as gifts for new members in 2019-2020
  • Testing the Waters: HRWC science teams have collected water samples from the river and creeks to determine hot spots. You can read about this work in our Fall 2020 newsletter here.
  • From 2019-2020, HRWC ran a pilot program in 2 neighborhoods in Ann Arbor to find out if residents knew about the issue and were interested in taking action. Those that were interested in taking action got free Cora Balls and had filters installed at no cost. We gathered feedback, which is very helpful in determining next steps for our outreach. Reports from this research:
Program Research and Outreach Summary
Program Evaluation and Implementation Plan

Microplastics in the Great Lakes and the Huron River

Microplastics are the miniscule plastic fragments (smaller than 0.04 inch) that slough off of articles of clothing when they are being washed, fall off of decomposing plastic bottles and bags, and are intentionally manufactured into some toothpastes and lotions. Scientists have found microplastics nearly everywhere, including lakes, rivers, and aquatic animals. Fibers, which contribute the most to our local microplastics pollution, are washed into our streams and rivers after synthetic clothes and textiles, such as fleece and athletic gear, are laundered. The fibers are so tiny they are not filtered out during the water treatment process. To learn more about this issue, check out our videos below and our Microplastic Pollution page here.

Juggling Cora Balls at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival

HRWC’s Ric Lawson juggles Cora Balls at the A2 Summer Festival to help get the word out about this issue.

Special thanks for funding these programs go to: