First MCLA Green Living Talk of 2020 to be Plastics in the Environment: Separating Myth from Reality

NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces the first event in its spring Green Living Seminar series will take place on Thursday, Jan. 30. The talk, “Plastics in the Environment: Separating Myth from Reality,” will be given by Chris Reddy, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

This and all subsequent Green Living Seminars will take place on Thursdays, at 5:30 p.m., in room 121 of the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation on the MCLA campus. The theme of this semester’s series is “Environmental Pollution,” and all talks are free and open to the public.

Reddy’s presentation will provide an overview of the history of plastics in the environment and he’ll share what is known, unknown, incorrect, changing, and still under debate. Reddy will discuss the estimated lifetimes of plastics, and will focus on a recent study on the breakdown of plastics by sunlight, placing it within the “big picture” of plastic science. He said attendees will leave with a new perspective on the issues of plastic pollution. 

Reddy is a leader in the fields of marine pollution, chemical ecology, and the development of more environmentally friendly industrial chemicals. A senior scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and previous director of WHOI’s Coastal Ocean Institute, Reddy has studied marine pollution for more than 20 years. 

His work spans pesticides and PCBs in coastal sediments, fallout of soot into the ocean, and major oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon. More recently, Reddy has turned his attention to marine plastics as a member of the WHOI Marine Microplastics Initiative, and has co-authored several papers on the subject. 

Reddy has published more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, has testified before Congress five times, and holds eight US patents. In 2014, he was honored with the C.C. Patterson Award for his work on the impacts of petroleum in the ocean and, in 2018, the American Geophysical Union recognized his achievements as a science communicator with an “Ambassador Award.”

This semester’s Green Living Seminar events will take place through April 16, 2020. Following Reddy’s talk on Thursday, Jan. 30, the next Green Living lecture will be on Thursday, Feb. 6, when Paul Godfrey, emeritus director of the UMass Amherst Water Resources Research Center, will present “Acid Rain: How Science and Volunteerism Contributed to Addressing an Environmental Challenge.”     

Each semester, the MCLA Green Living Seminar Series hosts lectures by local, regional, and national experts organized around a central theme related to the environment and sustainability. The 2020 series is a presentation of the MCLA Environmental Studies Department and the MCLA Berkshire Environmental Resource Center.

Podcasts will be posted online following each presentation at For more information, visit or contact Elena Traister at (413) 662-5303.