A Study on Plastic for Earth Month

All month long we celebrate the Earth, culminating in Earth Day on April 22. This year's theme for Earth Month is Plastic... More Than Pollution. Plastic is used in nearly all manufacturing of products. It's the packaging that surrounds our many goods. It's used in furniture, utensils, cups and bags. And although it can easily be recycled, many of it finds its way into our trash or worse—as pollution in our environment.

This pollution not only makes the environment look dreadful, it also affects wildlife in a negative way. Much of the world's plastic pollution ends up in the ocean. Floating islands of garbage and debris invade ocean water habitat. Animals become trapped or ingest this toxic invader, usually resulting in their deaths. It's time to give this epidemic the attention it deserves. This month, let's educate ourselves on the deadly effects of plastic pollution.

Below we offer three activities to introduce your classroom into your study of plastic pollution. Use these questions as a starting off point into a more in-depth and hands-on look at this environmental invader.

1. Imagine that you have a yogurt for lunch. The yogurt comes in a plastic cup with a plastic lid. How could you use the yogurt container again instead of throwing it away?

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2. Learn more about plastics recycling. Research the meaning of the plastics recycling number system. You may use the Internet or library resources. Be sure to find out:

  • the difference between each type of plastic,
  • the way in which each type of plastic is recycled,
  • examples of each type of plastic,
  • the products that each type of plastic are made into when they are recycled.

Create a poster to display the information you learned. Cut out photographs of different plastic products from each group. Write labels for each group to describe the type of plastic, how it is recycled, and what it is made into.

3. Number the events from 1 to 7 to show the order of events that leads to a turtle dying from eating a plastic bag.

___ a) A rain storm washes a plastic bag into a stream.
___ b) People bring food to a picnic in a plastic bag.
___ c) Deep in the ocean, a sea turtle mistakes the plastic bag for food.
___ d) The plastic bag lands at the bottom of a tree.
___ e) A stream carries the plastic bag to the ocean.
___ f) The plastic bag blows away in the wind.
___ g) A sea turtle eats the plastic bag.

Answers:
1. Answers will vary, but may include: Wash out the yogurt container and use it to store small objects, like change or small seashells.
2. Answers will vary based on resources used.
3. a) 4; b) 1; c) 6; d) 3; e) 5; f) 2; g) 7

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