Toward a Plastic Responsible Future Unit Driving Question: What can we do to reduce the effects of plastic pollution?

Making Change Happen Lesson Driving Question: How can we implement our solutions?

1. Introduce students to the final project phase.
  • Explain to students that they are going to consider the ways in which their proposed solutions will need to be implemented.  
  • Project the Plastic Policy Project Description and bring their attention to step three, supporting their proposed policy change. In this activity, students will be learning about examples of implementation that they can draw on for this part of their proposal.
  • These examples may not involve direct policy change, but can be used to inform students’ proposals.

2. Facilitate students’ rotation through case study learning stations.

  • Explain that other people are working to reduce and eliminate plastic waste in their communities.
  • Explain that they are going to learn about what some people have done for inspiration to tackle the unit driving question: What can we do to reduce the effects of plastic pollution?
  • Set up four learning stations with the following resources available for students to rotate through:
  • In their policy groups, have students visit each of the four stations. As they visit each station, have students record their ideas using two-column notes guided by the following questions:
      • What is the solution implemented in this example?
      • What is similar about this project to our project?
      • What might we use from this project in our policy proposal to the school?
  • Give students the opportunity to revise their solutions based on these examples, if applicable.

3. Discuss and reflect.

  • Have students share with the class their ideas in response to the guiding questions in Step 2.
  • Students write a short reflection in response to the following question: How did the station learning inform, change, or confirm your planned proposal?


Informal Assessment

Students demonstrate their understanding of the plastic-waste reduction methods from the case studies and their relationship to the final project in their reflective writing.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply aspects from model case studies of implementation to their own proposal for a plastic reduction in the school community.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Multimedia instruction
  • Reflection
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • WHST.6-8.4:  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D2.Civ.7.6-8:  Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school and community settings.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Handout: Plastic Policy Project Description

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per pair

Physical Space

  • Classroom


Set up the room in learning stations so that groups can visit the four content pieces. You can set up multiple stations of the same type so that smaller groups can access each piece of content.


  • Small-group learning
  • Small-group work

Background Information

Plastic pollution is a global, regional, and local issue. Here, we describe a few collaborative efforts to reduce plastic waste around the globe. One of the largest collaborative efforts is headed by the United Nations, urging countries to reduce plastic production and implement strong plastic disposal policies (Basel Convention, 2019). The European Union has followed suit and will ban 10 common single-use plastic items by 2021 and plans to collect and recycle 90 percent of bottles by 2029. On a slightly smaller scale, individual counties, such as Peru and Canada, have committed to banning common plastic items like bags and straws.

Organizations, researchers, and communities are banding together to reduce plastic pollution. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are fighting plastic pollution—including 5 Gyres, Greenpeace, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund—are fighting plastic pollution. These NGOs are taking a stand, spreading the word, and committing to a plastic pledge globally. Researchers from the University of Toronto have a “trash team” dedicated to researching plastic pollution, where it comes from, and the effects it has. Schools are signing petitions to reduce plastic consumption and educating students, administrators, and teachers on what it means to be a trash-free school. Mostly, large reductions in plastic pollution and production are implemented at the government level rather than at the community level. However, by coming together and reducing plastic use at an individual, family, and community level, we can collectively make a difference and reduce waste.



chemical material that can be easily shaped when heated to a high temperature.


to clean or process in order to make suitable for reuse.


to lower or lessen.


to give up, renounce, be unwilling to accept.


to use again.

waste stream

the sum of wastes by a single entity.