Plastic is ubiquitous in our everyday lives. Some plastics we can reuse or recycle—and many play important roles in areas like medicine and public safety—but other items, such as straws, are designed for only one use. In fact, more than 40 percent of plastic is used only once before it is thrown away, where it lingers in the environment for a long, long time. It often breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, called microplastics, which can be ingested by both animals and people. Fortunately, there are things we can do to help—like stop using plastic bags, straws, and bottles, recycling when we can, and disposing of waste properly.
Use these classroom resources to teach about ocean plastics and check back for more coming later this year!
Check out this unit on ocean ecosystems and activities on the impacts of plastics in that environment.
Use this interactive mapping tool to help your students understand how rivers are connected to the ocean and how they can carry plastics from places inland to the sea.
Use these nonfiction articles to teach students about aspects of ocean pollution.
Learn more about key ocean plastic topics with these articles.
Use this short video clip to help students understand how plastics are impacting our planet and generate ideas for how we can each make a difference.
Use this map to better understand the geography of ocean plastic.
Read this article from National Geographic magazine. Then take the pledge to choose the planet over single-use plastics.
Check out these other National Geographic programs!