Your Guide To Earth Day 2018: Ending Plastic Pollution

Earth Day is just around the corner and we want to make sure you’re ready to celebrate, both on your own and with your students. So read on to learn more about the 2018 Earth Day theme – Ending Plastic Pollution, consider how you can be involved on a personal level, and find lesson plans to bring Earth Day challenges alive with your students.

Population and Plastics

Today, the world is booming in every sense – from human population, to technological advances, to global economies. The side of this success that we sometimes forget to consider is the negative impacts of industrialization on the planet. Evidence of these negative impacts is clear, unlike the world’s air and water. In China, smog plagues citizens almost daily while out in the Pacific Ocean a giant garbage patch adorns waters and grows bigger and bigger year after year.

Plastic persists in oceans for years, leaching toxins into the water, damaging coral reefs, harming marine life that ingest the plastic and causing other disruptions in ocean systems. Plastics often break down into smaller and smaller pieces, creating a “plastic smog” in Earth’s oceans composed of more than 5 trillion tiny plastic particles that together weigh 270,000 tons.

Can Plastics Be Stopped?

In his blog post “3 Ideas for Cleaning Up the Plastic Mess in Earth’s Oceans,” Ben Allen focuses specifically on the challenge of plastics polluting marine ecosystems. He covers both traditional and non-traditional solutions that are being put into play around the world as people wrestle with keeping Earth’s oceans plastic-free.

Plastic trash overflows

Stopping plastics at their source, before they ever have the chance to enter a waterway or breakdown in a ditch, should also be considered. Kate Anderson reviewed laws around the use and distribution of plastic bags in her post “To Ban or Not to Ban: The Politics of Plastic Bag Laws.” Plastic bags have been ubiquitous in every store, from small mom and pop shops to big box stores, for years but that’s starting to change. Some states are banning plastic bags, others are charging fees for their use, and some states are asserting bans are not allowed and non-legal means must be used to decrease plastic bag use.

Lesson Plans on Plastic Use

Encouraging students to pick up litter and recycle is great, but have you ever wondered how to engage them on topics of waste and conservation on a deeper level? If the answer is a screaming yes, “Earth Day Lesson Plans: 3 Unexpected Ways to Teach About Plastics” is just what you need. The lessons outlined are not only unique, but they also require students to use critical thinking skills, work collaboratively to solve real-world problems, make indirect connections with their own decisions, and follow complex procedural steps to draw and evaluate conclusions.

Want Even More for Earth Day?

Free lesson packets on more general Earth Day themes are available for elementary teachers, middle grades teachers, and high school teachers. Use them this week! Earth Day celebrations are happening around the world, and we’d hate for you to miss out on the fun.


Image credits: Plastic bags by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash