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You’ll Love These Extension Ideas for “Drowning in Plastic”

By Lauren Salisbury
March 20, 2019


Your changemakers are going to love digging into the paired text feature in the April issue of Scope, Drowning in Plastic. Two nonfiction texts explore the problem of plastic pollution and how people around the world (including kids) are working to solve it. After reading the two articles, explore the resources below to keep the learning going and inspire your students!

Essential Questions
Post these questions in your classroom for students to refer to as they explore the resources:

  • What is throwaway culture?
  • What is the cost of convenience?
  • How can environmental problems be solved?

4 resources to keep the learning going:

Watch a Video About the Problem of Bottled Water
Americans buy more than half a billion plastic bottles of water every week. This short (and delightful) video explores why that's a problem, the role that companies play in producing this waste, and some practical ways that every person can help make a difference.

The Story of Bottled Water

Calculate Your Plastic Footprint
Have students check out this website to calculate their yearly plastic footprints, read about how long it takes for plastic waste to decompose (hint: a loooooong time), and explore ways to minimize and manage their waste with the 4 R's: refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle.


Read Two Scope Stories From the Archive About Plastic Bags

Read Scope’s interview with a middle-schooler who got plastic bags banned from stores in her hometown. And read a Scope debate: “Plastic Bags: Convenient and Cruel.”

Learn More About a Zero-Waste Company

Read this article to learn more about Loop, the new business mentioned in the Scope article “The Problem of Plastic” that works with big companies to offer reusable packaging. For example, it allows customers to buy a pint of ice cream in a reusable jar (instead of a disposable container) and then send that jar back to Loop when it's empty. The jar is then cleaned, refilled with ice cream, and shipped to the next person to enjoy.


Two engaging activities about the problem of plastic:

  • Why is plastic pollution a problem? What are some ways it can be solved? Answer both questions in a well-organized essay, slideshow, or short video. Support your answer with information from both articles and any of the resources above.
  • Come up with an idea for an awareness campaign to inspire your school or community to reduce its plastic waste. Present your idea in a medium of your choosing, and explain why your idea is important and why it will be effective.
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