Why do We Have Plastic Waste in the Environment?

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Learning Outcomes

By the end of this activity, learners will:
  • Describe how plastic waste ends up in the environment
  • Identify the biggest sources of plastic waste in their environment
  • Identify the main types of plastic waste in their environment

Curriculum Connections

4. A - Waste and our World - 4–5 Recognize that human activity can lead to the production of wastes, and identify alternatives for the responsible use and disposal of materials.
7. A - Interactions and Ecosystems - 1. Investigate and describe relationships between humans and their environments, and identify related issues and scientific questions; 2. Trace and interpret the flow of energy and materials within an ecosystem; 3. Monitor a local environment, and assess the impacts of environmental factors on the growth, health and reproduction of organisms in that environment; 4. Describe the relationships among knowledge, decisions and actions in maintaining life-supporting environments
8. E - Freshwater and Saltwater Systems - 1. Describe the distribution and characteristics of water in local and global environments, and identify the significance of water supply and quality to the needs of humans and other living things; 4. Analyze human impacts on aquatic systems; and identify the roles of science and technology in addressing related questions, problems and issues
Social Studies
3.2.2 explore the concept of global citizenship by reflecting upon the following question for inquiry:
What are some environmental concerns that Canada and communities around the world share?
4.1.1 value Alberta’s physical geography and natural environment
4.1.4 analyze how Albertans interact with their environment by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How are natural resources used by Albertans (i.e., agriculture, oil and natural gas, forests, coal)? 
How do Albertans deal with competing demands on land use (e.g., conservation, solar and wind power, recreation, agriculture, oil exploration, forestry)? 
5.1.1 value Canada’s physical geography and natural environment:
demonstrate care and concern for the environment through their choices and actions
6.1.6 analyze how individuals, groups and associations within a community impact decision making of local and provincial governments by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How can individuals, groups and associations within a community participate in the decision-making process regarding current events or issues (i.e., lobbying, petitioning, organizing and attending local meetings and rallies, contacting elected representatives)? 
6.B1.2 analyse a local issue related to biodiversity while considering different perspectives; plan a course of action in response to the issue; and act on their plan
Social Studies
4.B1.1 analyse some of the general ways in which the natural environment of regions in Canada has affected the development of industry
4.B1.3 describe some key actions taken by both industries and citizens to address the need for more sustainable use of land and resources
7.B3.2 describe ways in which people use the natural environment, including specific elements within it, to meet their needs and wants (e.g., rock is quarried to make building materials, roads; trees are used for lumber for buildings, wood for furniture, pulp for paper, logs for fuel; fossil fuels are used for heating and cooling, to generate energy for industry, to power vehicles, to make plastics; water is used for drinking, irrigation, to produce electricity, to cool nuclear reactors; animals are used for food, clothing, recreation; the natural environment enables people to live off the land and provides opportunities for relaxation, education, and/or recreation)

Length of Activity

2 - 2.5 hours

Materials List

  • Internet-enabled device
  • Spiral Inquiry Model 
  • KWL Chart 
  • Paper and pencil

Online Lesson Format