Approaches to reducing ocean plastic pollution

Lesson overview

Experts agree on the need for urgent action to tackle the issue of marine plastic pollution but disagree on the what methods should be prioritised. Students will look at two main schools of thought: ‘turn off the taps’, stopping plastic from entering the ocean by reducing plastic pollution, limiting single-use plastic use, improving waste management, and introducing alternative products; and ‘bail out the bath’, removing plastic waste from the ocean and beaches. Students engage in a silent debate followed by a group discussion to focus on what they believe is the most effective solution.

Learning outcomes
  • Understand the human use of natural resources has caused an environmental situation which needs a ­­ and negative features of each possible solution
  • Apply skills of data gathering from a number of sources
  • Communicate geographical information through extended writing
Lesson steps
  1. Rethinking the plastic pollution problem (15 mins)
    Students learn how to categorise proposed solutions to the issue of marine plastics pollution using two frameworks: the 6Rs, and ‘turn off the tap’ vs ‘bail out the bath’.
  2. Plastic solutions silent debate (25 mins)
    Using a silent debate format, students analyse different proposals to reduce marine plastic pollution, through analysing proposals in more depth and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.
  3. From silent to spoken debate (10 mins)
    Students move from the silent debate format to a whole class discussion.
  4. Plastic solution proposal (10 mins)
    Students create a table of advantages and disadvantages for each proposed solution. They will need to research and write a short paragraph on their favoured solution. This can be completed for home learning.