Learning About Plastic in Environmental Education

By Donni O’Ryan, Environmental Education Instructor

Environmental Ed in the 8th grade classroom has included learning about the manufacture, use, and disposal of plastics and discussing the negative and positive aspects of this material. We have discussed options and how to make the best choices as future consumers. Later we will tour the Recycling Center to see how our single-use plastics are processed. 

During our recent lessons we pondered why developing countries have been the primary destination for all of our plastic recyclables until 2018 and what is happening in the world of recycling now that China and Vietnam no longer take our used plastic.  Recycling is a system that has made us lazy about using single-use items, but is recycling really a good idea? Most did not realize that plastic can not be recycled more than once before being tossed into a landfill.

We also investigated the use of plastics in our clothing and the rise and tremendous popularity of “fast fashion” that is primarily made in developing countries. Shein is the second largest manufacturer of clothing and is based in China. Fast fashion clothing that does not sell immediately is dumped into a desert in Chile where the mountains of clothing blanket miles of the environment.  Because of all the plastic content in the clothing, it will not decompose. 

On behalf of our study, and because winter gift giving is here, these are several websites that the students discovered that offer plastic free and environmentally friendly items:

The Earthling Co. — Shampoo Bars rather than fluid shampoo in a plastic bottle
Well Earth Goods – Plastic free laundry detergent and stain remover
Zero Waste Store
Treading My Own Path
By Humankind
Seconds Guru
Eco Roots
Package Free
For more information about the world of recycling:
Green Matters
Recycling Today
NRDC – On Earth
Several more field trips are planned-dates to be determined due to Covid
Marin Recycle Center
MMWD drinking water facility
Waste water facility

Categories MWS

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