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Be Smart


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, History

Resource Type

  • Videos, 15 minutes, 54 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

We're Drowning in Plastic Pollution. Can We Actually Fix It?

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  • This video thoroughly details the plastic pollution problem including the history of plastic, causes and effects of this pollution, challenges to solving the issue, and potential solutions. 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and transportation of plastic, as well as the transportation and clean up of plastic waste, are highlighted as other ways that plastic pollutes. 
  • The video emphasizes the complex systemic changes that will be necessary to solve a problem of this scope and scale, far beyond individuals' actions. 

Teaching Tips


  • The video is very in-depth and covers all aspects of plastic pollution.
  • The video is realistic about how difficult this problem will be to solve, while remaining optimistic and providing actionable solutions.

Additional Prerequisites

  • An advertisement may play at the start and part way through the video, which can be skipped after a few seconds.
  • The video is divided into nine sections that can be played individually instead of playing the entire video at one time.


Scientist Notes
This resource is a 15-minute video that gives a comprehensive overview of the history of plastics, including when they were invented and used, how many plastic products are produced today, their ultimate fate, and ways in which we can reduce and clean up plastic pollution. This resource has a nice balance between looking at the plastic problem with an unflinching eye and offering actionable solutions. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • 6.SL.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 8.ESS3.4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • HS.ESS3.4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
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