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Resource Language:


Regional Focus


Plastic Pollution: How Humans Are Turning the World into Plastic

Author: Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell
Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, Health
Format: YouTube Video
Resource Type:
  • Video, 9 minutes, 1 second, CC, Subtitles
  • This video is a comprehensive outline of plastic and plastic pollution. It includes the history of plastic, a description of different plastics and their uses, marine pollution, microplastics, biomagnification, and plastics found in human bodies. 
  • The video concludes with observations on the complicated role of plastic and specific action items to reduce plastic pollution. 
Teaching Tips


  • The video offers a nuanced view, instead of just claiming to "ban all plastics." (For example, plastic is used in life-saving medical equipment and to keep food fresh in places that lack robust refrigeration networks.)
  • Beautiful animations bring this video to life.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You have have to watch an ad before and/or during the video.


  • Social studies or civics students could research specific legislation banning plastic. Many municipal governments in the United States have plastic bag bans or similar legislation to reduce plastic pollution.
  • Students could create a campaign in their school or community to ban single-use plastics. Campaigns could include specific items like water bottles, plastic bags, or balloons. More robust campaigns would change systems, such as the removal of vending machines; changing plastic-intensive holiday traditions such as birthdays, Halloween, or Valentine's Day; or changing systems in the cafeteria.
  • Students could watch this similar video to further their understanding.
  • Art students could watch this video before analyzing murals called "Sea of Plastic" or "Plastic Culture."
Scientist Notes
This resource video accurately characterizes the complexity of the plastic pollution problem. It is a multifaceted dilemma that does not have one single solution. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-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-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.4.6-8 Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.6-8 Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.
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