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Luka Seamus Wright, Imogen Ellen Napper


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


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Videos, 4 minutes, 52 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Interactive Media
  • Articles and Websites
  • Assessments

Regional Focus


Which Bag Should You Use?

Ask a Question

  • This TED-Ed video compares paper, plastic, and cloth bags to determine which one is the best for the environment. 
  • Students will learn that the environmental impact of an object, like a bag, is determined by how an object is produced, if it can be reused (and for how long), if it can be recycled, and if it is biodegradable. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video will inspire students to consider all of the environmental factors that go into choosing the right shopping bag.
  • The colorful animations will keep students engaged.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The link labeled "landfills" in the Dig Deeper section is broken.
  • Teachers must create a free account to use the interactive Think and Discuss sections.


  • Before watching the video, teachers could ask students which type of bag they think is best for the environment and why. After the video, students could discuss the following questions:
    • Did the video make you think differently about the environmental impact of shopping bags? Why?
    • Will you change your habits as a consumer?
    • Do you think the information in the video would influence people's buying habits? Why or why not?
    • How can mindful consumers help fight climate change?
  • Civics classes could discuss laws that ban stores from providing single-use plastic bags to customers.
  • Other resources on this topic include this activity for building a reusable bag stand, this video on plastic pollution, and this video on the environmental impact of manufacturing a pair of jeans.
Scientist Notes
When trying to determine what kind of bag is best for the environment, the answer may seem obvious, but the facts might surprise you. This TED-Ed video breaks down the environmental costs of plastic, paper, and cotton tote shopping bags. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
      • MS-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • Related Resources


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