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Learning for a Sustainable Future


4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Presentation Slides
  • Videos, 26 minutes, 31 seconds, CC
  • Worksheets
  • Videos

Regional Focus



Google Slides, PDF, YouTube Video

A Million Bottles a Minute

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  • This comprehensive lesson plan introduces students to the global impact of plastic use and environmental solutions they can participate in.
  • Students will learn about how plastics affect the environment, the problem of hidden plastics, how plastic use and production can improve to resemble a circular economy, and how students can help alleviate the ever-increasing issue of single-use plastic.
  • The workshop slides and resources include various learning activities with opportunities for note-taking, class discussions, small-group tasks, creative thinking, hands-on games, and academic writing.
Teaching Tips


  • The teacher resource PDF includes links to additional videos, fact sheets, worksheets, and games.
  • The video presentation of the workshop is a convenient resource for virtual learning days.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers will need internet access and access to a color printer.
  • Since the workshop is titled "A Million Bottles A Minute," teachers may wish to provide a visual representation of a million.
  • If you are having students extend their learning with the My Little Plastic Footprint app, note that it may only work on tablets and smartphones, not computers or Chromebooks.


  • Teachers can extend this workshop in cross-curricular contexts and across multiple days.
  • Teachers wishing to use this workshop as a cross-curricular unit can begin with English teachers having students read the introduction, science teachers presenting Slides 1-22, social studies teachers showing Slides 23-40, and ending with English students and completing the culminating Commitment To Action worksheet.
  • Students can research more examples of a circular economy and research life-cycle analyses of products that interest them.
  • After this workshop, teachers can discuss how circular economies can reduce the effects of climate change.
Scientist Notes
This resource contains materials to teach students the basics about plastic pollution and the impacts of plastic pollution. The materials also help students think about what they and society can do to reduce pollution. While the resource doesn't specifically mention climate change, many of the concepts in this lesson relate to climate change, such as overuse, reduction of waste, and circular economies. The information presented is accurate, and this resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • 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.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
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