To think globally and act locally

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Basic Information

Over the years, the increasing use of plastic in our everyday life has caused serious environmental damage, forcing us to rethink our habits and consciously reduce or recycle its use. The activities and discussions suggested here can make children aware of the dangers of using plastic and the pollution it causes to the environment.

03 hours 00 mins

Managing or reducing use of plastic is a major concern to governments all over the world. Since children are exposed to the use of plastic in everyday life, the teacher can talk about how different nations have tackled this problem, and what each child can do , starting from their own homes.

  1. Students will learn about the dangers of using plastic

  2. Students will be more environment- conscious

  3. Students will learn to campaign about reuse and recycle plastic in their neighbourhood.

Activity Steps: 

Earlier people carried their own bags made of cloth or jute to markets. Today we march back with plastic carry-bags from shops. More plastic = more non-biodegradable material. Even as environmental concerns are being voiced, the awareness of how to curtail the manufacture of plastic and limit its role in everyday life is inadequate. To deal with plastic, the three Rs to remember are:




Reducing the quantity of plastic in our lives would mean buying products with less or no plastic packing at all. The danger to be aware of is that it is becoming ‘natural’ to buy commodities that are elaborately packed, somehow linking quality with packaging. This fallacy could be combated only through awareness of how eco-unfriendly plastic is.

Recycling is about processing waste-material into usable raw material for other purposes. This would involve several chemical treatments and processing in specialized plants set up by garbage recycling institutions and municipal authorities. So, the students could begin to “act” in their own homes by separating organic waste and plastic waste into two garbage cans. This would help the municipal authorities immensely.

Reusing plastic would entail reducing the amount of plastic one uses by using already accumulated plastic to the maximum. Finding new uses for abandoned or now defunct plastic is ‘reuse’. This could involve small-scale need-based processing with very little effort. One instance would be supermarkets advocating the reuse of their durable plastic bags. This means, instead of taking home a bag after every shopping spree, one bag would serve several trips. Other active reuses of plastic would be to convert large plastic cans into a garbage bins, smaller containers into cactus holders, or flour-scoopers, or a dust pan. This could be made in a monthly activity. Groups of students could come up with innovative ideas to convert certain forms of plastic into some other useful items.

Talking about civilizations in the pre-plastic days would be interesting. You could talk about how cooking was done in earthen pots, plantain leaves were used for plates, and how gunny bags and jute bags became shopping bags and bags to store food. This discussion will enable students to realize how indispensable we have allowed plastic to become. Knowledge of pre-plastic material will allow for an exploration of viable, non-plastic alternatives. Examples of nations like Malta where drums of various sizes are used as boundary walls, and Africa where toys are made from used cans and bottles would be of interest to students. In societies where reuse and recycling is an economic necessity, every item is seen to have potential for alternative uses.

To heighten students’ awareness, provoke the detective in the child to follow-up on what happens to the garbage that is collected from our homes. At a local level, rag pickers and civic bodies sort out the rubbish, but at the international level, ship loads of non-biodegradable and radioactive waste is dumped by western countries into developing countries and their oceans. Students could collect relevant newspaper clippings and make a presentation in class.

Why avoid plastic? Some facts

  • Most plastics are non-biodegradable. They cannot be broken down into simpler, harmless products by the action of living organisms.

  • Most plastics are derived from oil, which is a non-renewable resource.

  • Many plastics are highly inflammable. Hence caution must be exerted in having plastic drapes or covers in areas prone to fire mishaps (say, the kitchen).

  • Cattle, horses, and goats have been known to die of asphyxiation and blockage of the gastro-intestinal system after the consumption of plastic. This is attributed to the obstructive quality of plastic.

  • The evidence of the impenetrability of plastic is seen through clogged gutters. Blockages in sewage drains occur because of plastic covers or cans, which lead to stagnation.

  • When young children have played with used plastic bags by putting them over their heads, the result has been suffocation. In fact, incorporation of holes into bags most likely to come into the hands of children, have been legislated in several countries

Once you have introduced the children to these facts, ask them to use the information to design posters and signs that can help create awareness in the school and in their neighbourhood.

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