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					                                     LOATHSOME LITTER
                                                                                          M - 07
  Sources:          Bobbie Callison & Marjorie McLaren
  Revised:          10/98

  OBJECTIVES:
    to illustrate —
      – the amount of litter and plastics that accumulate in the oceans and on beaches.
      – the effect of litter on marine life.
      – the time it takes for different types of litter to decompose.
      – what, we as individuals, can do to lessen the amount and type of litter.
      – emphasize the positive aspects of reducing the use of plastics.

  SCIENCE THEMES:
     Systems and interactions, patterns of change

  PROCESS SKILLS:
    Observing, relating, comparing, applying

  GRADE LEVELS:
    2—6

  FOCUSWORDS:
    Biodegradable, degradable, organic, inorganic, photodegradable, carbon monoxide, recycle,
    soluble, durable, decompose, petroleum by-product, non–renewable resource

  MATERIALS NEEDED:
    2    – laminated posters (Look-alikes and How Can I Help?)
    1    – plastic bowl with baggie – a jellyfish look alike
         – rubber bands (one for each child in group) – for bird beak activity
         – container with beans – for bird beak activity
         – plastic 6-pack rings one for each pair of children)
    2      – containers; one with plastic (non-biodegradable, inorganic), one with
          decaying tomato (biodegradable, organic, you provide your own)
    1    – stuffed bird with fishing line attached to feet or beak
         – plastic bag with enduring litter, cans, jar, rope, paper, cloth, wood
        – samples of recyclable litter, Styrofoam cup, PETE bottle, tubs
    1    – picture of furniture HDPE can be recycled into
         – reusable samples, Rubbermaid box, thermos, other plastic containers
         – handouts- "Growth of plastics in the US" and "How Long Will It Last?"

  BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
   Biodegradable Versus. Non-biodegradable
         Be sure to stress the meaning of the words biodegradable and non-biodegradable, organic
         and inorganic Use contents of the 2 plastic containers as visuals. Scientists are using
         carbon monoxide (CO) molecules to build in chemical weak points in the chains
         (polymers) that make up plastics. Carbon monoxide is not resistant to ultra violet light

LOATHSOME LITTER                          M-07                                            page 1
          and will break the chain where these molecules are placed. Unfortunately, bacteria and
          other microorganisms do not eat plastic so these tiny pieces pose a problem.
   Use of Plastics
          Also use information from handout on "Growth of plastics in the US."

          Both land and sea sources contribute to the debris problem. It is estimated that 1/3 of all
          the trash in the world's ocean comes from the United States. The merchant marine
          shipping industry, commercial fishermen, passenger and recreational vessels all dump
          trash in the ocean before landing in port.

          At present, it is estimated that 20% of all food packaging in the US is plastic and will
          increase to 40% by the year 2000. Littering by the general population is a big problem. For
          instance, beach users in Los Angeles County leave behind approximately 75 tons of trash
          each week, containing many plastic components. As of July 31, 1990 regulations
          (MARPOL) went into effect to prohibit dumping at sea within certain limits (see poster).

          Today 18 states, including California, have enacted legislation that requires degradable
          six-pack rings. To determine whether a ring is degradable (breaks down into small plastic
          components), look for an embossed diamond adjacent to the finger hole. The chemical
          structure of the plastic ring has been altered so that ultraviolet (sunlight) light will
          eventually break up the product into small pieces (photodegradable).

  SUGGESTED INTRODUCTION: (Grabber questions)
        How long has plastic been used extensively (50 years, developed as a substitute for World
        War II shortages)?
              Annual U.S. Production –
                 By 1960, 6.3 billion lbs.
                 By 1970, more than 20 billion lbs.
                 By the late 1980's, 59.4 billion lbs.

          How much of different plastics did we use in 1987?
          Guess the amount of each -
                 1 billion lbs. of bags
                 201 million lbs. disposable diapers
                 450 million lbs. shrink wrap and packaging

          One-third of all the world's trash is produced by the United States.

          Twenty percent of all food packaging is plastic, at this rate, by the year 2000, 40% will be
          plastic.

          Eighty percent of Northern Pacific trash is plastic.

          During a beach clean up in North Carolina, 8,000 plastic bags were filled covering over
          150 miles.

          Why is plastic used so much?
                 lightweight           strong             durable



LOATHSOME LITTER                          M-07                                                page 2
             To demonstrate, take a plastic bag, ask a child to try and tear it, stretch it , then
             drop it on the ground.
             Take the glass jar (with the plastic bag in it) and pretend to drop it, ask what
             would happen. Then, drop the plastic bottle.
             We pay a price for durability – plastic is NOT BIODEGRADABLE (explain this
             word).
             Plastic is made from petroleum by-products, this is a NON RENEWABLE
             RESOURCE (explain what that means).




LOATHSOME LITTER                      M-07                                                 page 3
   ACTIVITY:
        1. What is plastic's affect on animals?
        A lot of plastic floats and ends up looking like animal food. In one survey taken, 86% of
        the trash observed floating in the North Pacific was plastic. During a 150 mile survey of
        North Carolina beaches, more than 8,000 plastic bags were found in 3 hours.

          Show plastic bowl with water-filled baggie inside. Either have children stoop down so
          that they are on eye-level with the water line in the bowl or have bowl with baggie inside
          in an observable spot as each group arrives for your session. Usually one child will ask if
          it is a jelly fish. Or, you can prompt a response by asking, "if you were an animal what
          would the baggie look like to you (jelly fish)?"
          If no one answers, use the poster board on "look-alikes" to give them clues. Plastic
          sparkles much the way that fish scales sparkle in sunlight (show plastic rings or fishing
          line - drop in water) and attracts predatory animals.

          Animals have trouble breaking the plastic once it becomes entangled around their beaks,
          necks, wings, or feet. Illustrate with the same poster how plastic traps animals.

          Give each pair of children a six-pack plastic ring. See if they can find diamond pattern in
          the center ring - this indicates that this plastic is degradable.

          Fold rings lengthwise. Play tug-o-war. Can two students pull hard enough to break the
          plastic? What does this tell us about the strength of plastic?

          Show the stuffed bird with fishing line caught around its feet. What will eventually
          happen to the bird's feet? Some birds manage to fly but end up with line getting tangled
          on a tree limb or power line.

          Tell children that Wildlife Rescue will take care of injured animals.

          Give each child three beans and a rubber band. Have the children pretend their thumb
          and first two fingers are a bird's beak. Pick up the beans by opening and closing thumb
          against first two fingers. See picture.

          Next: Have the children place a rubber band ,taut, around their thumb and first two
          fingers, representing the bird's beak. This activity may temporarily hurt their fingers.
          They should assume the rubber band is a piece of fishing line or plastic ring. Now they
          will try to pick up the beans without using their other hand, teeth, face or feet. They can
          also try to remove the rubber band, but can not use other hand etc. Ask them:
                  - What does your hand feel like?
                  - What will the animal's beak feel like?
                  - What will happen to bird when one meal is missed, then two?
                  - When will the rubber band or plastic decompose?

          2 Biodegradable versus non biodegradable, organic versus inorganic, recyclable versus
          non recyclable
          Plastic does not break down easily. Wind and waves cannot crush or shatter this material.
          It is not soluble in water. The persistent nature of plastic is the biggest threat to the
          environment. Plastic is a hazard to animals, even years after it is discarded. Show the
          poster.
LOATHSOME LITTER                          M-07                                               page 4
          How long will it take for the plastic to decompose? Is it biodegradable? Is it organic?
          Compare it to paper products which do degrade if exposed to the air, and products that
          are used by microorganisms for food. Show the 2 containers, one with the decaying food
          item.

          Give the children the "How Long Will It Last?" handout.
          Use samples in the plastic bag to relate to the handout.
          Relate generations to show how long the years are. At twenty-five years old they may
          have children, at fifty years they may be grandparents, at seventy-five years they could be
          great grandparents, at one hundred years great, great grandparents.

   CONCLUSION:
       3. Solutions to plastic problems:
       Because plastics are made from petroleum by-products, they are relatively inexpensive to
       manufacture. Oil is a commodity that we import and has become the source of
       international problems. Ask the children, if we reduced our plastic production, could we
       substantially reduce our need for oil?

            Some positive activities to do about plastic:
               a)Reduce – cutting down on the amount of trash, cuts overall garbage made that
               must be put somewhere. Cut out using throwaway items, such as bags and
               wrappers. Use washable canvas bags, wrapping can be recycled paper or the item is
               put in a reusable, washable plastic container. What do the kids do to reduce?
               b) Recycle – Use the samples in the plastic bag and discuss what can be recycled.
               What are other ways to recycle?
               c) Reuse - (use reusable Tupperware containers instead of baggies).
               Adults -bring own reusable cups for coffee, soda drinks. Ask for ideas.
               d) Can the children think of some solutions to these problems:
                    - What can the average American family do to eliminate plastics in the
                    environment?
                    -What steps should the government take to eliminate plastic pollution?       -
               What alternatives can we use instead of plastic packing materials for
                    shipping and products (things we buy at the store)?
                    - How could you reduce the amount of plastic in your school lunch?

   Reaffirm the 3 R's – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
   Ask the children how the 3 "R's" are alike (if you reduce the use of something you probably are
   recycling and reusing). Leave a recycling handout for the teacher

   Resources:
       A Citizen's Guide to Plastics in the Ocean,: More Than A Litter Problem: published by Center
       for Marine Conservation, DC, 1988.




LOATHSOME LITTER                         M-07                                               page 5
                    M-07 LOATHSOME LITTER MATERIALS LIST

    ACTIVITY
                     QUANTITY
                     DESCRIPTION

Plastic                       1           large baggie with 6-pack plastic rings
                              1           baggie with more baggies,

―Jelly fish‖                  1           large jar with baggie in water

―Bird beak‖                   1           butter tub with rubber bands
                              1           butter tub with beans
                              1           butter tub with rice, corn and beans

―Enduring litter‖             1           large net bag with misc. litter --
                                          cans, jar, rope, paper, cloth wood
                              1           water bottle with styrofoam pellets in it

Wildlife                      1           Herring gull study skin #129
                                          with plastic ring and fishing line
                              1           photos of water birds with plastic rings around
                                          neck

Examples for RECYCLING        1           various plastic tubs (only 2 are recyclable).
                              1           PETE bottle (read page 1 of background
                                          information from PCC)
                              1           bag with cornstarch-based packing material
                              1           6-pack plastic ring basket

Examples for REUSE       1         Rubbermaid box
                              1          Thermos

Handouts                      1           ―How long will it last?‖
                              1           Enduring Litter handout

Posters (V-3)                 2           Loathsome litter
                                          Help solve the problem

Books                         2           ―Plastic Eliminators‖
                              1           ―A Citizen’s Guide to Plastics in the Ocean‖
                              1           ―Bay on Trial‖ newspaper in pocket




LOATHSOME LITTER                   M-07                                               page 6
                    M-07 LOATHSOME LITTER MATERIALS LIST

    ACTIVITY
                     QUANTITY
                     DESCRIPTION

Plastic                       1           large baggie with 6-pack plastic rings
                              1           baggie with more baggies,

―Jelly fish‖                  1           large jar with baggie in water

―Bird beak‖                   1           butter tub with rubber bands
                              1           butter tub with beans
                              1           butter tub with rice, corn and beans

―Enduring litter‖             1           large net bag with misc. litter --
                                          cans, jar, rope, paper, cloth wood
                              1           water bottle with styrofoam pellets in it

Wildlife                      1           Herring gull study skin #129
                                          with plastic ring and fishing line
                              1           photos of water birds with plastic rings around
                                          neck

Examples for RECYCLING        1           various plastic tubs (only 2 are recyclable).
                              1           PETE bottle (read page 1 of background
                                          information from PCC)
                              1           bag with cornstarch-based packing material
                              1           6-pack plastic ring basket

Examples for REUSE       1         Rubbermaid box
                              1          Thermos

Handouts                      1           ―How long will it last?‖
                              1           Enduring Litter handout

Posters (V-3)                 2           Loathsome litter
                                          Help solve the problem

Books                         2           ―Plastic Eliminators‖
                              1           ―A Citizen’s Guide to Plastics in the Ocean‖
                              1           ―Bay on Trial‖ newspaper in pocket




LOATHSOME LITTER                   M-07                                               page 7

				
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