Even if plastics are found deep inland, they eventually find their way to the sea or ocean through rivers and streams. The global consumption of plastic was 260

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Plastic Pollution This module 1 is intended for elementary or secondary education teachers interested in teaching their classroom about plastic pollution and for anyone interested in learning about the impacts of plastic pollution on our environment and society and actions we can take to diminish this problem. Lessons within this module: o Plastic Overview o Birds o Fish o Turtles o Coral Reefs o Humans o Tourism and Livelihood: Paradise? o 5 Gyres: Garbage Patch o Solutions 1 Supplementary items are also provided for this module: Classroom activities, Class projects, Scientific reports focused on Belize, Collages, Posters, Fact sheets, and Information sheets

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Related learning goals as specified by the Ministry of Education: 2 (Social Studies: U) What is the role of our natural resources in the Social, Political, and Economic development of th e country? (Social Studies: MU) How do some human activities and industries harm our natural resources? (Science: M) How is water polluted? (Science: M) How is waste being disposed of in Belize? (Science : L) What are examples of improper waste disposal? (Science: M) How are animals and plants affected by pollution? (Social Studies: L) What is Tourism? Who is a tourist? (Social St (Social Studies: M) What are the disadvantages of any damage caused to the environment? (Social Studies: U) What are the anti – pollution measures we can take? (Science: L) What are some responsible methods of waste disposal? Recycling? Composting? (Social Studies: U) What organizations are involved in the conservation of our natural resources? 2 L = Elementary school Lower Division, M = Elementary school Middle Division, and U = Elementary school Upper Division

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Plastic Overview Plastics are everywhere, in our home, school, work, playground, parks, and beaches. It is such a popular material because it is flexible, lightweight, moisture resistant, and inexpensive. Even if plastics are found deep inland, they eventually find their way to the sea or ocean through rivers and streams. The global consumpti on of plastic was 260 million tons in 2008. It is estimated to reach 297.5 million tons by 2015. Bio – degradation is the natural break – down of organic substances. For example, dead plants and animals eventually decay. Plastic does not bio – degrade. Nature does not know how to break down plastic because of what plastic is made of. Photo – degradation is the break – up of materials by the sun. When something is photo – degraded, it does not change its composition the way it does if it were bio – degraded. The only t hing that changes is its size. Plastic can photo – degrade. In large periods of time, plastics break down into very small pieces of plastic that float around. Plastic Pollution has many negative effects on the environment. We will discuss the impacts on bir ds, fish, turtles, coral reefs, human health, and on tourism and the livelihood of people.

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Birds Causes: Red, white, and light brown plastic particles floating on the surface are mistaken for plankton Light brown particles resemble fish eggs Birds scavenging for food in the trash thrown overboard by ship may ingest plastic Birds who feed through pursuit (e.g. penguin) or plunge (e.g. pelican) diving do not have the time to distinguish food from plastic as they dive into the water Parent birds, trying to feed their chicks, may regurgitate plastic into the chicks’ mouths Parent birds may integrate plastic into their nests Toxic chemicals leach out of plastics and can be ingested by birds c bags Consequences: Plastics cause the birds internal blockages and injuries. Birds are usually not able to process or excrete the plastic they have consumed Birds with plastic in their stomachs may stop feeling hungry, stop hunting for food, and eventua lly starve to death Chicks who have ingested plastics can suffer intestinal obstructions and may develop ulcers Plastic particles are now being found in the stomachs of birds in the Antarctic and sub – Antarctic. This is a signal that our plastic pollution is increasing because these areas were considered to be untouched by pollution

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Fish Causes: They may ingest the toxic chemicals leached from plastics When small fish eat plastic and a bigger fish eats many of these little (contaminated) fish, the big fish ends up with an accumulation of plastic in its system Consequences: Ingestion of plastic causes intestinal injury and death Entangled fish cannot move to escape predators or to look for food Fish and marine mammals wounded by plastic rings or rop es may develop infections in their open wounds

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Turtles Causes: jellyfish and a floating plastic bag Turtles also ingest plastic ropes, Styrofoam, and other plastic fishing equipment They may ingest the toxic chemicals leached from plastics They become entangled in plastic rings and fishing nets Consequences: Plastic ingestion causes blockage in the gut, ulceration, internal perforation, and death Turtles may feel full because of the plastic, causing them to starve to death Entangled turtles cannot move to escape predators or to look for food Turtles that get trapped in plastic rings eventually grow around them, causing their bodies to be deformed and their or gans to not develop properly

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