What do you put your shopping items in? Does this happen to be a convenient plastic bag you get at a checkout? Have you ever wondered what happens with the bag once you put it in a bin?





  • to-go container –  a box to put take-out food in
  • utensils – a tool, container, or other article, especially for household use
  • digest – treat (a substance) with heat, enzymes, or a solvent in order to decompose it or extract essential components
  • landfill – the disposal of waste material by burying it, especially as a method of filling in and reclaiming excavated pits
  • sustainable – conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources
  • disposable – intended to be thrown away after use
  • outnumber – be more numerous than
  • alliance – the state of being joined or associated


Think about it

Answer the questions below. For answers, pause the recording at times indicated in brackets.

  • What has happened to all the plastic manufactured so far? (0:30)
  • What does the number 88,000 refer to? (0:36)
  • What is downcycling? Why is it called this way? (0:55)
  • What is the main ingredient of plastic? What does the number 1,000,000 refer to? (1:20)
  • Who are the members of PPC (Plastic Polution Coalition) and what do they do? (2:42)
  • What can you do to protect the planet from plastic pollution? (3:20)


Practice makes perfect

Put the words in bold back where they belong. Answers: http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/the-movement/

creatures    –    inestimable    –    exposure    –    durable    –    seeping    –    outweighs    –    discard    –    leach    –    thrown    –    repel

Plastic never goes away.

Plastic is a ________ material made to last forever, yet illogically, 33 percent of it is used once and then ________ away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastic spoils our groundwater.

There are thousands of landfills in the United States. Buried beneath each one of them, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals is ________ into groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

Plastic attracts other pollutants.

Manufacturers’ additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPAs and PVCs, can ________ their own toxins. These oily poisons ________ water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.

Plastic threatens wildlife.

Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris ________ zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.

Plastic piles up in the environment.

Americans ________ more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8 percent of that gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is incinerated, or becomes the invasive species known as  ‘litter.’ 

Plastic poisons our food chain.

Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that ________ up the food chain require.

Plastic affects human health.

Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. ________ to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

Plastic costs billions to abate.

Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is ________ .


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