Crash Course in Plastic Pollution

In 10 minutes, you will learn the basics of plastic pollution sources, consequences, and solutions.

A quick lesson on the abundance & sources of plastic pollution, the associated impacts on human health, the economy, marine life, & climate change, and attainable & innovative solutions to the problem.

Additional reading: Debris Free Oceans’ blog; Plastic & Climate: the Hidden Cost of Plastic Planet CIEL report; Plastic & Health: the Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet CIEL report

Standards met: HE.912.C.1.3, SC.912.L.17.11, SC.912.L.17.14, SC.912.L.17.16, SC.912.L.17.17

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Environmental Injustice in the Caribbean and the US

In 1 hour you will learn about environmental injustice with Teju Adisa-Farrar.

Learn about environmental injustice with Teju Adisa-Farrar, MS, an equity consultant, geographer, writer, and intersectional environmental activist. Teju teaches about historical environmental racism in the United States, and instances of injustice related to her experiences as a Jamaican-American. Maddie from DFO touches on injustices associated with the lifecycle of single-use plastics, and historical and ongoing environmental racism in Miami.

Additional reading: Petrochemical America by Richard Misrach; Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility, by Dr. Dorceta Taylor; Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Standards met: SC.912.L.17.20, SC.912.L.17.16, HE.912.C.1.3, SS.912.S.7.2

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Composting & Food Waste

1.75 h to learn about food waste, how to avoid generating it, and how to compost.

Learn about the problems associated with food waste, how to avoid generating food waste through responsible shopping and meal prep, and how to sustainably dispose of food scraps through composting. This lesson features lessons on various methods of composting, including community composts, bin composts, tumbling composts, and worm composts! You will hear from Sanna O’Sullivan, head gardener at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Julie Frans, head chef at Della Bowls, and more.

Additional reading: Reduce your food waste with these 7 helpful tips by della bowls.

Standards met: SC.912.L.17.20, SC.912.L.17.17

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Sustainable Urban Gardening

A two-hour course on how to create a sustainable garden at home and the importance of gardening education.

Learn about how to create a sustainable garden at home, the importance of gardening education, and how these activities contribute to the health of Biscayne Bay. Jennifer Possley, South Florida Conservation Program Manager at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, speaks about the importance of native plants & how you can acquire free ones through the Connect to Protect Program. Then Muriel Olivares, Co-Owner of Little River Cooperative, teaches about low-waste, chemical-free, urban gardening and Community Supported Agriculture. Next, Jackie Roth, Project Coordinator at Lotus House Shelter, speaks about the shelter’s hydroponic farm, and using it as a tool to empower shelter guests with gardening education. Finally, Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper talks about how this all relates to the August 2020 fish kill and how sustainable gardening & community involvement can help save Biscayne Bay.

Additional reading: “Florida, Polluted Paradise” – Look Magazine article from 1949; Little River Cooperative blog; Connect to Protect native planting guide

Standards met: SC.912.L.17.20, SC.912.L.17.16, SC.912.L.17.17, SC.912.L.17.15, SC.912.L.17.12

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Sustainable Fashion

In 45 minutes you’ll learn all about how to be an eco-conscious consumer from sustainable fashion experts!

The fashion business is one of the most polluting industries. Hear from Colleen Coughlin, founder of the Full Edit, about the importance of repairing, upcycling, and repurposing items! Then learn from Anna Coon from UThrift about the second-hand market and the importance of avoiding fast fashion. Lastly, Laura Graham, Director of Apparel at Waterlust, discusses recycling single-use plastics into clothing and using ocean-inspired patterns to communicate about marine conservation.

Additional reading: “The Environmental Cost of Making Things” and “Taking the Leap into Advocate Apparel”, both Waterlust blog posts.

Standards met: SC.912.L.17.20, SC.912.L.17.17,SC.912.L.17.15

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Self-Care and Sustainability

Learn in 1.5 h how to better take care of yourself while simultaneously taking care of the planet!

After a brief summary of the problem of plastic pollution and pervasiveness of single-use plastics in the self-care industry, Lush Cosmetics Sustainability Manager Katrina Shum speaks about sustainability in the beauty industry, and about their initiatives to create “naked” packaging-free products. Megan Newmans, Doterra Essential Oils Wellness Advocate, then talks about how to use essential oils to make your own DIY body products and cleaning supplies to avoid plastic packaging. DFO’s Chef Andrew Scholar Director Sofia then discusses how to take care of your mental health as a social and environmental advocate. Finally, Julianne Aerhee of Be-Within guides you through an earth-inspired closing meditation.

Standards met: SC.912.L.17.20, SC.912.L.17.17

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Standards

Here you can find more information about the Florida Department of Education’s academic standards and how they are met by our curriculum.

SC.912.L.17.14

Assess the need for adequate waste management strategies.

  • Plastic pollution requires effective waste management strategies.
  • Landfilling of plastic contributes to climate change
  • The process of plastic recycling is currently “broken”

SC.912.L.17.11

Evaluate the costs and benefits of renewable and nonrenewable resources, such as water, energy, fossil fuels, wildlife, and forests.

  • Incorrect assumptions about fossil fuels have led to significant decline in environmental quality, including the false assumption that we have limitless access to oil and disposal capacity.
  • Discussion is provided about how nonrenewable resources must be viewed in a circular, not linear, manner, if we want to continue using them.
  • It is noted that the overconsumption of renewable resources (e.g. paper) can also be costly. A material is only renewable if consumed consciously. 

SC.912.L.17.15

Discuss the effects of technology on environmental quality.

  • Technological advances resulted in the mass production of plastic in the 1950s after World War II, which has led to a plastic pollution crisis harming environmental quality
  • Technological advances in recycling can enhance environmental quality

SC.912.L.17.16

Discuss the large-scale environmental impacts resulting from human activity, including waste spills, oil spills, runoff, greenhouse gases, ozone depletion, and surface and groundwater pollution.

  • Waste spills and runoff of plastic harms land and water animals as well as human health.
  • Leachate from landfills contaminates groundwater.
  • Plastic manufacturing, transport, and disposal all release greenhouse gases, causing sea level rise and climate change.

SC.912.L.17.8

Recognize the consequences of the losses of biodiversity due to catastrophic events, climate changes, human activity, and the introduction of invasive, non-native species.

  • Plastic pollution from human activity impacts >700 marine species; by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have consumed plastic
  • Plastic pollution also impacts soil, plants, and land animals

SC.912.L.17.18

Describe how human population size and resource use relate to environmental quality.

  • With billions of people on the planet, every single-use plastic item matters (i.e. “It is only 1 plastic straw” – said 8 billion people). 

SC.912.L.17.20

Predict the impact of individuals on environmental systems and examine how human lifestyles affect sustainability.

  • Adopting a lifestyle focused on the 5Rs (especially reduce) can eliminate a majority of the plastic consumed and disposed of.
  • Tips on how to reduce single-use plastic consumption on a daily basis are provided.

SC.912.L.17.17

Assess the effectiveness of innovative methods of protecting the environment.

  • Miranda Wang’s technology to convert non-recyclable plastic back into its original chemicals for resale on the market can help solve the climate crisis.
  • Eco-friendly brands are using innovative technologies to incorporate recycled plastic into shoes and clothing (Waterlust, Parley, Girlfriend Collective, Volcom)
  • Boyan Slat’s ocean cleanup project may cause more harm than good when put into practice in the ocean; technologies applied to rivers and stormwater outfalls may be more effective.

SC.912.L.17.12:

Discuss the political, social, and environmental consequences of sustainable use of land.

  • Employing sustainable gardening methods such as organic gardening (avoiding pesticides and fertilizers) and hydroponic farming to prevent groundwater pollution and nutrient run-off into our oceans
  • How plastic production and waste management contributes to unsustainable land use, as fracking, petrochemical plants, and landfills contribute to air and water pollution

SC.912.N.4.1: 

Explain how scientific knowledge and reasoning provide an empirically-based perspective to inform society’s decision making.

  • Using plastic pollution data to inform plastic reduction ordinances

SC.912.CS-PC.1.3

Evaluate the impacts of irresponsible use of information (e.g., plagiarism and falsification of data) on collaborative projects.

  • Discussion of greenwashing: the recycling symbol and labels of biodegradability & compostability are not regulated by the FTC
  • The plastics industry has used COVID-19 to ignite fear of reusables but this is not backed by scientific evidence

SC.912.L.17.3

Discuss how various oceanic and freshwater processes, such as currents, tides, and waves, affect the abundance of aquatic organisms.

  • Oceanic currents that dictate nutrient distribution also drive the distribution of marine organisms. These currents may also be influencing microplastic pollution, and therefore may be delivering plastic pollution to biodiversity hot spots (take this out-item 11 in literature review)

SC.912.CS-PC.2.1

Describe how the Internet facilitates global communication.

  • How images and videos on social media have contributed to the anti-plastic pollution movement (the viral video of straw in turtle’s nose leading to the skip-the-straw movement; the image of a horseshoe crab using a bottle cap as its shell; the image of a seahorse holding onto a Q-tip)
  • Social media challenges leading to global cleanup efforts (Take 3 for the Sea; the Glove Challenge)

HE.912.C.1.3

Evaluate how environment and personal health are interrelated.

  • Plastic pollution in the environment can ultimately end up in the food chain and in the seafood we consume, impacting human health.
  • Plastic manufacturing contributes to air pollution that has been linked to various human health concerns including cancer and reproductive impairment.
  • Microplastics and plastic additives can leach from wrappers, containers, and bottles into your food and drink, impacting human health

SS.912.S.7.2

Describe how social problems have changed over time. Examples may include, but are not limited to, juvenile delinquency, crime, poverty, and discrimination.

  • Historically, landfills and waste facilities are located near BIPOC communities, leading to disproportionately health impacts caused by pollution
  • More and more plastic production facilities/petrochemical plants are being constructed near majority BIPOC communities, and the associated air pollution is leading to disproportionate health impacts on Black and Brown communities (ie Cancer Alley)

I can’t fully express how much I enjoyed the [online] workshop. You (Maddie) and the other presenters really did a wonderful, informative, and engaging presentation.

Anonymous Attendee