Plastic Pollution in Australia

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Plastic Pollution in Australia by Mind Map: Plastic Pollution in Australia

1. Learning that is inquiry based in nature allows for students to explore topics with a sense of independence and responsibility (Reynolds, 2014). Teaching humanities through inquiry provides students with opportunities to ‘become lifelong learners and see education as important in the real word’ (Reynolds, 2004, p.53). Through activating my prior knowledge of plastic pollution, I was able to consider the role in which plastic plays in my life. In doing this, I was ‘incorporating new knowledge into constructs already established’ (Reynolds, 2014, p.50) in my own mind. Furthermore, I was able to place the issue at hand in perspective and found myself contemplating how myself as an individual could be proactive in reducing the cause. Through this consideration, I found myself ‘internally motivated’ to know more. Reynolds (2014) discusses how encouraging learning that allows for students to be internally motivated and thus, facilitators of their own learning is true inquiry. I felt a sense of accomplishment in taking control of my own learning, as I was ultimately responsible for discovering the information. With plastic pollution being an issue that sits at Australia’s forefront, I felt purpose in engaging in the task as it was reflective of a real life issue. Reynolds (2014) describes real word tasks and issues as key characteristics of inquiry based learning. Through exploration of the guiding questions, I was able to self-direct my learning, as I researched the issue, which in turn encouraged me to critically think about the overuse of plastic in Australia. Reynolds (2014) and Victoria University (2018) highlight how inquiry learning is a useful tool for developing students understanding of issues that are complex and of importance to all citizens. Plastic pollution provides a platform for implementing change. I felt encouraged to truly consider my actions and how I play a role in impacting the environment. Learning that is inquiry based should motivate students to be reflective of the notion of advocacy (Reynolds, 2014; Victoria University, 2018). Gilbert & Hoepper (2014) suggest that skills and knowledge gained through the teaching of humanities will remain with students throughout the entirety of their schooling and beyond. Through exploring the issue of pollution in Australia, I was able to consider how I can make a difference, which in turn will influence my future decisions surrounding the use of plastic.

2. Critical Reflection:

3. Rationale:

4. Ensuring that plastic in appropriately recycled is beneficial in nature as it; reduces landfill, saves energy, helps to conserve raw materials as well as reduce CO2 emissions (Sustainability Victoria, 2017). We can use less plastic by limiting the amount of plastic food packaging that we purchase (Australian Ethical, 2018; Sustainability Victoria, 2017). We can be mindful of purchasing products that are not made from plastic, such as glass and in turn are reusable in nature (Australian Ethical, 2018; Sustainability Victoria, 2017). Say no to plastic bags when shopping by using 'Green Bags,' cloth bags or hessian bags (Australian Ethical, 2018; Sustainability Victoria, 2017). Through saying no to bottled water and investing in a reusable drink bottle, our plastic intake can be heavily reduced (Australian Ethical, 2018; My Plastic Free Life, 2018). Furthermore, saying no to straws and fruit packaged in plastic bags, means decreasing your use of plastic!

4.1. 5. How can we use less plastic?

5. 4. How does the overuse of plastic combined with a lack of recycling affect our natural environment?

5.1. 130,000 tonnes of plastic ending up in Australian oceans each year means environments acting as habitats for animals are ultimately polluted. Not only are these habitats affected, so too are the animals that depend on these waters for survival (WWF,2018). The World Wildlife Fund (2018) notes '85% of Australian seabirds are affected by plastic pollution' (p.1). Masses of plastic floating throughout the water is easily mistaken as food. Here, marine animals ingest the plastic; 'turtles can choke on plastic bags mistaken for jellyfish, seabirds get entangled and larger animals like whales can starve because their stomachs are so full of plastic' (WWF, 2018, p.2). Verhagen (2016) notes that plastic often ends up in our oceans from being carried through drainage systems for storm water. 'Once there, it can persist in the water column for hundreds of years, and evidence suggests more than 200 species of marine animals end up ingesting it' (Verhagen, 2016, p.1).

6. 1. What is plastic?

6.1. Plastic can be described as a synthetic material that is created when organic molecules (found in wood fibers, natural gas and crude oil) join together to create polymers (Verhagen, 2016). Polymers are chains of molecules- masses of polymers are called 'resins' (Verhagen, 2016). Resins can be manipulated, providing the final product of plastic with various features such as colors, shapes and flexibility (Verhagen, 2016). The 1950's saw plastic becoming mass produced and today, Australia is responsible for producing 1.2 million tonnes of plastic each and every year (Verhagen, 2016).

7. The following items can be placed in your curbside recycling bin; (Sustainability Victoria, 2017).

7.1. Biscuit Trays

7.2. Milk bottles if washed out & their lids if removed

7.3. Soft drink bottles if washed out & their lids if removed

7.4. Cleaning product bottles if washed out

7.5. Fruit & vegetable punnets

7.6. Detergent bottles if washed out

7.7. Roll-on deodorant sticks

7.8. Medicine bottles

7.9. Yogurt containers if washed out

7.10. Shampoo & conditioner bottles if washed out

7.11. Take-away food containers if washed out

7.12. Frozen food bags

7.13. Bread, rice & pasta bags

7.14. Lolly packets

8. 3. What plastics can be recycled?

9. 2. Where does plastic end up?

10. With a growing dependence on plastic in our everyday lives, the notion of single use has become more apparent. The WWF (2018) notes that a shocking 95% of plastic bags are only used once before they are disregarded. This equates to a total of 9.7 billion plastic bags used once, annually (WWF, 2018). With only 12% of plastics recycled each year in Australia, unfortunately, a large percentage of this plastic, 130,000 tones to be exact will end up in our oceans (WWF, 2018). Peer reviewed science journal Science Advances notes that by 2050, there will exist 12 million kilograms of plastic in landfill and among natural environments (Greenpeace, 2017).

11. National Geographic We Depend On Plastic. Now, We’re Drowning in It.

11.1. My Plastic Free Life 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life » My Plastic-free Life

11.1.1. Australian Ethical 22 tips for going plastic free - Australian Ethical - Super and Managed Funds

12. World Wildlife Fund Plastic pollution - WWF-Australia

12.1. Environmental Health News The environmental toll of plastics

12.1.1. World Animal Protection How plastic pollution is affecting seals and other marine life

12.1.1.1. One Green Planet These 5 Marine Animals Are Dying Because of Our Plastic Trash … Here’s How We Can Help

13. Sustainability Victoria How to reduce, reuse and recycle your household plastic waste

13.1. ABC News What plastics can you recycle?

13.1.1. Plastics: Make it Possible The Ultimate 9 Quick Tips to Recycle More Plastics

14. Guiding Questions

14.1. 1. What is plastic?

14.2. 2. Where does plastic end up once it has been used?

14.3. 3. What can be recycled?

14.4. 4. How does a lack of recycling affect our natural environment?

14.5. 5. How can we use less plastic?

15. Prior Knowledge

15.1. Household plastic items e.g. water bottles, chip packets, snap lock bags, glad wrap. plastic shopping bags, plastic fruit bags, take away containers, sanitary products,

15.2. Plastic/rubbish around the school yard on yard duty.

15.3. Plastic/rubbish along the beach

15.4. Dependence on plastic in everyday life

16. Resources

16.1. Australian Geographic Pulling the plug on plastic - Australian Geographic

16.2. ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-12/what-you-can-do-to-reduce-plastic-pollution/9642352

16.3. Australian Marine Conservation Society https://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/ocean-plastic-pollution.htm

16.4. The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2018/apr/17/the-plastic-tsunami-pollution-across-australias-coastlines-in-pictures

16.5. SBS News Australia accused of dithering on marine plastic pollution

16.6. The Sydney Morning Herald Changing the game on plastic

16.7. Victoria State Government Plastic pollution

17. Responses to Guiding Questions

18. On average each year, Australians utilize approximately 130 kilograms of plastic, and only a shocking 12% of this is recycled (World Wildlife Fund, 2018). Of this plastic, 130,000 tones will unfortunately find itself swimming in and amongst Australian waters (WWF, 2018). Low cost production and durability means that plastic is all around us, and has become a part of our everyday lives (Verhagen, 2016). Mass production of plastic has meant that processes put in place to effectively dispose of it have become overwhelmed and sent into overdrive, resulting in more plastic items than available recycling facilities (Verhagen, 2016). Explicit links can be made between Australia’s plastic pollution epidemic and the Catholic Social Teaching principle ‘Stewardship of God’s Creation.’ Stewardship of God’s Creation describes the connection between the natural environment and human life. Here, we act as care takers for the land; ‘people are to respect and share the resources of the earth, since we are all part of the community of creation’ (DeBerri, Hug, Henriot & Schultheis, 2004, p.33). It is here that the responsibility of humans plays a role in ensuring that we are effectively contributing to the growth and maintenance of the land in a positive way; ‘by our work we are co-creators in the continuing development of the earth’ (DeBerri et al., 2004). It is essential that primary aged students are aware of and familiar with current issues faced by Australia. Through exposure to issues that will directly affect them, students have the opportunity to be motivated, active participants in contributing positively to making a difference. Reynolds (2014) notes that inquiry learning is ‘useful as a way of developing deep understanding of complex issues of importance to all citizens’ (p.50).