This Friday, 3 July is International Plastic Bag-Free Day! Can you go for a whole day without using a plastic bag? What about a week?

The planet has a plastic problem. Around eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, killing 100,000 marine animals. There was even a plastic bag found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest natural trench in the ocean.

Large pieces of plastic can be damaging to sea life, for example if a dolphin gets caught in plastic fishing wire. But, even when plastic breaks down, it is still dangerous. Microplastics (pieces smaller than five millimetres) have been found in the stomachs of the deepest sea creatures.

There is no easy solution. Part of the problem is that plastic takes decades, even centuries, to break down. However, there are easy ways to reduce our plastic use in everyday life:

1. Buy a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, and lunchbox.

2. Find out if a local supermarket has a “plastic-free” aisle.

3. Wrap up food in beeswax wrap instead of cling film.

4. Carry your own cutlery rather than using disposable plastic.

5. Ditch plastic straws unless you need them — or switch to paper or metal straws instead.

What are your best plastic-free tips?

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An animated video explains how plastic has polluted the world, and found its way into our bodies. And yet it began as a wonder material that solved countless problems. Has plastic been good or bad for humanity?


  1. Make a poster encouraging students in your school to take part in Plastic Bag-Free Day on Friday.
  2. Draw a diagram explaining the life cycle of a plastic bag. How is it made, how often is it used, and what happens once it is thrown away?
  3. Write your own news story about the effect that plastic is having on the oceans. If you have time, include some information about how governments are tackling the problem.