How does your plastic use affect marine life?

Grade level: 5 – 6th grades

Skills: Multiplication and Division

Related environmental issues: Plastic Waste 

A whale was found dead on the Murcian coast in southern Spain in late February after swallowing 64 pounds of plastic waste.

Dead Whale Project of Greenpeace Philippines


Most plastic grocery bags are thrown away after being used, and millions of tons of plastic bags end up in the ocean. Those plastic bags have killed marine birds and turtles that confused plastic bags for jellyfish and plankton. The amount of plastic waste found in the ocean in a year is equivalent to five plastic grocery bags for every foot of coastline in the world.

  1. How many grocery bags are found in 1 mile of coastline in a year? (1mile = 5,280 feet)
  2. How many grocery bags are found in 1 mile of coastline in a month?
  3. Every month, 25 volunteers gather at their 1-mile beach to pick up plastic waste.  How many grocery bags does each volunteer need to pick up to clean their beach?
  4. 4.It is reported that the amount of plastic waste will double by 2025. How many grocery bags will be found in 1 mile of coastline in a year of 2025?


Source) New York Times, February 12, 2015. Study Finds Rising Levels of Plastics in Oceans


Answer keys

  1. 26,400 bags (5,280 x 5 = 26,400)
  2. 2,200 bags (26,400 ÷ 12 = 2,200
  3. 88 bags (2,200 ÷ 25 = 88)
  4. 52,800 bags (26,400 x 2 = 52,000)


How much aluminum cans was recycled?

Grade level:  4th – 6th grades

Skills: Converting percents to fractions and decimals

Related environmental issues: Recycle

The bar graph below shows how many percent of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass bottles, and steel cans were recycled in the United States in 2014.


  1. Write down how many percent of each items were recycled. Then convert percents to decimals and fractions. Write fractions in simplest form.


  2. Look at the table you created in #1 and use <, > to show which number is larger.


Sources: “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet” published by the U.S. EPA in November 2016


Answer keys

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