The Life of a Plastic Bottle

The Kid Should See This

What happens to a plastic bottle after we’ve used it and thrown it into a recycling bin… or when it’s thrown into the trash? What are monomers and polymers and how do they affect our environment? And how are plastics so prevalent in our oceans?

TED Ed’s The Life of a Plastic Bottle follows three potential destinations for the average plastic bottle: A landfill, the ocean, or reuse through recycling. It’s an informative reminder as to why the Five Rs and plastic alternatives like these are so important.


Related information from Reuters: A powerful visualization of the accumulation of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, almost one million every minute.

Related listening: The Voyage of the Ocean Trash from Tumble Science podcast for kids.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast, swirling soup of trash, twice the size of Texas. Can we ever clean it up? That’s what 8-year-old Ila wants to know. She lives in Hawaii and likes to pick up trash whenever she goes to the beach. She lives closer to the garbage patch than most of us. We talk to Jenni Brandon, a researcher who has been to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a place where few people will visit, but where we all have an impact. She tells us how surreal it is to sail through trash, why the garbage patch exists, and what scientists are doing about it.

Learn more with these videos: Ocean Confetti, the challenge of micro-plastics, The Ocean Cleanup technology and challenges explained, One Plastic Beach: Making art from found beach plastic, and what is a gyre?

Plus: How plastic is made, How Trash Is Recycled with LeVar Burton and what is the Circular Economy?

Bonus: Videos about zero waste and sustainability.

Rion Nakaya