Litter and pollution in the sea Mranaked

Litter in our seas can cause harm to all forms of animals, from tiny plankton to giant whales. These resources will help students explore the impacts of litter on marine life.

Getting started

Be sure to read our getting started guide first. The guide tells you how our lessons have been designed to be used, and gives you a breakdown of the features included in each one.

1. How clean are our seas?

This lesson gives an overview of the litter in our seas, looking at why it’s an important topic and focusing particularly on how animals are affected by litter.

2. From source to sea

Children litter picking during Great British Beach Clean 2020 Kate Whitton

Credit: Kate Whitton

Explore how your local area connects to the ocean and how litter travels from sources on land to the sea.

3. The plastic plague

Beach litter at Crantock beach Cornwall Natasha Ewins

Credit: Natasha Ewins

Sort litter items into their raw materials, look into properties and degradation times of various litter items. Consider the effect this has on the environment. 

4. Litter in the environment

Filling in the litter survey during the Great British Beach Clean 2020 Kate Whitton

Credit: Kate Whitton

Students will experience litter in the environment first-hand by taking part in a litter survey.

Results will then be analysed, looking at the sources and properties of litter, considering how it could impact the environment.

5. The Plastic Challenge

Picking up plastic bottle on a beach Triocean

Credit: Triocean via Shutterstock

Consider how students, your school and the local community can reduce their environmental impact by helping to reduce the amount of litter being produced, used and disposed of.

6. Artivism

See how environmental artists have used art to raise awareness of marine litter.

Create an artivism (art and activism) piece to raise awareness amongst your school and local community of the problem of marine litter.


Credit: MDJerry/Unsplash

7. Unflushables

This lesson focuses on the many problems wet wipes cause when flushed down the toilet.

Students will conduct an experiment focusing on materials and their properties, going on to create a campaign for change in their school or community.

Wet wipe on Hayle Beach Cornwall Natasha Ewins

Credit: Natasha Ewins

8. Microfibres

Learn how microfibres released from clothes when they're washed affects marine animals.

Students will conduct an investigation into this little known form of microplastic pollution to observe its impacts. The session is full of creative ideas to engage your students with the topic of fast fashion, including learning how to mend clothes and running a second-hand fashion show.

Extra resources

Download a copy of the extra resources included in the lesson plans here: