Marine Debris

Marine Debris

Everyone's Problem

Guided Exploration

Garbage is part of the human experience, but the disposal of our waste can lead to complicated side effects. Marine debris is one of these side effects that is impacting our oceans. With this exploration, your students can investigate the origin of marine debris, the impacts it has on our waterways, and mitigation techniques that are being utilized to address the issue.

Each session includes guidelines and materials to explore the featured topic. Our guided explorations are also designed with space for educators to make the sessions their own!  Use the included materials, or draw from the "Build-Your-Own Lesson Plan" section below to tweak the sessions for your specific needs.

Guided Review

Marine debris is a stark visual reminder that modern economies are based on consumption without much thought for long-term consequences. With these resources, you will learn about the ways marine debris enters the waterways, impacts marine life, and how it is being cleaned-up.

Each module will include a combination of readings, videos, and online resources to create an immersive virtual experience. This review is also intended to inspire further investigation, so please explore the resources available below as well as the associated Curriculum Collections.

Build-your-own lesson plan

Use these curated resources from a wide variety of organizations to build your own lesson plan around marine debris. Screen a video to spark a debate or discussion. Incorporate a DIY project into your lesson to add a hands-on component. Focus on what kinds of questions the data can answer. Share your lesson plans with us, and we will add them to the collection!

Resource Toolbox

Use these curated resources from a wide variety of organizations to learn more about marine debris. Watch a video or listen in on a webinar. Locate local workshops. Find answers to your questions. Review Relevant Terms...

If there is something you would like to see included in our educator professional development, email us at

Articles & Books

Articles from NOAA, the EPA, and more on types, sources, impacts, and mitigation of marine debris and locations and sizes of garbage patches in this collection of articles for use by you and your students.

DIY Resources

Next time you're headed out to the beach or a nearby park, take along a trash bag for a DIY Cleanup.

More Lesson Plans

Marine debris focused lesson plans and activities from the NOAA, Bay Backpack, Carleton College, and more.

Online Resources

Interactive tools including ArcGIS StoryMaps and Climate Tracker, The Ocean Cleanup the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution initiative, and more.

Webinars & Other Courses

Webinars covering everything from where marine debris comes from to how it might be cleaned-up. Included are NOAA's "Trash Talk," a webinar exploring a proposed Global Plastic Pollution Treaty, and more.

Various Data

Maps such as the Marine Debris Tracker, Litter Glitter Tracking, marine debris loads by state, etc.

Videos & Podcasts

Includes "A Plastic Ocean," a documentary about the global effects of plastic pollution, The Plastic Health Summit's discussions, a short podcast on marine debris movement, and more.