The Plastic Monster, Understanding the consequences of our plastic consumption

Montalvo Arts Center / Teaching Artists in the Schools Residency / 2nd grade, 10 session project, Village Elementary School, Campbell, CA, Spring 2015.


Why is it important to make a Plastic Monster with young students?

Plastic bottles have a negative impact on the environment at different levels: the production of the plastic bottles use a lot of fossil fuel and water, and – as all the plastics which are not being recycled – they pollute the seas and oceans, and are absorbed by many marine life species (mammals, birds, turtles and fish). Students realize that everyone is part of the problem. If we do not pay attention, we all use plastic that we in fact use only once and then discard/recycle.

How did we do it?

I brought to the classes a large bag of plastic trash I gathered along the bay during the Coastal Cleanup, that I keep to show the students. Lots of plastic ends up in the bay: people forget their trash, balls that people play with end up in the wetlands and they cannot be retrieved, light plastic fly, plastic comes floating on small streams. That trash in the classroom is a striking view for the students.

I proposed to the students to bring to school all the empty gallons of plastic after they used them at home. It was mind blowing for them to see how much plastic we buy and use only one time and discard, hopefully by recycling them. But recycling takes energy. (After the exercise they decided to try to use less plastic at home and see if there are possibilities to buy milk or orange juice in cardboard boxes for the same price – which is a challenge).

We knew we had a show at Montalvo Arts Center during the Spring and decided together to create a large Plastic Monster to share our concerns about the fact that we use so much plastic and that it is bad for our environment.