As recently as 2017, plastics pollution on southern Australian beaches has made the news due to illegal dumping of plastic nurdles that resulted in microplastic pollution across the normally pristine Warrnambool coastline. In August 2017, an exhaustive evaluation of marine sediments in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania demonstrated that plastics pollution was ubiquitous throughout Australia’s southern coast, not only in the water column but in sediments. In a single year an estimated 8 million tons of plastic pollution enter our ocean from 192 coastal countries, a staggering number that speaks to the urgency that we take action to mitigate this issue especially in urban centers on the coast like Melbourne, Australia.    

Philippe Cousteau and the EarthEcho team explored the second largest and fastest growing city in the country of Australia connecting with stakeholders,  city planners,  and citizen scientists in Melbourne during October 2018. Alongside 25 Expedition Fellows (teachers from Australia and the United States), Philippe learned more about how actions in the city can have dramatic consequences in the deep blue. We worked with local researchers and policymakers to examine the various sources of land‐based plastic pollution that has resulted in the waters of the iconic Port Philip Bay being recently described as plastic soup. From fleece fibers in wastewater to degrading buoys to beads in personal care products,  our team examined the persistent presence of plastics in the wider context of other stressors on the system.

It takes more than knowledge of environmental issues to equip young people with civic skills to solve the complex problems facing our planet. Through service learning, youth identify community needs, develop plans and partnerships and are inspired and motivated to take action. The Five Stages of Service Learning—investigation, preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration—provide a reliable process. By understanding how each stage works, youth become effective community changemakers.

  • Day 1 Queenscliff, Australia

    Plastic is ubiquitous and a material that many of us take for granted, especially single-use plastics. While plastic offers convenience and versatility, we have to consider that every piece of plastic ever made still exists on the planet. Philippe Cousteau meets with Mark Rodrigue from Parks Victoria at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, and biologist and filmmaker Sheree Marris, to learn more about the unique ecosystem of southern Australian. Dive in with Philippe and fur seals and more in Port Phillip Bay.
    See all Day 1 updates
  • Day 2 St. Kilda, Australia

    In order to develop solutions to the challenge of plastic pollution, we must track plastic to its source. Philippe Cousteau travels to the Port Phillip EcoCentre to meet with Baykeeper Neil Blake, who explains how plastics find their way into the Bay. Philippe then hits the water with 5 Gyres Ambassador Blair Stafford to trawl for microplastics.
    See all Day 2 updates
  • Day 3 Blairgowerie, Australia

    Philippe Cousteau meets with Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb, the founding director of The Marine Mammal Foundation, to explore how marine ecosystems--and spcifically a unique population of dolphin--are impacted by plastic. From marine mammals to seabirds, plastic has a variety of impacts that Philippe examines with Dr. Jenn Lavers, who studies the health of seabirds through some unusual sampling methods.
    See all Day 3 updates
  • Day 4 Melbourne, Australia

    All of the plastic that we as humans have ever made is still somewhere on the planet. So what solutions exist to help not only remove plastic from places where it is causing damage, but also repurpose the ubiquitous material? Philippe Cousteau hears from experts--including Donna Shiel from Sustainability Victoria, Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue, Anthony Hill from Plastic Pollution Solutions, and staff from the Melbourne Zoo--about options for replacing plastic use and how YOU can help solve the global issues of PlasticSeas.
    See all Day 4 updates
  • Day 1 The Issue

    Plastic is ubiquitous and a material that many of us take for granted, especially single-use plastics. While plastic offers convenience and versatility, we have to consider that every piece of plastic ever made still exists on the planet. Philippe Cousteau meets with Mark Rodrigue from Parks Victoria at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, and biologist and filmmaker Sheree Marris, to learn more about the unique ecosystem of southern Australian. Dive in with Philippe and fur seals and more in Port Phillip Bay.

  • Youth In Action - Shalise’s Ocean Support
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    Youth In Action - Shalise’s Ocean Support

    Meet 12-year old Shalise, a young yet mighty voice in her community against plastic pollution.  Shalise shares with Philippe the story of how she became an ocean activist and what she does for her community and beyond.  

  • Philippe Cousteau on Port Phillip Bay
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    Philippe Cousteau on Port Phillip Bay

  • EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas Fellows at Marine & Freshwater Discovery Centre
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    EarthEcho Expedition: PlasticSeas Fellows at Marine & Freshwater Discovery Centre

  • STEM Career Closeup - Sheree Marris
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    STEM Career Closeup - Sheree Marris

    Sheree Marris is a marine biologist, author, and documentary filmmaker.  Sheree has just finished her fifth book, Melbourne Down Under a stunning photographic book that reveals Melbourne’s best-kept secret – a marine environment more diverse and colorful than any tropical reef.  Learn more about her career and hear advice on how to get started.

  • PlasticSeas: Product Life Cycle
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    PlasticSeas: Product Life Cycle

    In this investigation, students describe the life cycle of man-made products that include or originate from plastic to evaluate how they may impact the environment. Students use a basic life cycle assessment – similar to assessments used by process engineers – that allows them to identify and order the different steps in the life cycle of a product. Using their analyses to compare the impacts of different products, students develop ideas to reduce the environmental impact of the production process or lifecycle of the product.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • STEM Career Closeup - Anthony Hill
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    STEM Career Closeup - Anthony Hill

    Growing up by the beach in Coffs Harbour, northern New South Wales, Anthony Hill has always been a keen surfer and ocean enthusiast. After discovering plastic floating in the fjords of Norway in 2011, Anthony began raising awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution on our environment and was nominated for a national environmental award in 2014. Plastic Pollution Solutions was founded in Sydney in 2014 with the mission to educate to engage behavioral change.

  • PlasticSeas: Microbeads, A Major Problem
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    PlasticSeas: Microbeads, A Major Problem

    As the name suggests, microbeads are very small (microscopic) beads of plastic. Since they are particles of less than 1mm, they are almost impossible to capture as they enter household drains. This leaves these small, solid balls of plastic to enter our aquatic ecosystems where they are ingested by organisms and accumulated within the food web.  In this activity, students are challenged to design and construct their own device to extract microplastics from cosmetic products such as facial cleansers, body wash, and toothpaste.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Presenting Sponsor The Northrop Grumman Foundation
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    Presenting Sponsor The Northrop Grumman Foundation

    Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are dedicated to expanding and enhancing sustainable science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for students globally. Learn more about EarthEcho Expeditions Presenting Sponsor here.

See all Day 1 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 2 The Issue

    In order to develop solutions to the challenge of plastic pollution, we must track plastic to its source. Philippe Cousteau travels to the Port Phillip EcoCentre to meet with Baykeeper Neil Blake, who explains how plastics find their way into the Bay. Philippe then hits the water with 5 Gyres Ambassador Blair Stafford to trawl for microplastics.  

  • PlasticSeas: Nurdle Know-How
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    PlasticSeas: Nurdle Know-How

    Students examine the nature of the problem and work collaboratively to create solutions to the issue of nurdles becoming evermore present in our oceans. Nurdles are small plastic resin pellets which are used to make many of the plastics we use every day. Unfortunately, they end up where they are not supposed to and cause a wide range of problems. Nurdle Know-How is a series of activities that will ultimately prepare students to design and build a nurdle capture system to clean up their local bay, harbor, or coastal waters.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • STEM Career Closeup - Neil Blake
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    STEM Career Closeup - Neil Blake

    Neil’s journey of coastal discovery began in 1985 as a Park Ranger with the City of St Kilda. As a St Kilda penguin study volunteer in fortnightly field trips for 17 years, he saw the increasing influx of plastic pollution. He co-founded Earthcare St Kilda in 1989. As the founder Director of Port Phillip EcoCentre, he nurtured an extensive network of community groups and cross-sectoral partnerships with a focus on ‘againability’.  As Port Phillip Baykeeper he initiated the first-ever long-term study of microplastics in the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers, featured in the award-winning ‘Baykeepers’ film on plastic pollution in the Bay; and designed a suite of citizen science methods to track litter and microplastics from the catchments to the Bay.

  • Plastic Rubbish found on St. Kilda Beach
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    Plastic Rubbish found on St. Kilda Beach

  • Expediton Fellow Song
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    Expediton Fellow Song

    Our 2018 cohort of teachers, known as Expedition Fellows created this song as part of their experience working with EarthEcho.

  • Fellow with Plastics from Litter Audit
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    Fellow with Plastics from Litter Audit

  • Cardboard Planters at Port Phillip Bay EcoCentre
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    Cardboard Planters at Port Phillip Bay EcoCentre

  • Philippe Cousteau with Neil Blake and Blair Stafford
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    Philippe Cousteau with Neil Blake and Blair Stafford

  • Heathwood Hall Presents - Plastic Sea: Researching Marine Pollution
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    Heathwood Hall Presents - Plastic Sea: Researching Marine Pollution

See all Day 2 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 3 The Issue

    Philippe Cousteau meets with Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb, the founding director of The Marine Mammal Foundation, to explore how marine ecosystems--specifically a unique population of dolphin--are impacted by plastic. From marine mammals to seabirds, plastic has a variety of impacts that Philippe examines with Dr. Jenn Lavers, who studies the health of seabirds through some unusual sampling methods.  

  • STEM Career Closeup - Kate Charlton-Robb
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    STEM Career Closeup - Kate Charlton-Robb

    Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb is the Founding Director and Head of Research at the Marine Mammal Foundation. With over 16 years experience researching dolphins across southern Australia, Kate achieved a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Freshwater and Marine Ecology and Zoology and a Doctor of Philosophy. Her research led to the formal description and naming of a new Australian species of dolphin, the Burrunan dolphin, Tursiops australis.  Kate has instigated and supervised numerous applied marine mammal research projects.

  • Fellow and Dr. Kate with the Marine Mammal Foundation
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    Fellow and Dr. Kate with the Marine Mammal Foundation

  • Youth In Action - Hayley and the Marine Champions
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    Youth In Action - Hayley and the Marine Champions

    Meet 18-year-old, Hayley, founder of the Marine Champions program. Hayley and Philippe discuss her passion for youth engagement focusing on actions that youth can take NOW!  

  • Plastic, Sort It Out!
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    Plastic, Sort It Out!

    In this investigation, students design and create a Recycling Sorting Machine to eliminate the amount of waste that is incorrectly being sent to landfill. Students use basic resources (recycled and/or reused items in the classroom, home, or their community) to engineer a solution to the growing problem of waste in our schools.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Fellows on Port Phillip Bay
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    Fellows on Port Phillip Bay

  • Fellow with Burrunan Dolphin Photos
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    Fellow with Burrunan Dolphin Photos

  • Nesting Gannets in Port Phillip Bay
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    Nesting Gannets in Port Phillip Bay

  • PlasticSeas Reduce Your Plastic Use Calendar 2019
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    PlasticSeas Reduce Your Plastic Use Calendar 2019

    This calendar has been created by the EarthEcho InternationalYouth Leadership Council.  These youth, aged 16-22, have made this calendar to spread awareness and
    create habitual change to protect their own future and that of youth all across the world.  We want to thank you for welcoming this eco-conscious calendar to your workspace, office, or home for this year! We hope you are able to utilize this calendar as a way to keep track of your habits and give you ideas for monthly goals to help you live a more sustainable, conscientious lifestyle.

    Within this calendar, each month you will be given a theme and new challenges to try to inspire you and keep yourself accountable throughout those weeks. We would love to hear about how you are keeping up with the monthly challenges in our calendar! We encourage you to post and share with us on Instagram @earthecho and on Facebook at EarthEcho International with the hashtags #plasticseas #ourecho #beautifulandreusable #RYPplastic

    We are excited to have you join us on this journey in sustainability and together we can create a positive difference across the world!

    Download Lesson Plan
See all Day 3 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 4 The Issue

    All of the plastic that we as humans have ever made is still somewhere on the planet. So what solutions exist to help not only remove plastic from places where it is causing damage, but also repurpose the ubiquitous material? Philippe Cousteau hears from experts--including Donna Shiel from Sustainability Victoria, Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue, Anthony Hill from Plastic Pollution Solutions, and staff from the Melbourne Zoo--about available options for replacing plastic and how YOU can help solve the global issues of PlasticSeas.

  • Youth In Action - Lucy and BeHappy Bags
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    Youth In Action - Lucy and BeHappy Bags

    Meet Lucy, a 16-year-old, who founded and runs her own business that leverages local art and sustainability all on a tote bag.  Join Phillippe as Lucy shares more about her passion for the environment, youth empowerment and how she built up her unique business.

  • PlasticSeas: ReThink Your Plastic
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    PlasticSeas: ReThink Your Plastic

    Students will follow the engineering design process to explore solutions to the overwhelming plastic packaging problem. They will develop sustainable designs that will consider alternatives to plastic packaging in items like juice boxes, plastic straws, bin liners, and single-use take-away/take-out containers.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • STEM Career Closeup - Heidi Taylor
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    STEM Career Closeup - Heidi Taylor

    Heidi has always been an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, so when she was working as a scuba instructor and started finding rubbish everywhere, her only option was to act. In 2004 Heidi co-founded the Tangaroa Blue Foundation as a way of addressing the ever-increasing threat of marine debris in our oceans. Heidi introduced the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, which is a network of communities, schools, industries, government agencies and individuals focused on reducing the amount of marine debris washing into our oceans.
     

  • Group at Sustainability Victoria
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    Group at Sustainability Victoria

  • Fellows working on lessons
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    Fellows working on lessons

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    COMING SOON! Play with rePurpose is a series of activities that will ultimately prepare your students to design and build playground installations made from repurposed plastic materials. We have provided pre-design challenges so your students have the knowledge and step by step guidance they need to design the repurposed playground, including the design, creation, and testing of one piece of equipment made from PET bottles. This guide provides students with an opportunity for an integrated STEM approach to teaching and learning.

  • Philippe Cousteau with Fellows at Melbourne Zoo
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    Philippe Cousteau with Fellows at Melbourne Zoo

  • Rethinking Waste
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    Rethinking Waste

    You’re familiar with the three “R”s: reduce, reuse, recycle. When it comes to items we toss, it’s time to add another solution: rethink. Kids, teens, and adults around the world are coming up with innovative ideas and approaches to the age old problem of waste. In this guide, you will meet some “rethinkers and explore ways you can help trash stay gone, permanently. You might even cut down on how much stuff you use in the first place.

    Download Action Guide
See all Day 4 Photos on Flickr