Message in a Plastic Bottle

Maths, Science, English, Geography and Leadership, Years 7-10

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A set of lesson activities for high schools with a focus on positive actions to reduce single use plastic waste. The guide is broken into units by subject and also provides ideas for cross curricular collaboration.

Learning objective

A cross-curriculum guide to reducing plastic waste.

Why study bottled water?

Bottled water is a product that students are familiar with and can relate to. Bottled water has been marketed to create a feeling of desire and need even though clean tap water is readily available in Australia. Many students consider bottled water as a healthy alternative to soft drink and some may also believe it’s a safer choice than drinking tap water.

This bottled water unit encourages students to question their understanding and assumptions of bottled water including cost, the waters’ source, how it is marketed, the plastic waste it creates and how that plastic waste is disposed of. We hope that by looking at the issue from multiple angles and in different learning areas the students will come to the same conclusion as we have; that bottled water is a wasteful product and that we should reduce our consumption of it. The topic of bottled water also provides a platform to discuss reducing our use of other types of single-use plastics like straws and plastic bags. The leadership section gives students an opportunity to take action by pledging to reduce single-use plastic waste.

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Suitable for

Description of activities


Years 7 - 10

Students watch The Story of Bottled Water and use this as inspiration to write a persuasive speech that encourages teachers and students to stop buying bottled water.


Years 7 - 10

Students compare bottled water and tap water by calculating:

• the distance water travels by tap and bottle

• the cost of tap water compared to bottled water

• the amount of plastic waste their school produces and how much it costs to dispose of it.


Year 7 - 8

Students carry out a scientific investigation on the properties of bottled and tap water including taste, odour, pH, fluoride, chlorine and pesticides.


Years 9 - 10

Students conduct an inquiry project and investigate the impacts of the production and consumption of bottled water. They study the supply chain and life of the product (including plastic recycling, disposal to landfill and litter that ends up in the ocean).


Years 7 - 12

The leadership activity provides instructions to help students to launch their own campaign to encourage their school community to stop buying bottled water (and other plastic products) for a day, a week or a month.


Year 7 - 12

Twenty snippet cards designed to inspire your students to choose a topic and develop their own project on bottled water. The links range from discussion points to investigations and are designed to complement the activities developed for English, maths, science and geography.


Year 7 - 12

The bottled water quiz features multiple choice questions. It is a useful tool to engage the whole school and could be done as a form activity, at year group meetings or at a school assembly.