Plastics can be made in almost any shape for almost any purpose. They don’t biodegrade, they just break into smaller and smaller pieces. And this is a problem. Plastics smaller than 5mm are called microplastics. They’re pieces of a plastic item that has broken apart, microbeads found in face washes, pre-production plastic beads called “nurdles,” and microfibers. Microfibers are tiny strands of plastic that are woven together to create synthetic fabrics. They’ve been around for decades, but we’ve only recently realized their negative impacts. In this Lowdown lesson, students will analyze the history of plastics, their effects on the environment and regulatory efforts to address those effects.