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Archive for the ‘Waste Management’ Category

Last week, we introduced you to our “It’s Easy Being Green” program with the Farm to Table card game. Students also play another exciting green game in this program, a recycling relay race. New York City produces 14 million tons of waste and recyclables every year and nearly half of that gets recycled. We can do better!  PlaNYC’s goal is for us to divert 75% of our trash from landfills by 2030.

Every household, business, and school in the city is required to recycle by law. The city usually picks up recycling once a week from your curb. You can look up your pick-up day here. Now, it’s just time to sort…an activity that isn’t always as intuitive as you’d think.

For our recycling challenge, we split kids into two teams and give each team three bins: Paper & Cardboard/ Glass, Metal & Plastic/Trash.  Each group gets a bag full of mixed (clean) trash and recyclables. Each child in the group studies the NYC handy dandy recycling fridge magnet and then sorts one waste item into a bin. To make this activity more exciting, each student must wait until the previous student places their item and returns to their seat before they can place their own item in the proper bin. The two teams race to the finish, but of course, it’s a race of accuracy rather than speed. We then go through each bin item by item. If an opposing team thinks an item has been placed incorrectly, they can hold up a hand and say “I Object!”. We talk through the  discrepancy and make sure the item makes it to the proper bin.

Are you recycling savvy? Take our little quiz to find out!

Q 1: Where would you put a yogurt container? 

Yogurt containers can’t be recycled- only 1 & 2 plastic bottles and jugs can be recycled. What if it has a 1 or 2 on it but isn’t a bottle or jug? Nope, won’t work. The plastic in 1 & 2 take-out containers, soup containers, or cups  can’t be melted down with 1 & 2 bottles & jugs. Tricky stuff! Read more on plastics here.

Q2: Does it matter if your recyclables are gunky? 

Yes! Rinse your items before you throw them in the bin. If your recyclables are too gunky, the may be considered “contaminated” and not recycled.

Q3: Do you have to put your recyclables in a clear bag, won’t a black bag do?

When you place your recyclables on the curb, they need to be in a clear plastic bag OR tossed in a bin labeled with an NYC Recycling sticker (but no black bags) . Fill out this form to request recycling decals for your bins.

Q4: Can lids be recycled? 

Recycle metal lids, but toss the plastic ones.

If you ever have a question about any item, NYC WasteLess has an awesome search bar. Enter any item, and it’ll tell you how to dispose of it properly.

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Last month, we got kids thinking about where their trash ends up with Trash Talk and Loop Scoops. But let’s start at the beginning. Where does our food come from? How many places does the slice of cheese on our burger see before it ends up on our plate?

At Brooklyn Children’s Museum, we teach a program for school groups called, “It’s Easy Being Green.” We cover topics like proper recycling, energy efficiency, and sustainable food choices. The food activity splits kids into groups; each group is responsible for piecing together the life cycle of one ingredient on a burger. They’re given cards that each represent one phase in, for instance, the journey of a slice of cheese. Take a look:

The journey starts here at “Sunset Farm”. But why are we starting on a corn field if we’re trying to get to a slice of cheese? 

To feed the cows! Unfortunately, most cows in the US are fed corn rather than the tasty grass that their stomachs were built to digest. The cow’s milk then has to be transported to the cheese factory. That’s two big truck rides so far for one slice of cheese!

The cheese then gets stored in a large warehouse with other grocery goods. 

A truck picks up the cheese from the warehouse and takes it to the grocery store where it’s stocked on shelves and finally awaits your purchase.

Your cheeseburger can now be assembled and enjoyed! And now what? What about the packaging your cheese slice came wrapped up in? What about all your other food scraps? Where do they end up? 

Most of the time, they end up in a landfill.

Now, here’s the challenge: After students have pieced together the journey of their cheese (there are twenty cards or steps for the cheese alone!) they have to figure out how to remove pieces of the production-distribution-consumption-waste system to make the whole thing more sustainable. How can we get this slice of cheese to travel less? This activity can lead to great discussions on Farmer’s Markets, local food, and composting.

Want to try this activity with your class? Email GoGreen[at]Brooklynkids.org for a PDF version of the full set of Hamburger life cycle cards!

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We’ve covered trash in the past and most kids know the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” well, but do they really understand why it’s so important to reduce our waste? When you talk through the path trash takes from lunch to landfill, kids can easily see the problem, but it’s often something they’ve never thought about until you get those wheels turning! These awesome videos called LOOP SCOOPS from PBS Kids and the Story of Stuff Project could be really useful helpers in the discussion.

 

Let’s start with this question. Where does your trash from lunch go? Hopefully those candy bar wrappers and juice boxes end up in a trash can. And then what happens to it? The garbage truck takes it away. Where? Here’s where you may encounter some blank stares…but some might say dump or landfill. Now really, what is a landfill? It’s a big hole on the ground all sealed up to keep the toxic nasty things in our trash from getting into our soil and water (sometimes they leak!). So here’s the big riddle: What’s the problem with landfills if we can’t reuse or recycle everything we buy and use in our daily lives? They fill up of course!

Did you know we’ve filled up all our landfills in New York City? We have NO LANDFILLS and NO INCINERATORS. Since 2001, we’ve been exporting all of our trash to other states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

After your class eats lunch,  get them to sort their waste. Does it all need to go in the trash? What can be composted, recycled or reused? Is there anything we could do to avoid the trash that’s left over?

In Loop Scoops, Brad avoids contributing to the 4 Billion Juice boxes that end up landfills by drinking his juice from a reusable bottle, Oliver and Gabby learn about the metals in their DS game device and decide to hold off on buying the newest edition, and Ben goes for fresh squeezed vs prepackaged orange juice.

Check out these other great resources for teaching waste management:

NYC RRResource Guide

Trash FlipBook

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Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is part of sustainable Brooklyn!

Methane is a gas found in rotting food and farts! It sounds (and smells) gross, but methane can also be used for fuel to create energy. This treatment plant collects methane and turns it into fuel. It is also the only wastewater treatment plant in the city open to the public. Learn more at the Visitor Center or check out the nature walk on site.

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is located at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Humboldt Street. Take the G toGreenpoint Avenue.

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is an example of Watch Waste.

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What happens to a can or bottle after you recycle it? The recycling exhibit here at the Museum aims to answer that question.

The right half of the exhibit shows recycling stories. Spin the blocks to complete the stories – turning a recycled can into a bike, a recycled pair of jeans into insulation, and a recycled tire into playground surface.

When the steps are in the right order, the original image lights up to show that it has been recycled. In the picture on the right, this boy and his father have finished the middle story and the jeans are lit up!

The left half of the exhibit talks about recycling at the Museum. Did you know that the boardwalk in the beach in Neighborhood Nature isn’t made of wood? It’s actually recycled plastic bottles! Touch the boardwalk the next time you’re here and you might just be able to feel it! Come to the recycling exhibit to learn other unusual recycling stories.

You can find the recycling exhibit in World Brooklyn, across from the International Grocery Store.

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Are you looking for ways to re-invigorate your teaching? There are lots of great options for professional development this winter! Check out these workshops that will help you add a sustainable focus to your classroom:

Environmental Explorations NYC at Van Cortlandt Park

This program uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.

The program is from February 20 to February 25, 2012. To register, visit the After School Professional Development’s website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/aspdp and view their spring course catalog. With questions, contact Sara Kempton, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, 718-601-1553 or sara@vancortlandt.org.

Creative Infusion: The Art of Reuse at Materials for the Arts

Materials for the Arts is an amazing warehouse of art supplies in Queens. This course, which offers P-credits, gives you access to the warehouse and teaches you how to problem solve through reuse and how to create games, books, costumes and sets, puppets, and mosaics. The course incorporates literacy and math into activities. The program takes place over 6 Saturdays. For details and information about registration and fees, check out their website.

Other opportunities:

Do you know of any other great professional development for teachers in New York City?

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If you have been teaching about waste management and would like a fun game to help kids understand, check out Landfill Bill!

Landfill Bill is a very simple game where waste materials come down the conveyor belt and Bill has to throw them to the correct bin: glass, plastic, paper, or metal. It is a surprisingly addictive yet very simple game. After students play it, here are some talking points:

  • Were any of the items coming down the conveyor belt trash? (no)
  • Were you surprised by any of the items that Bill recycled? Do you usually put those items in the trash? What could you do with them next time?
  • What happens if Bill didn’t recycle fast enough? (the items ended up in the landfill)
  • What happens when the landfill gets too full? (the game ends; there is no more space for any kind of waste)

While the game does not make this explicit, the whole point of recycling is to find a better use for waste than the landfill. Proper recycling keeps items out of the landfill, extending their life, and reducing the need for new landfills. Playing Landfill Bill is an engaging way to introduce that idea to your students!

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