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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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If you are teaching about recycling and other forms of waste management, check out the PBS Website, which has numerous ideas for educators and parents teaching kids about waste management.

Here are some ideas you will find there:

Zoom has instructions for making your own recycled paper using simple materials. There’s nothing like a good science project to help kids really understand that an old product can be made into a new one!

For younger learners, you can start with a litter campaign. Before kids can understand trash and recycling, litter is a starting point for thinking about the idea that used items have to be gotten rid of.

Eeko World’s Garbage and Recycling page takes students through an animated waste tour. The video is long, but kid-friendly, comprehensive, and detailed. There’s a great accompanying lesson plan to sort trash from recyclables including math extensions.

For these ideas and more, check out the PBS Teachers page on recycling!

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