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Posts Tagged ‘waste’

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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We have featured books about recycling, composting, and garbage in the past. Today’s book is about another form of waste management – reuse!

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong is the story of Steve the electrician and the kids who live in his building. Steve goes dumpster diving on a regular basis – he climbs into dumpsters and explores them to find salvageable items. Then, he and the kids fix these unwanted items up in creative ways.

One day, Steve gets hurt while dumpster diving and the kids come up with an idea – they go to every apartment in the building and ask for unwanted items BEFORE they end up in the dumpster.

This book does not glorify dumpster diving. Rather, it is designed to get kids thinking – is the thing I am throwing away really trash? Can it be fixed? Can it be turned into something new?

After reading The Dumpster Diver with students, have that conversation – what can I do with my waste rather than putting it in the trash?

At the end of the conversation, you might want to organize a swap exchange in your clas, where each kid brings in an unwanted book or toy and trades it with a classmate. You could work with the Parent Coordinator to organize a school-wide swap or participate in a Stop N’Swap.

The goal here is to get kids and adults thinking about ways to use their waste to prevent it from becoming trash… after all, one kid’s trash is another kid’s treasure!

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A while ago, we mentioned the amazing resources out there from the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). In addition to resources on teaching about types of energy and its sources, they also have resources for teaching about trash.

One page from the flip book; the following page explains paper that cannot be recycled

The Trash FlipBook is a resource designed for K-4 teachers that comprehensively explains waste and ways to reduce it. It starts with what trash it and where it goes (apparently, in the United States, 54% of waste is buried, 13% is burned, and 33% is recycled). Then, the book covers options for waste other than burying and burning (reduce, reuse, repair, compost, and recycle). The guide ends with some more advanced technical information for older students about plastics and landfill design.

A more advanced page for the interested class and teacher

Each page has an image on the front for students to view and ideas and talking points on the back for teacher use.

The Trash FlipBook is designed to be taught mostly through pictures. If you have older students (grades 3+) and would like your students to learn the same material through reading, check out Talking Trash, the upper elementary guide.

Finally, many of the NEED guides are now available in Spanish, if you have a bilingual class. The NEED materials are fantastic and free – check them out if you’re planning to teach about trash or energy!

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If you are teaching your K-5 class in New York City about waste management, trash, recycling, or any related topic, you have to check out the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Teachers’ RRResource Kit: RRR You Ready?. The guide contains materials for teaching about reducing, reusing, and recycling and the content is always specific to New York City. The guide contains:

  • Lesson plans and activity sheets for grades K-5 that comply with Department of Education standards.
  • Ideas for hands-on projects and long-term activities.
  • Extensive background information, including glossary sheets and additional resources.
  • VHS and DVD RRR videos on What Happens To Your Recyclables, offering a virtual tour of a recycling plant; and the story of the TrashMasters!,kids who learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle at their school.
  • Literacy component: kids can read about waste using coloring books and DSNY/Marvel comic books (drawn from the TrashMasters! kids).

You can download materials online or fill out a request form and have print copies of the RRResources shipped to your school.

These really are incredible resources which will help you teach waste management in your classroom or get your entire K-5 school ready for a school-wide recycling program. What will you do with DSNY’s RRResources?

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Sounds like fun, right?

If you’re interested in recycling field trips, students cannot currently visit any of the recycling centers in New York City. However, the new recycling facility at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, due to open in late 2012 or early 2013, will include an education center where students can see the recycling process. For updates on the project, check out the Department of Sanitation’s page A Material Recovery Facility Grows in Brooklyn.

In addition, the Department of Sanitation also has a website that explains in words and pictures the process of recycling. You can use this information until the center in Sunset Park opens.

Fresh Kills then...

A field trip to a landfill might sound even less appealing. Consider instead a visit to Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island on the site of the former Fresh Kills Landfill, which when was once the largest landfill in the world. The new park was created by covering the landfill. Education programs offered at Fresh Kills Park focus on both its past as a waste disposal facility and its current ecological and sustainable use.

... and now.

Check out the City of New York Parks & Recreation’s website for more information. If you’re interested in visiting, email FreshkillsPark@parks.nyc.gov or call 212-788-8277 to arrange a personalized educational experience.

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