Goal: Research options for reducing school waste going into landfill
Objectives: Students will…
Materials: access to phone, computers with internet access, local and/or school waste sorting guidelines
Advance Preparation: identify resources relevant to your community regarding waste sorting and hauling.
Time Estimate: 2 classes (may not be sequential depending on how long you give for research and presentation prep)
Day 1: 2 min introduction, recap audit data
20 min brainstorm
5 min assign research tasks and explain process for sharing results
15 min start research in class; develop a plan for completing and sharing results
Day 2: 20 min finish sharing prep
25 min share findings
Now that you know exactly how much waste your school generates each day, it is time to figure out what you can do to reduce the amount of waste your school is sending to its ultimate destiny: the landfill. Waste that gets diverted from the landfill has more useful life in it: it can be reused by someone in its existing form, it can be recycled by simplifying it into its raw material and making something new, or it can be composted by breaking it down into its core elements and returning those to the soil.
Recap the numbers calculated in your waste audit and ask your students to brainstorm what the school could do to decrease what ends up in the trash dumpster. Once they have the basic strategies, ask them to think through what they would need to learn more about in order to implement a plan to get that action item accomplished. Below is a list that represents some ideas for this brainstorm (bullets are questions they may need to research). If your students are missing any of the major components, you may want to volunteer them for consideration.
Use less disposable stuff
Find better uses for things than throwing them away
Compost organic waste
For each of the questions the class identifies as needing more research, assign a pair of students (or whatever number works for the number of questions you have) to research that question. Depending on the question, they may need to interview school or district employees, call the municipal waste hauler or conduct internet research. Give them what you feel is an appropriate amount of time to complete the research and prepare a means of sharing their findings with the class (powerpoint, poster, verbal, video, etc.). The sharing of research should lead into the next lesson, which focuses on developing a specific action plan.