Adaptable activities for K-12 learners
Waste Reduction Activities and Resources
CSWD Lesson Plan — Recycling Relay
Recycling and Composting Relay Activity: 20 Minute Version
Lunch Waste Journaling
Waste Reduction Word Search
Less Is More: Back to School Checklist
Where is Away? Discussion Guide
Packaging Discussion Guide
Test Your School Waste Questionnaire
Sorting Posters: A Guide to Making Your Own
Hosting a Trash on Lawn Day (TOLD)
Composting in a Worm Bin
Worm bins are an excellent way to create a small-scale model of the rot cycle. CSWD has a limited supply of worm bins, worms and additional materials to help teachers incorporate compost into their curriculum. Please call the School Outreach Coordinator at 802-872-8100 x211 to inquire about availability.
Compost in the School Yard or Garden
Visual Aids for Teaching Waste Reduction
The Rot Cycle
Waste Stations: Trash, Recycling, Compost
FBIs The Decomposing Agents
Ten-Year-Old Carrots (with explanation)
Ten-Year-Old Carrots (picture only)
Where Your Garbage Goes Flow Chart
Cafeteria Waste Station Posters
Recommended Curriculum Resources
Recommended standards-based, hands-on lessons and activities by grade designed to bring resource recovery to life and engage students in systems thinking.
Quest For Less, EPA, 2005
This Guide is available as an entire document or in sections in PDF format or on CD-ROM. It’s designed to encourage students to be critical thinkers and draw connections between the use of natural resources, the use of products, and the cause and effect relationship tied to their choices to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Trash Goes To School, Cornell Waste Management Institute, 1991
Lessons are available in PDF format and give well-rounded examples of how to effectively integrate waste issues into many different subject areas
Do the Rot Thing
Creative exploratory soil activities designed for teachers interested in on-site compost and worm bins.
Pathways to a Sustainable Future, Maine Waste Management Association, 1994
This guide focuses on experiential education and problem solving. It includes helpful flow charts that provide a nice visual for understanding local waste management strategies.
Buy, Use, Toss? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy, Facing the Future, 2010
This series of ten fully planned interdisciplinary lessons will lead your students through a two-week exploration of the system of producing and consuming goods that is called the materials economy. A great match with “The Story of Stuff” video.
Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste, Project Learning Tree, 2002
An outstanding resource for secondary educators, this comprehensive student activity guide provides many enrichment suggestions, students’ pages, assessment tools, and a complete Spanish translation.
Film and Music
There are many videos and songs related to the importance of waste reduction. Here are some teacher favorites:
Dirt Made My Lunch – 3 minutes
This is a classic, catchy sing-a-long connecting compost and food/farming.
Jack Johnson: 3Rs – 3 minutes
Three is the magic number! Purchase the 3Rs song off the “Curious George” soundtrack, or download this free version from students of Sunset Beach Elementary School, HI.
Video: The Journey of Your Foodscraps (6 min version-a longer DVD version is available by request)
GOOD Transparency Food: Waste Not Want Not- 1.5 minutes
Whole Foods Market presents a clever animated presentation of statics about why it’s important not to waste food.
The Story of Stuff-20 minutes
A fast-paced introduction to consumerism and product life cycles. If shown in the classroom, teachers are advised to preview due to political content. You can also find “The Story of Bottled Water” and “The Story of Electronics” on-line.
Dirt the Movie- 80 minutes
Narrated by Jaime Lee Curtis, this lively and informative film puts a worldly spin on the importance of healthy soils (and compost). Contact the CSWD Community Outreach Coordinator at 802-872-8100 x234 to schedule a showing.
Some Ways Adults can Take Action
- School food service managers can minimize waste and maximize cost savings all at once! The Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. created a guide to empower members of the school community to make positive policy changes and develop program strategies for waste reduction in cafeterias. For more information, see the NERC Food Service Waste Reduction In Schools guide.
- Eco-Schools USA and the National Wildlife Federation strive to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and culture of a school. Eco-Schools USA works to extend learning beyond the classroom and develop responsible environmental attitudes and commitments, over a wide range of sustainability issues. Schools that are certified in the program undergo a thorough application process and succeed in organizing and implementing a comprehensive assessment of their school. To get started today, register your school at the Eco-Schools USA website.
- Get Recycling Bins and signage for your school’s classrooms and offices and place them near each trash can.
- CSWD School Sustainability Assessment This tool looks at the sustainable practices and initiatives being undertaken by different school divisions including the classroom, the cafeteria, the administrative office, and the custodial department.
- Use the Composting at School Guide to set up a composting system.
- Get Cafeteria Waste Station Posters and set up a sorting system.