Classic Trash

Carol Colby Oak Lawn Community High School
95th and Southwest Highway
Oak Lawn IL 60453


1. Freshmen students will learn how to classify trash into the categories:
organic, renewable/recyclable, nonrenewable/recyclable, and nonrenewable/hard to recycle.

2. Students will learn what options exist for dealing with trash: recycling,
reusing, incenerating, use of landfill, and composting.

3. Students will learn how long trash will last in a landfill.

4. Students will consider problems associated with landfills and learn about
possible design solutions to these problems. Problems include smell, methane gas, contamination of groundwater, scavenging birds, loss of natural resources, and increased traffic from trash trucks.

5. Students will learn what the basic components of a landfill are.

6. Students will be able to perform an assessment activity to demonstrate
mastery of material.


Classification Activity:-one shoe box with one of each of the following items
for each group of 4-5 students:
-1 glass jar -1 plastic bag -1 2-L pop bottle
-1 brown paper bag -1 lettuce leaf -1 styrofoam cup
-1 aluminum can

Edible Landfill Activity: (recipe is for 1 group of 4-5 students)
-1 choc. graham pie crust -2 pieces of red licorice
-3-7 graham crackers -2 snack packs of choc. pudding
-2 snack pack vanilla pudding -1/2 cup of each: nuts, choc.
chips, and coconut.


1. Ask class what these items all have in common: (show items in one of the
-lettuce leaf -plastic bag -aluminum can -1 glass jar
-1 2L pop bottle -1 styrofoam cup -1 brown bag

"They are all waste products." Each person generates 5 lbs per day. Over a
year that accumulates to 2000 lbs or 1 ton of garbage per year per person.

2. In teams of 4-5, classify each item that is in your shoebox. Decide what
criteria you will use to classify each item. (Suggest that groups consider
properties, uses and the disposal of items)

3. After teams have come to a consensus, have a student write the criteria on
the board.

4. After this listing is complete, show commonly used categories and allow class
to help formulate definitions and examples of each. (organic,
renewable/recyclable, nonrenewable/recyclable, nonrenewable/hard to recycle.)

5. Ask class what happens to garbage when it leaves the curb.

6. Once garbage is in the landfill, how long will it last? Ask students to
guess how long each item will last:
paper 2-4 weeks
glass jar unknown length of time
banana peel 4-5 weeks
green bean can 100 years

7. Ask students to brainstorm with their teams what problems are associated with

8. Ask students how these problems can be avoided in designing a landfill

9. Show an overhead, poster, or model of a cross section of a landfill.
Include these components:
-clay liner
-drainage pipes
-sand and gravel filters
-alternating layers of dirt and garbage
-thick layer of dirt over top covered with grass

10. Explain the function of each component
-the clay liner is used to prevent liquids from seeping into the
groundwater supply. This is known as leaching
-the drainage pipes carry the liquids away from the bottom of the
-the sand and gravel layers act as filters. The sand and gravel hold
the solid particles and allow the liquid to drain through
-after garbage is put into the landfill, dirt is placed over that
garbage. The dirt contains microbes which can decompose the organic
garbage. After this layer of dirt is placed in the landfill, another
layer of garbage is placed over the dirt, then soil, garbage, soil,
etc. The alternating layers also prevent scavenging animals from
picking at the garbage. The layers also help control odors.
-the thick layer of dirt over the top of the landfill helps to make
the land usable again.

11. Note that trash disposal is a problem for people of all cultures and must be
dealt with in a responsible manner for the benefit of all people now and in the

Performance Assessment:

The assessment assignment is to create an edible model of a landfill with team
members using the following materials:
-1 choc. graham pie crust
-2 pieces of red licorice
-3-7 graham crackers
-2 packs of choc. pudding
-2 packs of vanilla pudding
-1/2 cup of each: nuts, choc. chips, green coconut
Groups should use the materials to best represent the components of a landfill.
Each individual team member is responsible for a written explanation of his/her
team's model. Explanations should include what the components represent, why
each component was chosen, and why the components are necessary in the proper
functioning of a landfill. Diagrams may be helpful.

Trash Rubric:
6 Exemplary Response Gives a clear, coherent and elegant explanation. Includes: -Explanation with all components described in unit -Model accurately displays all components of landfill -The diagram accurately depicts the components -The function of each component is explained 5 Correct Response The response is correct and the explanation is clear. It includes all of the responses for a rating of six, but to a lesser degree. The explanation may not include a diagram. 4 Satisfactory Response This response is generally correct and does explain the function of a landfill correctly. Some of the components may have been left out our not fully explained. The diagram may be inappropriate or unclear or not included at all. 3 Nearly Satisfactory The response may begin appropriately, but significant parts of the model may have been omitted or not explained accurately. The response may be hard to follow. 2 Inadequate Response-Begins to answer question The explanation is not understandable; the diagram may be unclear; major components of the landfill are left out. 1 Inadequate Response-Unable to begin effectively The words do not reflect the problem; drawings misrepresent the components of a landfill; parts of the landfill may be included, but they are not explained. 0 Not Attempted.....Rating=0 References:
Solid Waste Activity Packet, Illinois Department of Energy and Natural
Resources, University of Illinois Champaign, Illinois, p.57-66, 1990.

All Trashed Out, Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Office of
Recycling and Waste Reduction, p. 39-46, 1992.

Return to Chemistry Index