The Effects of Trash and Garbage On the Environment

Bernadette M. Gilbert Charles Kozminski Community Academy
936 E. 54th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60615
(312) 535-0980


To recognize the importance of solid waste management.
To be able to identify the four "R's"; reuse, reduce, recycle and recover.
To understand what a landfill is.
To analyze individual solid waste management habits.
To understand what is biodegradable and what is non-biodegradable.
To understand why composting is a landfill alternative.
To understand some of the associated pollution problems.
To understand how incineration reduces waste and produces emission.
To view the video tape "The Rotten Truth" provided by the Illinois Department
of Energy and Natural Resource in order to enhance individual knowledge of
solid waste disposal and the recycling process.
To view the video tape "The Resource Revolution" to learn more about the
recycling of plastics.
To learn songs: "You're Really Making Me Sick" and "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"

Materials needed:

Two 2 liter plastic pop bottles, netting or mesh fabric, rubber band,
classroom storage containers (will be decorated by students), plastic bags,
soil (dirt), vegetable or fruit scraps, grass, newspaper, plastic and other
garbage which will decompose in a landfill, video tape, "The Rotten Truth",
provided by the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resource, video
tape worksheets, video tape, "The Resource Revolution", guessing game
activity sheets, aluminum cans, glass bottles, paper napkins, fruit peel and
other "Clean" trash items as needed (avoid materials of organic origin),
cassette player or tape recorder, television and VCR.


Learn the vocabulary and the categories of waste that occur daily.
Questions--What is garbage? Where does it go?
Discuss landfills and problems that relate to the landfills.
Introduce the concepts of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover.
Set up a bulletin board divided into sections with the four "R's" categories
as headings. Have students begin tacking up items appropriate to each
heading and have them explain why the items belong in that category. Some
items may be appropriate to more than one category
Review video tape, "The Rotten Truth" and give a short quiz on information
from the video.
Make your own Compost Column. Observe and chart what happens over two to four
weeks. Discuss the conditions of the various kinds of waste. Discuss
biodegradability. Compare the compost to real landfills. From your
observations, discuss the potential environmental problems associated with
waste in landfills (leachate, contamination of water, smell, methane gas,
garbage truck traffic, litter, scavenging birds, loss of natural resources
and energy.)
Students will play a game of twenty questions. Without letting the class see
what you are doing, put one of the trash objects in a brown paper bag.
Show the contents to one student then set the bag aside. The class will
then begin asking questions to determine what is in the bag. Some
suggested questions are: Do I come from the earth? Am I made from a
renewable resource? A nonrenewable resource? Am I made by a person? Am I
biodegradable? Am I packaging? Am I a container? Do I contain food? Am
I recyclable? Am I compostable?
Separate, prepare and label different types of recyclable trash.
Learn songs: "You're Really Making Me Sick" and "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".


Students should be able to tell the difference between natural and human made
materials, packaging and non-packaging items, animals, plants and minerals,
renewable and nonrenewable resources and be able to identify compostable and
recyclable materials.


As educators and consumers, we are entrusted with the job of teaching
children how to make intelligent decisions about solid waste. These
decisions can begin in the schools and continue in the homes and stores. The
solid waste dilemma will not go away. Changing our way of disposing of trash
and garbage will help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills.
Solving the solid waste disposal problem will take a major overhaul in our
lifestyle. As consumers and educators, we can accept this challenge and help
educate our citizens for change.


Solid Waste Activity Packet (for teachers) distributed by: Illinois
Department of Energy and Natural Resource in cooperation with the
Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Illinois, Champaign,
Illinois. Summer, 1991

Cassette Songs: "You're Really Making Me Sick" and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"
The lyrics are by Dianna Dee Damkoehler and music and singing by Hans
Damkoehler. Phone number for requesting an activity packet, video tape and
cassette tape is (217)785-0310 - No charge for rental.
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