Activity Introduction

Quick summary: 
This activity encourages students to consider the changes that have taken place over time in the way we dispose of items we no longer use or need. Students are also asked to imagine what life might be like in the year 2050 and to think of ways we may be able to re-use resources in innovative ways in the future.

GST_Logo_CMYK_High Res (1) copy


Following this lesson plan is an ideal way for your school to take part in the Garage Sale Trail. You’ll be joining thousands of amazing teachers in making a difference and creating positive environmental change. Don’t forget to register! 


Learning goals:

  • Students learn that Australian Aboriginals lived very lightly on the land, using natural materials for their tools, clothing, shelters and weapons.
  • Students discover that since European settlement, people in Australia have used increasing amounts of resources to support their lifestyle and have been producing increasing quantities of solid waste.
  • Students will understand that the way that Australians dispose of their waste has changed dramatically over the past 60 years.


Duration of activity: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – gather materials, copy worksheets for students.

Resources required: scissors, pencils, pens, glue  

Homework and extension opportunities: This activity includes opportunities for extension and homework.

Keywords:  Garage Sale Trail, consumption, waste, recycling, economics, community engagement, life cycle analysis, history, future, Indigenous Australians.


Australian Curriculum Content Descriptions:

Year 3 Science

  • Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and relationships (ACSHE050)

Year 3 History

  • Sequence information about people’s lives and events (ACHASSI055)
  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI052)

Year 4 Science

  • Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and relationships (ACSHE061)

Year 4 History

  • Sequence information about people’s lives and events (ACHASSI076)
  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI073)

Year 4 Geography

  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)

Australian Curriculum General Capabilities:  Critical and creative thinkingPersonal and social capabilityEthical understanding

Syllabus Outcomes: GE2-2, GE2-3, ST2-4WS, HT2-5.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.



Teacher Worksheet

GST3Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students are given a worksheet showing three eras from the past and one from the future showing the changes in the ways that people have used materials and disposed of their waste over the past 400 years. They are asked to colour in the drawings and complete the drawing for the future scene and predict the types of waste disposal that will be available in the future.


Teacher background information about the Garage Sale Trail:

The Garage Sale Trail  is a national day of simultaneous garage sales that’s about making sustainability fun and creative! By organising communities around Australia to hold garage sales on the same day, the event aims to enable new neighbourly connections, provide a platform for fundraising, inspire creativity, stimulate local economies, promote the reuse of materials and keep stuff out of landfill.  

The  Garage Sale Trail  is a not-for-profit organisation that works with local and state governments, school

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Student Worksheet

Where has waste been and where is it going? 

The amount of waste that humans have produced has changed a lot over the past 400 years, particularly in Australia. Indigenous Australians used only natural materials for all their needs, while European settlers introduced artificial materials and manufacturing techniques that changed consumption patterns and associated waste.

In the past, what did Indigenous Australians use to hunt, keep warm, gather food, build shelters and make tools and weapons. Consider the following questions:

  • Where did they get these things?
  • If things broke or wore out, what did they do with them? 
  • What did they eat?
  • Where did these things come from? 
  • What do you think they would have done with bones, uneaten food and shells ? 

 Now think about the way we all live today. 

  • Where do we get all the things that we eat, live in, wear and use? 
  • If things break or wear out, what do we do with them? 
  • What do we eat? 
  • What do we do with our food waste? 

Doorways to waste worksheet

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