Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students identify how they deal with their waste and make comparisons with the ways that older generations dealt with waste when they were young.

NRW Logo 2012-10-00 LgeThis lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.

Learning goals for this activity include:

  • Students build an understanding of how different generations managed their waste. 
  • Students identify and compare the properties of packaging materials and start linking the properties of materials with their use. 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptors:

Science Year 2

  • Earth’s resources, including water, are used in a variety of ways (ACSSU032)
  • People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035)

History Year 2

  • How changing technology affected people’s lives (at home and in the ways they worked, travelled, communicated and played in the past) (ACHASSK046)
  • Pose questions about past and present objects, people, places and events (ACHASSI034)

English Year 2

  • Understand that language varies when people take on different roles in social and classroom interactions and how the use of key interpersonal language resources varies depending on context (ACELA1461)

Syllabus Outcomes: ST1-9ES, EN1-1AHT1-3, HT1-4

Topic: National Recycling Week

Time required: 48 mins plus time for reporting back on interviews and for discussion

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Role play an interview with an older person and discuss what helps to make a good interview. Keep an eye on students as they practice the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in their classroom.

Resources required: Classroom containers for rubbish, recycling and a paper reuse box, writing and drawing materials, compost bucket optional depending on if the school has a composting system. A range of clean waste packaging materials with at least some with recycling symbols (e.g. aluminium can, plastic bottle, steel can, paper, glass jar, fruit box, apple core). Make sure steel cans don’t have sharp edges.

Digital technology opportunities: Respond to videos, speak with grandparents using a phone or other technology. 

Homework and extension opportunities: Find out how grandparents or other older people disposed of waste when they were children.

Keywords: Rubbish, reuse, recycle, waste, compost, aluminium, steel, glass, plastic, code, disposal, incinerator.  


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

These Planet Ark resources were developed by Cool Australia with funding from the Alcoa Foundation.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goals: In this activity students identify how they deal with their waste and make comparisons with the ways that older generations dealt with waste when they were young.

Teacher content information: Waste must be managed to maintain a clean and healthy environment. The materials that go into producing waste require resources to manufacture or grow them. There are many things we can do as consumers of resources to reduce the amount we use. When it comes to waste we often refer to this as the 3Rs plus C (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - the C stands for Compost).

Two generations ago waste disposal was very different:

  • There was less packaging and there was very little plastic in the packaging.
  • People has less money to buy things.
  • Plastic shopping bags were not used.
  • Many bottles such as milk and other beverage bottles were made from glass and were returned cleaned and reused.
  • Recycling mostly consisted of people collecting bottles and selling t
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Student Worksheet

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