Teacher Worksheet

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Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: Students are challenged to reduce the amount of rubbish their family sends to landfill. This is primarily a homework activity.

Teacher content information:

  • Reduce – buying and using things more carefully so that you produce less waste overall. For example, if you buy one large box of cereal instead of two small ones, that means you will have less cardboard packaging overall. Packing the right amount of food for your school lunch means that you will have less uneaten food to throw away after lunch.
  • Reuse – to use more than once for the same or a different purpose. For example, a girl might use a Ziploc bag for some biscuits for lunch and then wash the bag and use it over and over again to hold different sorts of snacks.
  • Recycle – the process of making something new from something that has been thrown away. The new product can be the same as the old one or something quite different. For example, a sheet of photocopy paper could be made into another sheet of photocopy paper (same) or it could be made into a cardboard box (different). With some materials (e.g. glass, metals and plastic), heat is used in the recycling process, bringing about a change of state from solid to liquid and back to solid again.
  • Composting - the process of breaking down green waste by using small organisms such as microbes and worms, and turning the waste into organic compost to use in the garden. By turning food scraps and organic garden waste into compost you can improve soil quality by releasing the rich nutrients in the compost into the soil of your garden, prevent greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the aerobic breakdown of organic material, and reduce the amount of green waste going to landfill.

Student and classroom organisation:

Step 1. Let students know that they are being challenged to reduce the amount of waste that they and their families produce. 

Step 2. The first stage of this challenge is to research tips for minimising waste – the 3Rs+ C – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Composting. Ask students to begin by researching the the environmental and social benefits of recycling, home composting and cutting the amount of rubbish sent to landfill. With the results of their research students should write a short persuasive piece titled: '7 ways we all benefit by reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill.' This can be used as a source of information to share with their families if anyone at home needs some convincing.

Step 3. Once complete, give each student a copy of the student worksheet to take home and work from. And of course, set a time limit and a finishing date for the challenge.

Step 4. After the students have completed their challenges, ask them to prepare a report that details the following (this information is also available on the student worksheet):

  • The tables and graphs of the volumes in each bin.
  • Their family’s action plan.
  • How much their family was able to cut the amount of rubbish in the rubbish bin (e.g. halved - from full to half full).
  • What they plan to do in the future.
  • What they learned from the project.

Assessment/Reflection

1. Ask students to prepare a brief presentation based on their reports. This presentation should include their experiences with the family waste challenge, including what ideas worked best and what didn’t work as well.
2. When all students have had a chance to share their experiences, discuss ideas about how they might keep the challenge going in the future in their homes.