A Teacher's Guide to Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling
      /f .;-•
      - c I *   i *

                     Activities and Resources for Teaching K-8
United States
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (5305W)
Washington, DC 20460

November 2010
   Recycled/Recyclable-Printed with Vegetable
   Oil Based Inks on 100% (Minimum 50%
   postconsumer) Recycled Paper.



A Teacher's Guide to Waste Reduction and Resource Conservation
  Activities and
  Resources for
  Teaching K-8

Special Thanks
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery would
like to thank all of the teachers and students who contributed their thoughts and  ideas to the devel-
opment of the first edition of this resource in 1 998 and 1 999. Foqus groups with teachers and
students were held in Kansas City, Kansas; Alexandria, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; and Chattanooga,

We would also like to extend thanks to a very special group of educators who served as a review panel
for this resource during its development from  May 1999 through July 2000:

        Linda M. Bates                Kristin L. Gonia-Larkin         Jeri Pollock
        Ernest T. Boyd                 Dr. Joe E. Heimlich           Peter Schmidt
        Amy Cabaniss                 William Hoffman              Lisa Siegman
        August O. Curley              John  Lagnese       .          Harold Siskind
        James L. Elder                Patricia McGranahan          Cheryl Stance
        Monica Ellis                   Sherry Middlemis-Brown       Sherry Weinberg
        Eric Ferguson                 Wanda Owens

In addition, EPA would also like to thank the following reviewers who helped in the development of
the 2005 version of this document:

Mary S. Allen                                  Andrea Eaton
Recycling and Education Director                Resource Efficiency Manager
Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County     Tetra Tech EM Inc.
Glenview, IL                                   San Diego, CA

Ana Carvalho                                  Len Ference
Recycling Specialist                             Principal
City of San  Diego Environmental Services         Mechanicsburg Middle School
Department                                    Mechanicsburg, PA
San Diego, CA

And finally,  EPA would like to acknowledge the very special contribution of William E. Gooding, Jr.,
an AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) intern with the Office of Resource
Conservation and Recovery from August 2004 to August 2005, to the Quest for Less revision. We
appreciated his hard work and dedication to the task!
    Disclaimer: Publication of this document by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does
    not constitute an endorsement of any specific consumer product.


                     to  ttji'e Solid Wa$te 'Resource for
     feach-erj* and  $tiident$ in  drade$  R-6  /
About This Resource
The Quesf for Less is designed for teachers in
grades K-8 to use as one of the many tools in the
development of lesson plans. Activities and con-
cepts in this resource can be incorporated into
existing curricula, or teachers can create special
week-long units on the environment and solid
waste  or use the activities to commemorate Earth

This guide provides hands-on lessons and activ-
ities, enrichment ideas, journal writing
assignments, and other educational tools relat-
ed to  preventing and reducing waste. Its
multidisciplinary focus includes math, science,
art, social studies, language arts, and health.
Lessons encourage students to utilize skills
ranging from reading and writing to problem-
solving and analytical thinking.

This resource introduces the idea of natural
resources as a source for many products that
become solid waste; explains the quantity and
type of waste products create; and reviews the
common methods of managing solid waste,
including recycling, composting, landfilling,
incinerating, and preventing waste in the first
place. It also includes some information about
hazardous waste.
Each chapter in The Quesf for Less includes one
or more fact sheets that provide background
information on a topic and an index showing
the grade ranges, subject areas, and skills used
for each activity.

Each activity, in turn,  provides a suggested
duration, materials needed, and other helpful
information for teachers. A glossary of terms
and a glossary of skills can be found at the end
of the resource.
Goals of This Resource

•  To stimulate young people to think critically
   about their own actions and the results of
   their actions and to assess their own
   resource conservation and waste preven-
   tion values.
•  To help young people understand the con-
   nections among the use of natural resources,
   use of products, waste disposal, and causes
   and effects of environmental impacts.
•  To help students understand the hierarchy of
   preferred waste management options and
   students' role in the different options (e.g.,
   reducing, reusing, and recycling are better
   than throwing things away).
•  To introduce and explain behaviors that con-
   serve resources, reduce environmental
   impacts, and enhance sustainability such as
.   source reduction, recycling, buying recycled,
   buying with less packaging, and composting.
•  To help protect children's health through
   increased awareness  and  behavioral
   changes related to the safe use, storage,
   and disposal of household products con-
   taining  hazardous constituents, such as
   cleaners,  pesticides, and batteries.
•  To help students understand the concept of
   personal responsibility toward the environ-
   ment and to inspire them to make a
   positive environmental impact in their
   home, school, and community.
•  To make solid waste education interesting,
   fun, and an integral part of environmental
The Quest tor Less


Why Should Kids Learn About
Solid Waste?
Despite the fact that individuals and communities
are recycling more than ever, each person in the
United States continues to generate about 4.5
pounds (EPA, 2003; 2001  data) of municipal
solid waste per day! This statistic emphasizes the
continuing need  to teach the next generation
about reducing waste and to energize schools
and communities to promote environmental
Because municipal solid waste issues are inti-
mately connected with resource and energy use,
global climate change, air pollution, water pollu-
tion, and other concerns, lessons and activities in
The Quest for Less can be incorporated into
other environmental or ecological concepts. For
example, kids can learn the connection between
recycling an aluminum can and saving energy.
They can also learn how their families'  purchas-
ing decisions impact what  manufacturers
produce and sell.

  What Is EPA's Office of Resource
  Conservation and Recovery?

  The mission of EPA's Office of Resource
  Conservation and Recovery is to protect
  human health  and the environment by
  ensuring responsible national management
  of hazardous and nonhazardous waste.
  Close interaction with states, industry, envi-
  ronmental groups, tribes, and the public
  enables EPA to promote safe and effective
  waste management. Because everyone con-
  tributes to the  problems  of solid waste,
  everyone shares responsibility for finding
  and implementing solutions.
  In that spirit of cooperation, EPA reaches out
  to educators with this resource, enabling
  them to instill fundamental environmental
  awareness and values in today's youth and
  tomorrow's leaders.

And they can learn How the consumption of
material goods contributes to air and water

In developing this resource,  EPA used the North
American Association for Environmental
Education's (NAAEE's) Guidelines for Excellence
in Environmental Education Materials as a guid-
ing principle. NAAEE's guidelines  address
educational standards for fairness and accuracy,
depth, skills building, action orientation,  instruc-
tional soundness, and usability. Information
about the organization can be obtained  by visit-
ing  or contacting NAAEE at
2000 P  Street, NW, Suite 540, Washington, DC
20036 or  (202) 419-0412 or

Facts presented throughout this resource derive
from a variety of governmental, educational, and
trade association sources. While all have been
evaluated by EPA, they have not been independ-
ently verified and might become out of date over
time or with changes in the solid waste industry
or individual/community behaviors. Some facts
are specifically attributed to Municipal Solid
Waste in the United States: 2008 Facts and
Figures,  (document number EPA530-F-09-021),
published November 2009.
This resource updates and replaces ORCR's
previous solid waste teacher's guide, Let's
Reduce  and Recycle: Curriculum for Solid Waste
Awareness, August 1990 (EPA530-SW-90-005).
Some activity ideas were based on existing solid
waste educational materials. These documents
can also serve as excellent sources of additional
activities for use in the classroom. EPA credits
the following publications as sources of infor-
mation and provides ordering information when

                              The Quest fop Less


A-Way With Waste,  Fourth Edition, Washington
State Department of Ecology, Air Quality
Program. Available online:
Phone 360 407-6826. No cost.

Closing the Loop: Integrated Waste
Management Activities For School and
Home, K-T2, The Institute for Environmental
Education and the California Integrated Waste
Management Board, 1 993. To order: Office of
Education and the Environment, 1001 I Street
MS-14A, Sacramento, California 95814.
Phone: (916) 341-6769. No cost.
"Luscious Layered Landfill" activity,
Delaware Solid Waste Authority. To order:
1 128 S. Bradford Street, RO. Box 455,
Dover Delaware 19903-0455.
Phone: (800) 404-7080. No cost.

Environmenta/ Education: Compendium for
Integrated Waste Management and Oil,
The Institute for Environmental Education and
the California Integrated Waste Management
Board,  1993. To order: Office of Education and
the Environment,  1001  I Street MS-14A,
Sacramento, California 95814.
Phone: (916)341-6769. No cost.
Environmental Pathways (formerly Air, Land &
Water Teachers' Manual), Illinois Environmental
Protection Agency, Office of Public Information,
1021 North Grand Avenue East, RO. Box
19276, Springfield,  Illinois 62794-9276.
To order: Phone:  (217) 558-7198. No cost.

Environmental Protection: Native American
Lands, Grades 1-12, Second Edition,
The Center for Indian-Community Development,
Humboldt State University, Arcata, California
95521. Available online:
. No  cost.
Forever Green: A Recycling Education
Program for Grade 3, Fort Howard
Corporation, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
(No longer available.)
•4th R Recycling Curriculum, San Francisco
Recycling Program,  1 1 Grove Street, San
Francisco, CA 94102. (No longer available.)
-4Rs Project: A Solid Waste Management
Curriculum for Florida Schools, The Florida
Department of Education. (No longer available.)
Here Today, Here Tomorrow (Revisited):
A Teacher's Guide to Solid Waste
Management, State of New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection and Energy,
Information Resource Center, 432 E. State
Street, CN 409, Trenton, New Jersey 08625.
(No longer available.)
LifeLab Science Program Web site, Santa
Cruz, California, .
Mister Rogers: Activities for Young Children
About the Environment and Recycling,
Family Communications, Inc.,  1990. Phone:
(203) 323-8987. (No longer available.)
Mystery of the Cast Off Caper: 4-H Solid
Waste Leader's Curriculum Guide, North
Carolina  Cooperative Extension Service, 1992.
Phone: (919) 515-8479.  (No longer available.)
Nature's Recyclers Activity Guide, Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources, 1 991.
Bureaus of Solid Waste and Information and
Education. RO. Box 7921, Madison Wisconsin
53707. Available online:
Planet Patrol: An Environmental Unit on
Solid Waste Solutions for Grades 4-6 The
Proctor & Gamble Company. To order: P&G
Educational Services, 2 P&G Plaza, Cincinnati,
OH 45202. Phone: (513) 983-2139. No cost.
The Quest for Less



Recyc//ng Study Guide and K-3 Supplement to
the Recycling Study Guide, Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources, 1993, 1990.
Bureaus of Solid Waste and Information and
Education. RO. Box 7921, Madison Wisconsin
53707. Available online:

Rethinking Recycling: An Oregon Waste
Reduction Curriculum/Teacher Resource
Guide, Oregon Department of Environmental
Quality, 1993. To order: Department of
Environmental Quality's Solid Waste Policy and
Program Development Section, 81 1  SW Sixth
Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204.
(503) 229-591 3. Available on CD or online at:
. No cost.
The No Waste Anthology: A Teacher's Guide
to Environmental Activities K-12, California
Environmental Protection Agency, Department
of Toxic Substances Control. To order: Dept.
of Toxic Substances Control; Education and
Outreach Unit; 400 P Street, RO. Box 806;
Sacramento, CA 95812-0806.
Phone: (916) 324-1826. No cost.
Trash Today, Treasure Tomorrow
University of New Hampshire Cooperative
Extension, 1 990. To order: Northeast Resource
Recovery Association, 9 Bailey Road, Chichester,
NH  03258. Phone:  (603) 798-03258. Cost:

          Vfcit OftlB'* "Educational *Re$oMrce$ "Page
         EPA continually adds new resources and Internet activities to thp Office of
         Resource Conservation and Recovery Educational Resources . This page features
         interactive activities, documents, and other materials for kids in; grades K-5, stu-
         dents in grades 6-8, teens in grades 9-12, and teachers. Check the site
         periodically for new enrichments for your students.

                            The Quest for Less •

                       Chapter 1.1: Natural Resources	3
                       Teacher Fact Sheet: Natural Resources	5
                       Nature Romp (Grades K-l)	11
                       An Ecosystem Escapade (Grades 1-3)	13
                       Dr. Seuss and Resource Use (Grades 2-3)	15
                       Sources of Resources (Grades 5-6)	17
                       How Many People Does It Take to Ruin an Ecosystem?
                       (Grades 5-6)	19

                       Chapter 1.2: Products		23
                       Teacher Fact Sheet: Products	25
                       A Matching Match (Grades K-l)	29
                       Tracing Trash Back to Its Roots (Grades 3-4)	31
                       Putting Products Under the Microscope (Grades 5-6)	35
                       Let's Go Eco-Shopping (Grades 4-8)	39
                       A Product's Life (Grades 7-8)	43

                       Chapter 1.3: Waste	45
                       Teacher Fact Sheet: Solid Waste	47
                       Teacher Fact Sheet: Hazardous Waste	51
                       Beware of Mr. Yuk (Grades K-l)	55
                       Trash Art (Grades K-3)	59
                       Weigh Your Waste! (Grades 4-6)	63
                       Trash Time Travelers (Grades 4-6)	67
                       (Hazardous) Waste Not (Grades 5-6)	71


                       Chapter 2.1: Source Reduction	77
                       Teacher Fact Sheet: Source Reduction	 79
                       Discovering Nature's Packaging (Grades K-l)	83
                       Reuse: Not Just for the Birds (Grades K-4)	85
                       Source Reduction Roundup (Grades 3-6)	87
                       Ecological  Picnic (Grades 3-4)	91
                       How Much Lunch Is Left Over? (Grades 5-6)	95
COMBUSTION.                         . 75
The Quest for Less


                                Chapter 2.2: Recycling	99
                                Teacher Fact Sheet: Recycling	101
                                Teacher Fact Sheet: Buying Recycled	107
                                Recycling Rangers (Grades K-2)	Ill
                                Follow That Bottle! (Grades K-2)	113
                                Take-Home Recycling Kit (Grades 2-3)	117
                                Making Glass from Scratch (Grades 2-3)	121
                                Handmade Recycled Paper Planters (Grades 2-6)	123
                                Recycling...Sorting It All Out (Grades 3-6)	1 25
                                Designing the Ultimate Can Crusher (Grades 4-6)	 . 129
                                Learn to Recycle (Grades 7-8)	.131
                                Recycling Includes e-Cycling (Grades 4-8)	135

                                Chapter 2.3: Composting	139
                                Teacher Fact Sheet: Composting	141
                                Compost Critters (Grades K-l)		145
                                Compost Chefs (Grades 3-8)	149
                                Compost Crops (Grades 3-8)	155
                                Worms at Work (Grades 4-8)		1 59

                                Chapter 2.4: Landfills and Combustion	163
                                Teacher Fact Sheet: Landfills	1 65
                                Teacher Fact Sheet: Combustion	 . 1 69
                                Luscious Layered Landfill (Grades 1-4)	1 73
                                A Landfill Is No Dump!  (Grades 3-6)	1 77
                                Energy Expedition (Grades 4-6)	181
                                The Great Disposal Debate (Grades 5-8)	187
                                Greenhouse Gases Be Gone (Grades 6-8)	191
                         UNIT 3  PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: A REVIEW
                                 OF LESSONS AND OPTIONS .       197
                                Waste Race (Grades 2-3)	201
                                Join the Planet Protectors Club! (Grades 3-6)	203
                                Trash Town (Grades 4-6)	209
                                Locker Leftovers (Grades 7-8)	213
                                Memorable Media Messages (Grades 6-8)	215

                                Glossary of Terms	221
                                Glossary of Skills                                     229

The Quest for Less

Where  Products Come From, How They're

Made, and the Waste They Produce

In this unit, teachers and students will develop a foundation for under-
standing the importance of managing waste properly. Students will learn
where the products they use every day come from and how much and
what kind of waste these products create. They also will learn that waste
is not only created by throwing things away, but it also can be produced
by human activities such as mining raw materials from the  ground and
manufacturing goods in factories. This part of the resource will help stu-
dents understand why it is important to prevent waste in the first place,
recycle, compost, and  reuse—activities they will learn more about in the
next unit.



     Natural Ke$ource$

Grade •  Subject •  Skills Index
                      Nature Romp     An Ecosystem     Dr. Seuss and     Sources of
                                    Escapade        Resource Use     Resources
  How Many
  People Does It
  Take to Ruin an



        Language Arts

        Social Studies


        Problem Solving
        Motor Skills
         "See Glossary of Skills for more details.
    (Jnit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
The Quest for Less

Natural  Resources
                                                          lecich-er fact  $h.eet
What Are Natural Resources?
Natural resources are useful materials from the
Earth, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and trees.
People use natural resources as raw materials to
manufacture or create a range of modern  conven-
iences. Water and food provide humans with
sustenance and energy, for example, and fossil
fuels generate heat as well as energy for trans-
portation and industrial production. Many of the
same natural resources used by people are impor-
tant to plants and wildlife for survival as well.
                       Virgin Versus
                       Resources used for the
                       first time are consid-
                       ered virgin resources,
                       and their extraction,
                       processing, and use
                       requires a great deal of
                       energy and can create
                       pollution. Resource
recovery is a practice that conserves natural
resources by extracting used materials (e.g.,
paper, glass, and metals) and energy from the
waste stream and reprocessing them for reuse.
For example, a company can create plastic from
oil, a virgin natural resource, or it can use
recovered plastic from  recycling programs.  If a
company uses recovered plastic, it is actually
saving materials that would otherwise become
waste, helping to prevent the depletion of natu-
ral resources, conserving energy, and preventing
pollution that would have been created  in the
extraction and processing of oil from the ground.

In addition to the benefits already discussed,
using recovered resources reduces threats to
biodiversity. Natural resource extraction, along
with other human activities,  increases the rate at
which species of plants and  animals are now
     Natural resources are vital to all forms
     of wildlife and the ecosystems in which
     they live.
     Humans use natural resources for such
     modern conveniences as electricity,
     transportation, and industrial produc-
     tion, as well as basic survival.
     Rapid population growth, a higher stan-
     dard of living, and technology all
     contribute to increased use of natural
     Extracting, processing, and using natu-
     ral resources can cause environmental
     problems, such as the disruption or
     destruction of ecosystems; a decrease
     in biodiversity; and land, water, and air
     Using renewable natural resources
     impacts the environment less than using
     nonrenewable resources because their
     supply can be regenerated.
     Using recovered resources prevents
     natural resources from being wasted.
     Using recovered resources rather than
     virgin resources reduces the  emission
     of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
     Resource recovery and conservation,
     as well as buying  recycled products, are
     emerging trends that reduce  consump-
     tion of natural resources.
vanishing. Diminishing the Earth's biodiversity
has a substantial human cost because wild
species and natural ecosystems are important
resources. For example, some economists esti-
mate that the lost pharmaceutical value from
plant species extinctions in the United States
alone is almost $12 billion. Reducing the land
The Quest for Less
                  Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources

Biodiversity refers to the variety of organisms
that live on Earth. Supporting so many different
organisms requires the conservation of the nat-
ura resources they need to survive. Using
natural resources can not only deplete the Earth
of the resources themselves, but by destroying
critical habitats, it can also drive some species
to extinction,  ultimately reducing biodiversity.
                    disturbance and pollution
                    associated with virgin
                    materials extraction by
                    using recovered materi-
                    als, therefore, helps stop
                    the degradation of the
                    Earth's ecosystems.
Renewable Versus
Nonrenewable  Resources
Some natural resources are nonrenewable and
some are renewable. Nonrenewable resources
are those that become depleted more quickly
than they naturally regenerate. One example
of a nonrenewable resource is mineral ore.
Once mined and  used completely,  it is gone
forever for all practical purposes, because it
will take  millions of years to regenerate.
Renewable resources can be replenished at
approximately the same rate at which they are
used (for example, sun and wind, which can
be used to provide energy).
Products Made From Natural
People use an abundance of resources to survive
in a continually developing world. Globally, how-
ever, some people live simpler lifestyles than
others and therefore use fewer resources. The fol-
lowing table lists some natural resources and the
products and services people produce from them.
Natural Resource Product/Service
Cotton plant
Iron ore
Bauxite ore
Paper, furniture, fuel
Plastic, fuel
Steel products (cans, bridges)
Aluminum products (cans, car
Jewelry, dental material
Wire, coins, electrical equipment
Steel, cast iron
Steel, jet engine parts, cutting tools
Air pollution control and telecom-
munications equipment, jewelry
Stainless steel, green glass, gems
(rubies and emeralds), leather
Jewelry, mechanical equipment

   Renewable or Nonrenewable—or Both?
   Some resources can be considered both renewable and nonrenewable. Trees are considered a
   renewable resource because their supply can be replenished (e.g., more trees can be planted). If,
   however, an entire forest of 400-year-old trees is cleared and a new-growth forest is planted, the
   supply of old-growth trees has not been replenished. It takes many generations for an old-growth
   forest to mature, and so, old-growth trees are considered nonrenewable. Trees are a complex
   resource because as a forest, their environmental and economic contributions often depend on their
   age. For example, clearing a forest of 200-year-old Redwoods, unlike clearing a forest of new-
   growth  pines, reduces the corollary biodiversity that is usually found in old-growth forests.
unit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
The Quest for Less

What Are the Benefits
of Natural  Resources?
Renewable resources offer a
number of environmental and
economic benefits over nonre-
newable resources. One
obvious benefit is the infinite
supply of renewable
resources—they cannot be
depleted. Another benefit of
using renewable resources is
self-reliance. A country that can
provide its own renewable resource, such as
solar-powered electricity, need not rely on other
countries for an energy source. Additionally,
renewable resources offer communities relief
during periods of recovery from natural disas-
ters. When communities lose standard services
that require  the use of natural resources (e.g.,
electric power or natural gas), renewable
resources, such as wind and solar energy sys-
tems, are used  to provide these services until  the
usual methods of achieving service can be
restored. Following Hurricane Andrew in  1992,
for example, a south-Miami subdivision contin-
ued to have working streetlights because they
were all photovoltaic (PV)-powered. The areas
became neighborhood gathering spots for a
community left without electricity following the
storm. In several cases, homes equipped with
PV systems were able to keep minimal services
running and became emergency shelters for sur-
rounding residents who had lost power.
Greenhouse Gas: A gas that absorbs and retains heat from the
sun. Greenhouse gases include methane, ammonia, sulfur
dioxide, and certain chlorinated hydrocarbons. A buildup of
these gases traps warmth in the Earth's atmosphere, changing
the global climate.
Global Climate Change: Natural- or human-induced change in
the average global temperature of the atmosphere near the
Earth's surface.
            What Are the
            Challenges of  Using
            Natural Resources?
            Extracting, processing, and
            using natural resources cre-
            ates air, water, and land
            pollution, which can cause
            global  environmental prob-
            lems. For example, carbon
            dioxide, which is produced
            from deforestation, and from burning coal,
            oil, and natural gas  (fossil fuels), is a critical
            greenhouse gas. Many scientists believe that the
            buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
            can cause global climate change. Over time,
            this condition could  pose serious dangers
            around the world, prompting such disasters as
            flooding, drought, and disease.

            In addition, extracting and  using resources can
            disturb relationships within  ecosystems. For
            example, the effects  of clearing an old-growth
            forest for wood can  destroy habitats used by
   What Are Ecosystems?
   Ecosystems are self-regulating communities of plants and animals that interact with one another
   and with their nonliving environment. Examples of ecosystems include ponds, woodlots, and fields.

   Organisms within an ecosystem are connected by energy. Individuals in a community feed on each
   other, thus transferring energy along a food chain or food web.  In a food chain, energy is trans-
   ferred from one organism to another in a linear form. For example, the sun provides fuel for a fig
   tree,  which provides sustenance for wasps. The wasps are a food source for spiders, which are
   eaten by birds. More complex food webs can be thought of as a network, involving energy transfers
   among several organisms.
The Quest for Less
                             Unit 1, Chapter 1.1. Natural Resources

many animals, forcing them to
find homes elsewhere. If these ani-
mals leave an ecosystem, further
disturbances can occur within
plant and animal populations that
depend on these species.

Additionally, with the absence of
tall trees in the forest, lower vege-
tation would lose shade provided
by the  upper canopy, resulting in
increased exposure to sunlight
and decreased moisture. Changes
in an ecosystem's climatic condi-
tions will eventually change
vegetation type, which will alter
the kinds of animals that can exist
in that community. Over time, if
enough ecosystems are affected,
an entire community type can
change (e.g., over-harvested fields
can turn into deserts).
Natural Resource Consumption Facts
•  The United States uses one rrjillion gallons of oil every
   2 minutes.
•  Every American uses about 4^,000 pounds of newly
   mined materials each year.
•  A television  requires 35 different minerals, and  more
   than 30 minerals are needed to make a computer.
•  Over the past 40 years, global consumption of wood
   as industrial fuel rose by nearjy 80 percent. North
   America alone accounts for about 40 percent of both
   production and consumption bf wood as industrial
   wood products.
•  In 2001, each person in the IjJnited States threw away
   an average  of 4.5 pounds of waste each day.
(Sources: Natural  Resources Defense Council, 1996; National
Mining Association, 2000; World  Resources Institute, 2000; EPA,
                    Population growth, increas-
                    ing affluence, technological
                    change, and urbanization
                    are all responsible for rap-
                    idly rising resource
                    consumption all over the
                    world. The relationship
                    between population
                    growth and increased
                    resource use varies
                    among developed and
          undeveloped nations. For example, according to
          the Department of Energy, residents of the
          industrialized world comprise only 20 percent of
          the world's population, yet consume 86 percent
          of its iron and steel, and 76 percent of its
          timber. Despite the inconsistent relationship
          between resource use and developed and unde-
          veloped nations, it is apparent that worldwide,
          more people use more resources.  With popula-
          tion, technology, and lifestyle demands growing
          exponentially, people are using increasing
                amounts  of many natural resources.
 Innovative Technology Using
 Recovered Materials
 Plastic lumber was developed to utilize low-cost materials
 such as plastic grocery bags and wood chips or sawdust.
 Used as a wood alternative, plastic lumber offers several
 advantages over using lumber; it is long lasting, requires
 limited upkeep, and resists warping and decay. One
 example of how using plastic lumber can conserve and
 recover resources is a bridge at Ft.  Leonard Wood,
 Missouri. The construction of the plastic lumber bridge
 utilized 13,000 pounds of mixed plastics that otherwise
 would have gone to waste. This exercise in reuse trans-
 lates into significant natural resource conservation.
                  Emerging Trends
                  Increasing demands for natural
                  resources have spurred new methods for
                  conserving  existing resources. More and
                  more compcnies are developing new
                  and innovative technologies that use
                  recycled materials as raw materials in
                  the manufacture of products.  Some steel
                  producers,  for example, use minimills
                  and a manufacturing process that uses
                  virtually 100 percent recovered scrap
                  steel as the  raw material.
 Unit 1, Chapter 1.1. Natural Resources
                                         The Quest for Less

Recovery—In Action
•  More than 65 percent of the steel produced in the United States is made from recovered steel.
•  The average aluminum can contains an average of 50 percent post-consumer recycled content
•  By 2003, the paper industry relied on recovered  paper for 50 percent of its feedstock.
•  Using  recovered aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the same
   amount of aluminum from bauxite, its virgin source.
•  Recycling and reuse of 2,000 pounds of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water and 380 gallons
               (Sources: Steel Recycling Institute, 2000; Alur
               2000; The Can Manufacturers Institute, 199/;
           How Can You  Help?
           An increasing number of individuals are also
           practicing conservation  methods by using  less—
           such as buying products with less packaging.
           (See the Teacher Fact Sheets titled Recycling on
           page 101 and Buying Recycled on page 107).
           Certain lifestyle changes, such as composting
           food scraps rather than  buying fertilizer (see the
           Teacher Fact Sheets titled Source Reduction on
           page 79 and Composting on page 141),  also
           preserve natural resources. Other  suggestions
                                             for ways to practice conservation of natural
                                             resources include:

                                             •  Reducing waste by reusing paper grocery
                                                and lunch bags or eliminate waste by using
                                                cloth bags.

                                             •  Donating old toys, clothes, furniture, cars,
                                                and other items to organizations such as the
                                                Salvation Army  rather than throwing them in
                                                the garbage.

                                             •  Closing the recycling loop by purchasing
                                                recycled-content products and packaging.
                  Additional Information Resources:
                  Visit the following Web sites for more information on natural resources and solid waste:

                  •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
                  •  U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery composting site:
                  •  World Resources Institute: 
                  •  Natural Resources Defense Council:  
                  •  United States Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory: 
                  •  United States Department of Energy's Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development:

                  To order the following item on municipal solid  waste, call EPA toll-free at (800)  490-91 98 or look on
                  the EPA Web site .

                  • A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM
           The Quest for Less
                                                               Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Matural Resources



                                                                                Grades K-l
Nature  Romp
       Objective  J

To gain an appreciation of nature and the environment.
                                         Key Vocabulary Words J
       Activity Description  J
Students will take a nature walk, make observations,
and collect natural objects for an art activity.
        Materials Needed  J
   Bags (e.g., old lunch
   or grocery bags)
          Pens or pencils
          Construction paper
          Large sheet of paper

                            Skills Used )
                            Motor skills
       Activity  J
Step 1: Draw a chart on a large piece of
cardboard or poster board with headings that
describe several types of natural objects that
students could find outdoors. Headings might
include rocks, leaves, flowers, bugs, animals,
nuts (see below). Attach a sample of each of
these objects (e.g., for flower, it can be a
flower petal or seed). Discuss each of the
                          objects and tell students their mission will be
                          to find evidence of these items in the out-
                          doors. Examples of the types of evidence
                          students might bring back that would fit into
                          the category headings could include pebbles,
                          leaves or needles, seeds, acorns, feathers,
                          and twigs.

                          Step 2: Bring students outdoors into the
                          school yard, a field, a patch of woods, a gar-
                          den, or other natural area, no matter how
The Quest for Less
                                            Unit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources

small. Distribute a bag to students, and tell them
they are on a scavenger hunt to find evidence of
the items discussed in class. Please ensure that
students only collect items that have fallen to the
ground or are dead; no live plants, flowers,
insects, or other organisms should be collected,
nor should bark be peeled off trees. Teachers
might have to work closely with students to help
them locate  and identify appropriate items.

Step 3: While students are collecting objects,
ask them for their observations. You might want
to talk about their discoveries, focusing on col-
ors, senses,  seasons, or animal lives (e.g.,
hibernation, food).

Step 4: Regroup in  the classroom and help
students spread everything they've collected on
a table. Ask the students to categorize their
items into the headings on the chart you pre-
pared earlier. Compare the different colors,
sizes, and shapes of each of the items. Group
everyone's objects together and attach them to
the posterboard, or let students keep their own
pile and proceed  to Step 5.

Step 5: Prepare for painting and gluing  by
putting on smocks and gathering the art sup-
plies (e.g., paper  or cardboard, glue,  crayons,
paint, construction paper, and scissors). Ask stu-
dents to create artwork, using objects they
collected, that depicts the  natural environment
they just explored. Students can glue natural
objects directly onto the paper, or they can cre-
ate a sculpture. Students could also create
cut-outs of animals or  plants that they observed.

Step 6: Allow the artwork to dry and hang
posters around the classroom to bring a little  of
the environment indoors!
Teachers: Please note that many federal and
state land management agencies prohibit or
discourage collecting living or non-living  items
in a natural environment. Depending on your
situation, you might want to consider directing
students to draw or paint the live organisms
they find as a substitute for the real thing.
       Assessment J
1.  Ask students if they found anything outside
   that they had never seen before. If so, can
   they explain what it is?

2.  Review some of tne specific items found and
   what their purpose is.
3.  Ask students to share what they like best in
   ^ Enrichment  J
1.  Schedule a day trip to a local nature center
   where students can participate in further out-
   door education.

2.  Adopt a specific +ree in your schoolyard and
   observe how it changes through the seasons.
   Have students draw the tree during different
3.  Participate in an environmental education
   workshop and obtain copies of the conserva-
   tion/environmental education activity guides
   entitled  Project WILD K-12, Project WILD
   Aquatic  Education, or Project Learning Tree.
   Project WILD's state coordinators and their
   facilitators conduct workshops (usually 6
   hours long) for educators within their state.
   The activity guides are  provided to those who
   participate in the workshops. They include
   numerous indoor  and outdoor hands-on
   activities related *o the  environment, with a
   focus on wildlife. Other classroom  materials
   are available without participating in the
   workshops. For more information, and to
   find out how to get information in your state,
   visit the  Web site .
   You can also contact the Project WILD
   National Office at (713) 520-1936 or

Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
                               The Quest for Less

                                                                               Grades 1-3
       Objective J
To learn how animals and plants depend on each other
in ecosystems.
     y Activity Description J
Students will role-play elements of a food web to illus-
trate the connections in ecosystems.
       Materials Needed J
   Paper or cardboard
   Crayons or markers
   Scissors and string
               Subjects Covered  J
                Food chain
                Food web
               Skills Used  ]

                Motor skills
       Activity J
Step 1: If possible, take the students out-
side into a natural environment, such as
woods (otherwise, ask them to use their
imaginations and conduct the lesson
indoors). Explain what an ecosystem is and
what types of ecosystems are in your area.
Ask them to identify different animals and
plants that they see when they go outside.
Discuss in a group what all animals and
plants have in  common  (i.e., that they need
to eat).  Explain how some animals eat
plants, some plants eat animals (e.g., a
Venus Fly Trap), and some animals eat other
animals. Ask the students what they eat.

Step 2: Explain that animals and plants
rely on each other for food and for survival.
All of the plants and animals working
together, eating each other and being
eaten, is part of nature and can be
Sample Food Chain:
(in an Eastern U.S. deciduous wooded ecosystem)
Sample Food Web:
(in an Eastern deciduous wooded ecosystem)
                                        Arrows indicate the direction that energy is transferred.
The Quest for Less
                   Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources

          described as "food chains" or "food webs."
          Show the students an example on the board
          (see sidebar for examples of food chains and
          food webs).

          Step  3: Based on the animals and plants that
          are named by the students, create a food web
          on the  board and have students help you
          decide which animals and plants eat each other.

          Step  4: Have each student pick one animal or
          plant in the ecosystem described on the board.
          Instruct each student to draw a picture on a
          piece of paper or cardboard of their animal or
          plant and write its name near the picture.
          Step 5: Using a hole-punch and string, help
          students create a placard to identify them as a
          particular animal or plant.
                                                Step 6: Facilitate an exercise with the stu-
                                                dents in which they find the animal or plant that
                                                they eat and link hands with that person. If the
                                                food web is created properly, many people
                                                should be holding hands.
                                                    ^Assessment J
                                                1.  As Step 6 is being conducted, ask students
                                                   to remember what eats what. If there is more
                                                   than one option, acknowledge students
                                                   when they say a correct answer, even if no
                                                   one in the class is role-playing that particular
                                                   plant or animal.
                                                2.  Ask students why animals eat other animals
                                                   or plants.
                                                3.  Ask students what would happen to the
                                                   plants and animals in the food web if one
                                                   plant or animal disappeared. Explore with
                                                   students reasons why an animal or plant
                                                   would disappear.
                                                   ^ Enrichment J
                                                1.  Create illustrations and placards exemplify-
                                                   ing a chain of foods that the students eat.
                                                   Then link hands to create one  or more
                                                   chains (for example, people eat hamburger,
                                                   which is  made from cows, which eat grass).
                                                2.  Teach the students the words to "This Land Is
                                                   Your Land" and  sing it as a class. Discuss
                                                   some of the lyrics that describe particular
                                                   ecosystems (e.g., redwood forests).
                                                3.  Tell students the different types of ecosystems
                                                   that exist in your geographic location, such  as
                                                   streams,  ponds, forests, deserts, and mead-
                                                   ows. Have each  student pick one and draw a
                                                   picture of it, including animals and plants that
                                                   live  in it. If possible, have students collect
                                                   items in nature, s_ich as leaves, acorns,
                                                   bones, bark, to include in their artwork.
Unit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
The Quest for Less

       Objective  J
To learn about resources and the potential negative
impacts humans can have on the environment
through overconsumption.
       Activity Description J
Students will listen to the teacher read The Lorax by Dr.
Seuss. The teacher will then show the class products
that exemplify reduced resource consumption.
       Materials Needed J

   The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
                                                                                  Grades 2-3
                                                           Key Vocabulary Words J
                                                            Natural resources
                                                           Skills Used  )
                                                            Problem solving
       Activity  J
         Listening Exercise

Step  1: Introduce and discuss the concept
of natural resources and product consumption
with students (refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet
titled Natural Resources on page 5). Review
vocabulary words above. Note how humans
continue to consume more and more  prod-
ucts, which takes a  toll on the environment.

Explain that ecosystems are comprised of
many different interrelated components,  such
as different plant and animal species.  Add
that when one part  of an ecosystem is dis-
turbed, it impacts the entire ecosystem.

Step 2: Take students to a quiet area  out-
side where they can sit comfortably and  listen
without distractions. Have students sit  in  a cir-
cle. Once settled, ask students to close their
                                            eyes and take three long deep breaths to help
                                            them relax.

                                            Step 3:  Once students are calm and atten-
                                            tive, read The Lorax out loud.  In this story, a
                                            character called the "Once-ler"  cuts down
                                            "Truffula" trees for their valuable silk tufts and
                                            uses them  to make "thneeds." Due to increas-
                                            ing thneeds sales,  the Once-ler  builds a
                                            factory and invents an axe that can cut down
                                            four trees at once. The Lorax,  a  wise creature
                                            of the forest, recognizes the potential harm
                                            this could  have on the Truffula tree forest
                                            ecosystem. He speaks up to defend the trees,
                                            animals, air, and water that the Once-ler is
                                            destroying  in pursuit of more money and to
                                            satisfy those who want thneeds.  Eventually all
                                            the Truffula trees are depleted, and the Once-
                                            ler can no longer produce thneeds. The once
                                            beautiful site is left contaminated with polluted
                                            air and water.
The Quest for Less
                                                               Unit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources

                 Journal Activity J
         Remind students that the borax
         spoke for the trees, "for the trees
         have no tongues." Ask students to
         choose one thing in the environ-
         ment that is in jeopardy and
         cannot speak for itself and
         defend it Why is it in jeopardy?
          Step 4: Discuss the story with the students.
          Begin by asking them why the Once-ler is called
          the "Once-ler." Evaluate why the Once-ler had to
          use all the Truffula trees and ask the students to
          speculate why he would not listen to the Lorax.
          Ask the students if they can suggest a way for the
          Once-ler to make thneeds without destroying the
          ecosystem in which the Lorax lived.

          Step 5: Have students suggest "thneeds" that
          they often use (e.g., clothes, food, books).
          Instruct students to go home that night and think
          about how they can consume less resources
          while still using their thneeds. One example is
          buying used clothing instead of new clothing.
          Instruct students to bring in their thneed for a
          "show and tell" activity the following day.
                   "Show and Tell"

          Step 1: Have students present their thneed
          and explain their solution for consuming less
          resources while using their thneed. If the student
          cannot think of a solution, ask the class to con-
          tribute its ideas.
                                                             ^ Assessment  J
                                                1. Ask the students why the Once-ler cut down
                                                  the Truffula trees.
                                                2. Ask the students why the Brown Bar-ba-loots
                                                  have to leave the  forest after the Once-ler
                                                  starts his thneed production. Could some-
                                                  thing  like this happen  in real life? How?

                                                3. Have students lis" three ways the Thneed fac-
                                                  tory caused problems  for the Truffula  Tree
                                                  forest and its residents.
                                                4. Have students explain what the Lorax's mes-
                                                  sage "Unless" means  (answers should
                                                  include the need for future generations to
                                                  protect and care for the Earth).
                                                   ^ Enrichment J
                                                1.  Break students into groups of approximately
                                                   five students. Have students rewrite The Lorax
                                                   so that the Truffuta tree forest and its inhabi-
                                                   tants are saved. Students can use this to
                                                   develop a script and act out their own story
                                                   in front of the class.

                                                2.  Instruct students to create a collage of their
                                                   needs and wants, labeling them "thneeds"
                                                   and "thwants," b/ cutting pictures out of
                                                   magazines. Once the collages are  complete,
                                                   ask the students to tell the class about
                                                   opportunities to use less resources with the
                                                   thneeds and thwants.

(Jnit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
The Quest for Less

                                                                            Grades 5-6
Source?  of Resource?
       Objective J
To identify natural resources as renewable or nonrenew-
able; to learn where resources come from; and to
understand how overconsumption of limited supplies
can be problematic.

wtjj Activity Description J

Students will research resources, investigating their
sources and uses. They will present conclusions to the
class and identify on a map where the resource is most
often found.
                             Subjects Covered J
                             Natural resources
                             Raw materials
      Materials Needed  J
   Wool sweater
   Plastic milk jug
   Metal can
   Glass bottle
   Plastic boot or raincoat
   Fruit and/or vegetables
   Wood object (chair,
   ruler, etc.)
   Cotton T-shirt
Dairy product (egg,
cheese, milk, etc.)
Leather (belt, shoe,
purse, etc.)
Paper (used to make
small labels/tags)
World map
                             1  hour
                            Skills Used )
Problem solving
      Activity  J
Step 1: Display all of the materials from the
"Materials Needed" list above except for the
last five items. Discuss the concept of natural
resources with the students and ask them to
identify what each of the objects on display
are made from (refer to Teacher Fact Sheet
titled Natural Resources on page 5). List their
answers on the board. Use the list to  define
and explain the key vocabulary words.
                Valuable Natural Resources
                Fresh Water
The Quest for Less
                                Unit 1, Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources

       Journal Activity J
Ask students to list the kinds of
natural resources they use fre-
quently. Are they renewable or
nonrenewable? Ask students to
write about what they would do
if the world supply of the
resource ran out
Step 2: Have a brainstorming session with
students to identify well-known resources such as
those listed in the "Valuable Natural Resources"
sidebar. Try to come up with at least as many
resources as there are students in the class.
Write the list on the chalkboard.

Step 3: Have each student choose a natural
resource from the list.

Step 4: Instruct students to research their cho-
sen resource. They should use library and
Internet resources to investigate the dominant
sources and uses for their resource. Students
should also research consumption of their
resource and analyze whether their resource
might become  depleted in the near future.

Step 5: Display a large map of the world in
the front of the classroom.

Step 6: Have students write the name of their
resource on  several small pieces of paper.

Step 7: Have students present information
about their resource to the class,  discussing their
research conclusions. Students should begin
their presentation  by telling the class what their
resource is and where it is most typically found.'
Students should pin the paper that labels their
resource on  the map at the appropriate regions.
Additionally, students should discuss whether the
resource is renewable  or nonrenewable and tell
the class some of the resource uses and any
associated consumption issues.
                                                      Assessment  J
   Ask students to identify the natural  resources
   used to make items, other than those previ-
   ously studied. Have students think about their
   house, family car, room, school, or other
   familiar objects in their lives.
   Test students' memory of where some of the
   assigned resources come from. Take the pins
   out of the map and have students place the
   pins at the proper geographic locations as
   you call out the resources.
   Ask students to explain and discuss the
   importance of monitoring resource  consump-
   tion. Also, discuss why it  is important to
   develop and discover alternatives to certain
   ^ Enrichment J
1.  Have students research, via the Internet or
   the school library, information on our global
   population and specific resource quantities.
   Have them calculate and record figures to
   determine the approximate future supply of
   particular resources.

2.  Have students pick their favorite resource
   and identify ways to conserve it. With this
   information,  have students write and act out
   a skit that exemplifies resource conservation
3.  Conduct a geology lesson that incorporates
   a discussion  of the formation of some com-
   mon natural  resources (e.g., coal, petroleum,
   diamonds). Ask students why all resources
   are  not located right in their backyards.
   Discuss what this means in terms of resource
   availability (e.g.,  how we get resources from
   other countries).

Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
                              The Qciest for Less

How Many "People Doe?  it
fake to Bum an
       Objective J
                            Subjects Covered J
To learn how animals and plants depend on each other
in ecosystems and how human activities can impact
      Activity Description J
Students will role-play elements of a food web to illus-
trate the connections in ecosystems and will respond to
real-life scenarios that  impact ecosystems.
       Materials Needed  J
   Red stickers
   Green stickers
   Black stickers
                             Food chain
                             Food web
Duration J

 1 to 2 hours

Skills Used  ]

 Motor skills
Step 1: Discuss ecosystems with stu-
dents and identify the types of ecosystems
that exist in your geographical area.
Select an ecosystem to study  (e.g., forest,
meadow, stream, pond).

Step 2: As an in-class exercise with
students, brainstorm some of the animals
and plants that make up that ecosystem.
Have a student write everything on the
board and have the class create links
between the items that plants and ani-
mals eat and those that eat them. The
result should be a complex food web
(see example in the side bar). Leave the
food web on the board until the next day.

Step 3:  Assign each student to a partic-
ular plant or animal that exists in a
                                        Sample Food Web:
                                        (in an Eastern U.S. deciduous wooded ecosystem)
            Arrows indicate the direction that energy is transferred.
The Quest for Less
                               Unit 1, Chapter 1.1. Natural Resources

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to describe a natu-
          ral place that is special to them.
          Have them write about what lives
          there and why it is so magical. Or
          ask them to write a poem that is
          in the shape of something in
          specified ecosystem. Have them research (either
          at the school library or on the Internet) what the
          plant eats, what eats it, and any factors that are
          necessary in its habitat for survival.  Have students
          tell the class what they found, in 5 minutes or
          less,, modifying the  existing food web as you go.

          Step 4: Have  students create a placard  to
          identify themselves as a certain plant or animal.
          All students  should start off with a green sticker
          on their placard, indicating that the population
          of their plant or  animal species is healthy.
          Step 5: Facilitate an exercise in which each
          person holds hands with the person wearing a
                                               sign of the animal or plant that they eat. The
                                               result should be a tangled web of students,
                                               holding several people's hands.

                                               Step 6: Now, introduce some human-created
                                               scenarios that woulc affect this ecosystem (see
                                               examples below). When an  animal or plant is
                                               affected, a red or black sticker must be placed
                                               on the person's placard. For example,  in a
                                               meadow ecosystem, a scenario might be that a
                                               farmer applies pesticides to the meadow, which
                                               kills off the Monarch Butterflies. Whomever is
                                               playing the role of the Monarch Butterfly would
                                               put a black sticker over top of the green sticker
                                               (and should be removed from the web).
                                               Students should be asked to identify what other
                                               species are affected by the disappearance of the
                                               Monarchs in  this ecosystem. Those that are
                                               affected  (that depend on the Monarch  for food
                                               or that serve  as prey for the Monarch)  should
                                               place a red sticker ever top of the green sticker,
                                               indicating the species is in trouble.
                                                 Sample Scenarios of Human
                                                 Activities That Could Affect

                                                 •  Pesticide-containing runoff makes its
                                                    way into a stream from which animals
                                                 •  A household dumps used oil in the storm
                                                    drain, which empties out into a bay.
                                                 •  An old-growth forest is clear-cut.
                                                 •  Hazardous waste from  a factory is
                                                    dumped into the river.
                                                 •  Acid rain from factories kills off trees in
                                                    a forest 200 miles away.

                                               Step  7: Introduce several  detrimental scenar-
                                               ios until the students decide  that the ecosystem
                                               is no longer viable and should be considered

Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources
The Quest for Less

        Assessment J
1. Have students define and describe a food
2. Ask students to describe the characteristics of
   an ecosystem.

3. Ask students to explain how several elements
   of an ecosystem can  be harmed even if only
   one element is initially affected.
    frfl Enrichment  J
1. Repeat the exercise described in Step 6, but
   this time use examples of recent human
   actions and efforts to make a positive impact
   on an ecosystem. For example, through the
   work of biologists and naturalists, the fox is
   reintroduced into an ecosystem and environ-
   mental groups help Congress to pass and
   enforce laws to protect its habitat.
2. Present the class with a scenario that pits
   human activities against  an ecosystem. Break
   the class into groups and assign different
   roles to the different groups.  For example,
   one group could represent a developer that
   wants to fill in a wetland to build a shopping
   mall. Another group could represent a group
   of citizens of that community that want to
   save the wetland. Another group could rep-
   resent the new workers who could benefit
   from jobs at the new mall. Students should
   be instructed .to think of all the reasons why
   they would support or  oppose the mall from
   their perspective and have a  mini-debate
   about the issue.
3. Take the students on a field trip to a  local
   park, stream,  pond, or wooded area, and
   take an inventory of all the common birds
   and plants that are observed in that ecosys-
   tem.  Students could learn how to use field
   guides and identify the species observed.
4. Give the  students a list of species that have
   become extinct in the last 100 years and ask
   them to research how  they became extinct
   (e.g., overharvesting, habitat destruction) and
   present the information to the class, along
   with a description of the  species and/or a
   photograph. This will help the class appreci-
   ate the beauty of many of the extinct species
   and gain an understanding of the human
   activities that caused their demise.
The Quest for Less
                  Unit 1. Chapter 1.1, Natural Resources




      Grade •  Subject  • Skills  Index
                     A Matching

                Language Arts
                Social Studies

                Problem Solving
                Motor Skills
                                               Tracing Trash      Putting Products   Let's Go Eco-
                                               Back to Its Roots   Under the        Shopping
  A Product's


                 See Glossary of Skills for more details.
Unit 1. Chapter 1.2, Products
The Quest for Less

                                                         leach-er  ?act
How Are Products Made?
Everyone uses a variety of products each day—
from toothbrushes to notebooks to lunch boxes
to video games. Each of these products has an
effect on the environment in one way or another.
Sometimes merely using (or misusing) a product
can affect the health of people and the environ-
ment. Some  products can affect the environment
through the way they are made or disposed of.
For example, products made from virgin natural
resources have different effects on the environ-
ment than those made from recovered  resources.
By understanding a product's life cycle—the
development, use, and disposal of a product-
people can make better decisions about what
products to buy and how to use them wisely.

A product's  life cycle generally includes design;
exploration,  extraction, and  processing of
resources (raw materials); manufacturing; distri-
bution and use; and retirement.  If a product is
made from 1 00 percent recovered materials,
exploration and extraction of virgin materials is
not necessary.  If a product is recycled, compost-
ed, or reused,  people do  not have to throw it
away. By altering the  product life cycle in these
ways, people can  save energy and resources,
and  therefore,  prevent waste and pollution.

The Product Life Cycle
The following sections describe each stage in
the product life cycle, as well as  the challenges,
benefits, and emerging trends associated with
each step.
Product design can involve research, testing,
and development. This includes development of
synthetic  materials, such as plastics, which
derive from natural sources.

Some products are designed to be used only
once (disposable), while others are designed to
be used many times (durable).  Engineering and
material choices can determine whether a
  fCey Point*
  •  Product life cycle includes design,
     extraction of natural resources, manu-
     facture, use. and disposal or recycling.
     If a product is made with recovered
     materials, raw materials do not have to
     be extracted from the Earth. If a prod-
     uct is recycled or reused, its life cycle
     begins anew and has less effect on the
  •  The extraction of raw materials and
     the manufacture and disposal of a
     product can create pollution and waste
     and can require a great deal of energy
  •  Durable products can be used many
     times and create less waste, while dis-
     posable products are usually used only
  •  Product manufacturers are beginning to
     make more products that have environ-
     mentally preferable attributes.
product is durable, disposable, or recyclable,
or a combination.

Over the last few decades, as people's lives have
become more complicated and technology more
advanced, many consumers have come to desire
the convenience of disposable items over the
durability of reusable ones. Also, it is sometimes
easier to replace items rather than fix them. Thus,
more and more items end up as trash in landfills
or incinerators.

Products are often conceived  and designed with
a focus  simply on how they will be used  and
with less concern about the other stages in their
life cycle. In the past decade, however, con-
sumers have begun to demand more
environmentally preferable products or "green"
products—products that have fewer  negative
The Quest for Less
                        Unit 1, Chapter 1.2, Products

          effects on human health and the environment
          when compared to traditional products.
          Manufacturers have responded by offering
          products that are made from recycled-content
          materials, low in toxicity, and high in energy-effi-
          ciency. Other products have been designed to
          conserve water, minimize air pollution or,
          through a combination of factors, have fewer
          negative impacts on the environment.

          Exploration, Extraction, and Processing
          Manufacturers must obtain the materials needed
          to make their products. If a manufacturer uses
          recovered materials, the company can obtain
          them from recycling processors or other similar
          sources. Virgin resources, however, must be mined
          (for metals and minerals) or harvested (for wood
          and other biobased materials) from the Earth.
          Once they are extracted, they must be processed
          for use in manufacturing.

                               The extraction of raw
                               materials generates
                               waste and pollution and
                               requires a great deal of
                               energy. In many cases,
                               the natural resources
                               used in manufacturing
                               are nonrenewable. This
                               means that, eventually,
                               the natural resource will
                               be depleted. As  more
          Product Facts
          •  Most glass bottles and jars contain at least 25 to 30 per-
             cent recycled glass.
          •  Making 2,000 pounds of paper from trees requires 3,700
             pounds of wood, 200 pounds of lime, 360 pounds of salt
             cake, 76  pounds of soda ash, 24,000 gallons of water,
             and 28 million BTUs of energy.
          •  Making an aluminum can from recycled material requires
             95 percent less energy than making one from the natural
             resource raw material, bauxite ore.
          •  For every 1 00 pounds of products made, over 3,000
             pounds of waste is generated.
          (Sources: Glass Packing Institute; Can Manufacturers Institute;
and more communities offer recycling programs
and people participate in them, manufacturers
may be able to use increased recovered materi-
als instead of virgin materials to make products.

Whether a product is made from virgin or recov-
ered materials, often the factories that
manufacture the product are specially designed
to use a consistent form of material. If a product
is made in a plant designed to process virgin
materials,  changing to recycled materials might
not be easy. Changing the kinds of materials
used in  manufacturing, such as using recycled
paper instead of virgin paper, can  require
changes in technology and equipment and can
slow down the pace of production. In the past
decade, however, many manufacturing plants
have begun retooling and learning to use recov-
ered materials rather than virgin materials,  and
thus, the variety of recycled-content products has
been growing. (See the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Recycling on page 101  for more information.)

Manufacturing products generates pollution and
usually requires a great deal of energy. Using
recovered materials can often save energy  and
reduce pollution. The manufacturing process
also generates waste, but at some manufacturing
plants, this waste can be reused.

Distribution and Use
People rely on various products to live in a
            modern society. Most people  pur-
            chase and use some type of
            manufactured product every day
            because it is easier and more con-
            venient than making the same
            items from scratch (for example,
            going to a store and buying a box
            or bag of rice is much simpler, and
            more practical, than trying to grow
            rice in a paddy in the backyard).

            After products are manufactured,
            many must be packaged for trans-
            portation and distribution. Often,
            products are transported long dis-
            tances across the nation or  even
            internationally before people can
            purchase and use those items.

          Unit 1. Chapter 1.2. Products
                               The Qaest for Less

Products often require packaging to protect them
from spoilage, damage, contamination, and tam-
pering during transportation, storage, and sale.
Sometimes packaging is necessary to inform con-
sumers about product benefits, proper use, and
other information. While some products might
appear to have excessive packaging, in many
cases the packaging serves several purposes,
without which the products might not be available
as widely or as frequently.

Packaging—when it is discarded—can create a
great deal of waste. In communities where com-
mon packaging materials are not recyclable, these
items must be thrown away, wasting precious
resources and  potential recovered  materials.

Product  Retirement
After use,  many  items or packaging are dis-
posed of in landfills or incinerators. Others are
recovered for recycling. If products are disposed
of in landfills or incinerators, they can no longer
provide any benefit. Emissions to  air and water
from these disposal methods can  affect human
health and the environment.
   Think Globally, Buy Locally
   One way consumers can help eliminate the
   need for excessive packaging is to buy products
   locally. This concept, known as bioregionalism,
   works on the  idea that if consumers buy prod-
   ucts made  within their own communities,
   packaging  that would  otherwise be needed to
   protect the products during transportation and
   storage could be eliminated or reduced.
If products are recycled, composted, or reused,
they continue to serve a purpose, either as a
raw material or for the same use they were orig-
inally intended. Extending a product's life is a
way to save natural resources, prevent waste
reduce pollution, and conserve energy.

The more people recycle and buy recycled
products, the more incentive manufacturers will
have to make products with recovered content.
        Additional Information Resources:
        Visit the following Web sites for more information on designing and purchasing products with the
        environment in mind:

        •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
        •  U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery product stewardship site: 
        •  U.S. EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Design for the Environment Program:
        •  U.S. EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing:

        To order the following additional  documents on municipal solid waste and product life cycle, call EPA
        toll-free at (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site  .

        •  WasteWise Update—Extended Product Responsibility (EPA530-N-98-007)
        •  Puzzled About Recycling's Value? Look Beyond the Bin (EPA530-K-97-008)
        •  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM
The Quest for Less
                         Unit 1, Chapter 1.2, Products


                ^^ ^~ *t
                                                                           Grades K-1
      Hatching  Hatch.
       Objective J
              Subjects Covered J
To teach students that many products come from
natural  resources such as animals and plants.
      Activity Description J
Students will draw a line from a product to its natural
source and then color the pictures.
       Materials Needed  J
   Copies of the Matching Match worksheet for
   each student
              Natural resources
               1 hour
                                                      Skills Used ]
              Motor skills
      Activity J
Step 1: Discuss with students that every-
thing we use is made from a natural resource,
such as a plant or other resource that comes
from the Earth. Some products also come
from animals. Provide examples by talking
about what students are wearing or items in
the classroom and the sources of those items.
Step 2: Either individually or in  groups,
have the students use the Matching Match
worksheets to match the different products
with their natural resource.
Step 3: Encourage the students to color the
      Assessment J
1. Ask the students to name other items that
  are made from the same natural resources
  that are listed on the worksheet.
2. Ask students to list other plants and ani-
  mals that products are made from.
   ^ Enrichment J
   Pick a product that is made in your local
   community, such as paper, ice cream, or
   wool sweaters, and take the students on a
   field trip to see how it is made. Ideally, stu-
   dents would see how a  raw material is
   converted into a product.
The Quest for Less
                       (Jnit 1, Chapter 1.2, Products

             Matching  Match
       wool sweater
   Unit 1, Chapter 1.2, Products

The Quest fop Less

*fracing  frafh  Bock to It*  Boots
       Objective J
To teach students to identify the various natural
resources used to produce common items that become
       Activity Description J
Students will play "Trash Bingo" as a method to identify
what natural resources are used to make common
             1 hour
            Key Vocabulary Words  J

             Natural resources
             Renewable resources
             Nonrenewable resources
       Materials Needed J
Skills Used  ]
   Copies of bingo card for each student (make copies
   and then cut sheets so half,the students get one version
   of the bingo card and half get a different version).
             Problem solving
      Activity  J
Step 1' Review and explain the vocabulary
words above. Explain that most products are
made from natural resources. (Refer to the
Teacher Fact Sheets titled Natural Resources
on page 5 and Products on page 25 for back-
ground information.)
Step 2: List five categories of natural
resources on the blackboard: animals, fossil
fuels, metals, plants/trees, and sand. Discuss
with students some examples of products that
are made from these natural resources.
Brainstorm a list of things that are made from
natural resources (mostly everything!) and
make another list on the blackboard. Make
sure there are at least five products for each
natural resource category. Encourage students
to think of food and beverage items and con-
Common Products
Aluminum can
Aluminum lawn chair
Apple core
Bicycle tire
Bologna sandwich

Cereal box
Cotton shirt

Egg shells

Glass bottle of juice
         Grocery bag
         Leather jacket
         Linen pants
         Milk container

         Nylon pantyhose
         Sandwich bag

         Soda bottle
         Wool hat
The Quest for Less
                     Unit 1. Chapter 1.2, Products

      Journal Activity J
Ask students to write about what
natural resources mean to them.
Ask them to pick a natural
resource and describe why it is
special or important to them.


Have students write about their
favorite toy or game. Have them
write a history of where it came
from, starting from when it was a
natural resource.
   tainers, household product containers, and
   household items (furniture, books, appliances).
   See suggestions in box if the list is deficient.

   Step 3; Explain the rules for bingo, and hand
   out bingo cards.
   Step 4: Select words from the students' prod-
   uct list (or the list of suggestions) and  call out
   words one at a time. Instruct students  to find the
   category or categories that each item  belongs in
   on their bingo sheet and  write the name of the
   product. There may be more than one natural
   resource for each product (for example, a pair of
   tennis shoes might fill three categories: plant,
   fossil  fuel, and metal).
   Step 5: The first student to fill the card wins.
   Use the T-R-A-S-H letters as free spaces. Be sure
   to check the student's bingo sheet to  see if all
   answers are correct!
   Step 6: After the bingo game, have each stu-
   dent circle the items that are made from
   renewable resources.
                                                        Assessment  J
1.  What are nature  resources?
2.  What's the difference between renewable
   and nonrenewable natural resources?
   ^ Enrichment  J
  Additional questions include asking students
   what happens if we keep using more and
   more natural resources? How can we stop
   using so many natural resources? How can
   we use more renewable resources and less
   nonrenewable resources?

   Play show and tell. Have students bring in
   one of their favorite "things" and tell the
   class where it came from, including the
   resources used in producing it and how it
   came to be in their house. Have them
   describe what they will do with it when it is
   broken, old, used up, or no longer needed.
   Conduct a scavenger hunt.  Make a list of
   common items found inside or outside of the
   classroom that are derived from animals,
   plants, metals/minerals, fossil fuels, or sand.
   Have students find 1 5 of 30 items and iden-
   tify which category they belong in. Give the
   students 15 minutes to  look for the items,
   then call them together and discuss their

    Unit 1, Chapter 1.2, Products
                              The Quest for Less



                    'ssil Fuels
                                Fossil Fciels
Fossil Fuels
Fossil Fuels
           Fossil Fciels
            Fossil Fciels
           Fossil Fciels
The Quest for Less
                                     Unit 1. Chapter 1.2. Products        3 3


                                                                         Grades 5-6
Putting  Product* TTn4er
the  Kicr00cope
      Objective J
To have students evaluate a product to determine its
resource use and overall impacts on the environment.
      Activity Description J
Students select a product manufactured in their com-
munity and discuss the raw materials and resources
required to make the product.
      Materials Needed J

   Copies of Product Inspector worksheet for students.
              Key Vocabulary Words J

              Manufacturing process
              Raw materials
              Duration J

              30 minutes

              Skills Used
              Problem solving
      Activity J
Step 1: Explain that everyone uses a variety
of products every day. Note that there is a
manufacturing process involved in creating a
new product and that any new product
requires raw materials. (Refer to the Teacher
Fact Sheets titled Natural. Resources on page
5 and Products on page 25 for background

Step 2: Have students select a product that is
made in their community or state. Products
might include bicycles, batteries, pens, milk,
shoes, ships, plastic toys, glass bottles, or paper.

Step 3: Ask the students to draw a picture
of the. product. Then ask them to label all of
the product's different parts and write both the
The Quest for Less
raw materials used to make each part as well
as the original resources used to make the
raw material on the Product Inspector work-
sheet. If a student draws a car, for example,
he or she would label the dashboard and note
that plastic is derived from petroleum.

Step 4: Discuss whether there are more raw
materials required to make the product than
expected. Ask where the raw materials come
from—your town, state, country, or another
nation. Discuss what happens to the environ-
ment when the raw materials are extracted
from the Earth or harvested. Does this process
produce pollutants or harm land or ecosys-
tems? Discuss ecosystems in your geographical
area that might be affected  by the removal of
raw  materials. How might people living in the
area be affected?
                      Unit 1, Chapter 1.2. Products

       Journal Activity J
Ask the students to name some
products they could give up for a
day, a month, or longer. Ask them
to describe how giving up these
items would affect other people
and the environment
Step 5: Ask students to describe what hap-
pens to the product after they use it. Can it be
used up or will it wear out? Can the product or
its parts be reused or recycled in some way?
How? Will the product or its parts decompose if
buried in a landfill? What effects does disposing
of this product have on the environment? Who
pays for disposing of the product?  Who  is
responsible for disposing of it?
       Assessment  J
1.  Ask students how products are created.
2.  Ask students how this process impacts the
3.  Have students explain what happens to prod-
   ucts after we are finished with them.
4.  Ask students if they think we really need all
   of the products we use. Why or why not?
                                                  ^jy Enrichment J
1.  Contact or visit the manufacturer with your
   class to  learn more about the process and
   materials used to make the product.
2.  Ask students to name the different products
   they use during the course of a day (e.g.,
   toothbrush, shoe:;). Make a list of these items
   on the blackboard. Then, ask students to cat-
   egorize the product as essential to survival,
   necessary for living in today's society, or a  lux-
   ury. Ask  students if they are surprised how few
   products we really need and how many prod-
   ucts are a luxury.  Explain to students that all
   products create v/aste and that they should
   keep this in mind when they buy products.
3.  Check books, arHcles,  and magazines,  or
   write to  agencies or organizations to learn
   about the types of natural resources (e.g.,
   wood, oil) that the United States obtains
   from other countries. Research whether these
   are renewable or nonrenewable resources.
   Describe what might happen  if we  begin to
   use up these resources. What can we do to
   conserve these resources?
(Jnit 1. Chapter 1.2. Products
                              The Quest for Less


         Name of Product.
      Product Parts
Raw Materials Osed
Original Resources
The Quest for Less
                      Unit 1, Chapter 1.2. Products     3 7


                                                                                      Grades 4-8
       Objective J
To teach students how to identify and evaluate the envi-
ronmental attributes of products and assess their
environmental impacts.
       Activity Description J
Research products that students buy and discuss their
environmental attributes.
        Materials Needed J
   Five products with environmental claims on labels (e.g., a cereal
   box made with recycled content, an aluminum can with a recy-
   clable symbol, a cleaning product marked "biodegradable").
   Product Review Worksheet (one for each student).
   EPA's Let's Go Green Shopping brochure located at
   . To
   order copies of this brochure, please visit
   call EPA at (800) 490-91 98 and reference document number
   EPA and the Federal Trade Commission's Environmental
   Marketing Claims brochure at .
                                                              Duration J
                                                              Key Vocabulary Words J
                                                                recovered material
                                                               Life cycle
                                                               Environmental attribute
                                                               2 hours over two class-
                                                               room periods
                                                              Skills Used ]
                                                               Problem solving
         Activity J
Step 1: Bring in at least five products with
environmental claims (e.g., aluminum cans,
newspapers, paper towels) and examine them
with the class. List the attributes on the chalk-
board and discuss them (refer to the Teacher
Fact Sheet titled Buying Recycled on page
107). For example, many paper products  are
manufactured with environmental attributes
such as those  listed in the "Environmental
The Quest for Less
                                                 Environmental Attributes for
                                                 Preconsumer content
                                                 Postconsumer content
                                                 Recyclability of packaging
                                                 Recyclability of product
                                                 Reusability of item
                                              Attributes for Paper" sidebar. Use the EPA/FTC
                                              Environmental Marketing Claims brochure to
                                              teach students what different labels mean
                                                                        Unit 1, Chapter 1.2. Products

                 Journal Activity J
           Have students keep a journal of
           everything they buy in a week or
           on one trip to the mall (including
            food). Ask them to examine the
           purchases and think of ways to
          reduce waste on future shopping
          trips (e.g., take a reusable bag for
          carrying purchases, buy in bulk to
              reduce packaging waste).
          (e.g., all natural, recycled-content percentages,
          .biodegradable). Discuss product manufacturing
          (refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled Products
          on page 25 and its potential impact on the
          environment. Discuss how changing some of the
          practices involved in product manufacturing can
          increase or diminish a product's environmental
          impact over its life cycle (refer to A Product's Life
          on page 43).

          Step 2:  Divide into groups or  have each stu-
          dent choose one product (from home or school)
          that could  possess environmental attributes
          (e.g., binders with recycled-content plastic cov-
          ers, paper clips with recovered plastic,
          energy-efficient computer). Have the students
          research his or her  product (e.g., read product
          literature/labels, contact the company, Web
          research, visit a store that sells the  product).
          Give students copies of the Product Review
          Worksheet and instruct them to answer the
          questions while researching.

          Step 3:  After students conduct and compile
          their research,  have a class discussion where
          students report their results (discuss more than
          one product at a time if several students chose
          similar items. On the chalkboard, list the envi-
          ronmental  attributes each person discovered.
          Discuss which products are the most environ-
          mentally sound and why. Point out that attributes
          can vary depending on local, personal, and
          other circumstances. For instance, if the students
          live in a desert community, products that con-
          serve water might be most important to them.
                                                             ^Assessment  J
                                               1. Ask students to think about their shopping
                                                  habits. Before today's lesson, ask them if
                                                  they consider environmental attributes when
                                                  purchasing products. After the lesson, ask
                                                  them if they will in the future. Discuss what
                                                  kinds of attributes they will pay the most
                                                  attention to and ^hy.

                                               2. Ask students to suggest environmental attrib-
                                                  utes to consider when purchasing some
                                                  products other than those already researched
                                                  "(e.g., beverages, paint, food items).
                                               V| ^ Enrichment J
                                               1. Have students conduct a "mall scavenger
                                                  hunt" to search for "green" products and/or
                                                  the sustainable  practices of stores or the mall
                                                  (e.g., recycling bins). While on the scavenger
                                                  hunt, students can take note of:
                                               •  Stores that sell products with environmental
                                                  attributes (e.g.,  bags with recycled  content,
                                                  biodegradable beauty products).
                                               •  Recycling containers available for mall cus-
                                               •  Store and/or mall managers who are knowl-
                                                  edgeable about recycling, waste reduction,
                                                  and green products.
                                               2. Instruct students to select one  of the products
                                                  examined in this activity and create a
                                                  detailed lifecycle flow chart of the steps
                                                  involved in  manufacturing, use, or disposal
                                                  of the item  (refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet
                                                  titled Products or page 25 and A Product's
                                                  Life on page 43).
                                               3. Have students write and design a marketing
                                                  brochure or public service announcement
                                                  (refer to the Memorable Media Messages
                                                  activity on page 215) that emphasizes a
                                                  product's environmental attributes. Instruct
                                                  students to  develop the brochure targeting
                                                  consumers. The brochures should explain
                                                  why a consumer might purchase this item
                                                  over a competing company's  product.
                                                  Students should pay special attention  to the

Unit 1. Chapter 1.2. Products
The Quest tor Less

   guidelines outlined by EPA and
   the FTC in the Environmental
   Marketing Claims brochure.
4. Students can hold an open
   house to showcase the items
   they purchased. They can cre-
   ate a display of the "green"
   products and  set it up either in
   the classroom  or elsewhere in
   the school. Suggest placing an
   index card or small piece of
   posterboard next to each prod-
   uct explaining  the
   environmental attributes it con-
5. Students can hold an "eco"
   fashion show for their class-
   mates or the whole school.
   They can create outfits by sup-
   plementing the items  they found
   while shopping with used cloth-
   ing from thrift shops.  Suggest that
   they present the clothing and accessories in
   a live fashion  show format or museum-type
   display (e.g., using mannequins, hangers).
6. Have students  conduct research and write a
   report about a "green" company or a specif-
   ic "green" product.

7. Have students  write letters to companies.
   They can either write  to ask a company why
   they do not sell/design green products, or
   they can thank a company for selling sustain-
   able products.
                                                Part of an eco-fashion show of reused clothing from thrift shops at a
                                                Pennsylvania middle school.

                                                           8. All toilet paper contains a percentage of
                                                              recycled paper, but only some companies
                                                              advertise this fact. Have students compare
                                                              packaging for five different toilet paper
                                                              brands to determine how many  advertise that
                                                              the paper is made  from recycled content and
                                                              how many do not.  Write a letter to the com-
                                                              panies that do not  advertise the recycled
                                                              content of their toilet paper, asking them why
                                                              they choose not to  promote this fact.

           The Qciest for Less
                                                                        Unit 1. Chapter 1.2. Products

       Product  Review Worksheet
1. List the environmental attrib-
 utes of your product.
   . Are there any brands of your
  product that advertise environ-
 mental attribute claims? If so, how
many different brands are available?
3. Which brand offers more
 environmental attributes?
                                   different brands?
                                  ferences are
                                                                       5. What attributes do you
                                                                       think are the most important
                                                                      and which products have those
                                     6. Why did you choose to pur-
                                     chase your product?
                                                                       7. Whether your product is an
                                                                        electronic or not, list some actions^
                                                                       you can take to recycle electronics.

                                                                                    Grades 7-8
       "Product'*  Iiife
       Objective J
To teach students the concept of product life cycles,
including the various steps and  related environmen-
tal issues involved.
       Activity Description J
Using the Life Cycle of a CD or DVD and/or Life Cycle of a
Cell Phone or other life cycle posters as an example of a
product life cycle, students research the steps involved in a
product's life cycle and present their findings to the class.
        Materials Needed  J
   The Life Cycle of a CD or DVD poster and/or The Life Cycie of
   a Cell Phone poster located at  and . To order copies of these materi-
   als, please visit  or call EPA at (800) 490-9198 and reference
   document numbers EPA530-H-03-002 and EPA530-H-04-002.
   Index cards.
   Library, computer/Internet access, EPA's Lef's Go Green Shopping
   Guide (available at  or order online at ), or other sources of research.
   For enrichment activity:
   •  Scissors
   •  Markers
   •  Heavy-duty (cardstock) paper
               Key Vocabulary Words J

               "Cradle to Grave"
               Life cycle
               Remanufactured products
               Recovered materials
               Virgin resources
               (natural resources)
                                                             Duration J
                Day 1:  1.5 hours
                Day 2:  1  hour
Skills Used }
               Motor Skills
       Activity J
Step  1: Introduce the concept of product life
cycles.  (Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheets, titled
Products on page 25 and Natural Resources
on page 5; the Let's Go Eco-Shopping activity
The Quest for Less
on page 39; the information on the Life Cycle
of a CD or DVD and/or Life Cycle of a Cell
Phone poster; and EPA's Lef's go Green
Shopping Guide.) Start by giving a general
overview of life cycles, and relate this concept
to something familiar to the students (e.g., o'ur
own lives,  the life cycle of a tree). Continue by
explaining that all products are made of some-
thing that ultimately comes from nature; and

                         Unit 1, Chapter 1.2. Products

         that all products end up somewhere after we are
         finished using them.

         Step 2: Move on to more in-depth discus-
         sions of the various steps of a  product's life
         cycle.  Be sure to define each step: raw materials
         acquisition/extraction,  materials processing,
         manufacturing, product packaging, distribution,
         use (lifespan), and end use (reuse, recycling,
         disposal). Discuss how each of these steps can
         have environmental consequences.

         Step 3: Investigate the life cycle of an every-
         day item.  Have the class select one or two
         products whose life cycles they would like to
         research.  Choose a common product, such as
         one used  often in class or at home. (For exam-
         ple: calculator, radio, remote control, light bulb,
         pencil sharpener, computer keyboard or mouse.)

         Step 4: Divide the class into research teams
         for each item chosen. As a homework assign-
         ment or an  in- class activity, have students work
         in groups of three or four individuals to research
         an individual step of the chosen product's life
         cycle.  Students can use the library, Internet, and
         other resources, including those listed on the
         Teacher Fact Sheets in  this binder.
          Step 5:  Direct the students to use their find-
          ings to organize a short presentation to the
          class. Give each group a  handful of index cards
          on which they can write down notes. Have each
          group give an oral presentation to the entire
          class on what they discovered through their
          research. Be sure to only discuss one product's
          life cycle at a time and have the groups present
          in the proper order of the steps of a  life cycle
          (i.e.,  materials extraction,  then processing, then
          manufacturing, etc.). Encourage the  students to
          be creative, including using props or other visu-
          al means of  presenting their information.
       Assessment J
 .  Oral presentations can be judged and grad-
   ed on the following criteria:

   •  Comprehension of life cycle concept and
      comprehension of individual step in the
      life cycle.
   •  Effectiveness of presentation
   •  Creativity
   •  Completeness
   •  Research method and sources
   •  Ability to work in a group
   Ask the students  if knowing more about a
   product's life  cycle might affect their decision
   to buy the product. Discuss the choices we
   have as consumers. (Refer to the Let's  Go
   Eco-Shopp/ng activity on page 39 for more
   ^ Enrichment  J
1.  Compare the lifespan of various products
   and how this relates to product life cycles.
   For example, compare the environmental
   impacts of various types of cameras (dispos-
   able vs. traditional film vs. digital) as they
   relate to product life cycles. Include a discus-
   sion of the advantages/disadvantages of
   each product option.
2.  Using the same groups created for the main
   activity,  create a graphic display of the cho-
   sen product's life  cycle.
   a. Have each group of students create a
      graphic display of their step of the life
      cycle. Encourage the students to be cre-
      ative but  ask that each display indicates
      movement from one step of the life cycle
      to the next.
   b. After each team gives their oral presenta-
      tion, have the  class work together to
      display the final product in sequential
      order along the walls of the room, in the
      hallway, or a similar appropriate space.
      (The end  result may look similar to  The
      Life Cycle of a CD or DVD poster when

          Unit 1, Chapter 1.2. Products
                               The Quest tor Less


                                5< i»-i

Grade  • Subject  • Skills  Index
                         Beware of
                         Mr. Yuk
Trash Art
Weigh Your
Trash Time
Waste Not


         Language Arts
         Social Studies


         Problem Solving
         Motor Skills

             Glossary of Skills for more details.
    Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste
                                             The Quest for Less

     Solid  Waste
                                                             leacher fact  $heet
     What Is Solid Waste?
     Everyone produces solid waste (otherwise
     known as trash or garbage), whether it is old
     newspapers, potato chip bags, shampoo bot-
     tles, cut grass, food scraps from the dinner
     table, old appliances, or even the kitchen sink.
     Each person in the United States generates 4.5
     pounds (EPA, 2003) of solid waste each day,
     which is often  collected by a municipality and is
     known as municipal solid waste. This kind of
     waste primarily comes from people's homes,
     but it also comes from some factories, busi-
     nesses, and schools.

     As our population has grown, so  has the num-
     ber of products we use and  the total amount of
     solid waste we generate. Consequently, the
     composition of garbage continues to change
     with more plastics, more office paper, and less
     glass filling up trash cans around the country.
     The chart below illustrates the different compo-
     nents of municipal solid waste.

     How Do We Manage Solid Waste?
     No single method can manage all our nation's
     garbage. The U.S. Environmental  Protection
Municipal Solid Waste Composition
Metals: 7.9%
(18.1  million tons)
  3.2 million tons)
   Food Scraps: 1 1.4%
   (22.1 million tons)
Glass: 5.5%       Other: 3.4%
(12.6 million tons)   (4.2 million tons)
              Paper and  \
              Cardboard: I
              35.7% (81.91
              million tons)/
     The Quest for Less
  Key Point*
  •  Americans generate about f .5 pounds
     of garbage per person each day. which
     amounts to more than 220 million tons
     per year.
  •  EPA advocates a solid waste hierarchy.
     organizing waste management options
     in order of preference: source reduc-
     tion, recycling and composting, and
     combustion and landf illing.
  •  Facing a variety of challenges-f roro rising
     waste generation rates and costs to
     closing disposal facilities-community lead-
     ers and businesses are devising ways to
     prevent waste and increase efficiency.

Agency (EPA) recommends the use of a "waste
management hierarchy," which ranks methods of
waste management in order of  preference.
Although mentioned briefly here, each method is
explained in separate fact sheets. Please refer to
these other fact sheets for more information
regarding the benefits, challenges, trends, and
opportunities of each waste management system.
EPA's waste management hierarchy includes:

•  Source Reduction. Source reduction, also
   known as waste prevention, is the preferred
   method of waste management because the
   best way to manage  garbage is to prevent it
   in the first place. As the name implies, this
   method prevents waste at the source by
   decreasing consumption and reusing products.
   For example, using a durable cloth lunch  bag
   or reusing the same  brown paper bag instead
   of a new brown paper bag each day prevents
   waste. It also includes using nonhazardous
   substitutes as an alternative to toxic products
   that could end up in  the waste stream. For
   example, using baking soda to clean kitchen
   and bathroom counters rather than a chemical
   detergent prevents the disposal of toxins.
                                                           Unit 1, Chapter 1.3, Waste

         Household Hazardous Waste
         Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic,
         ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered "household
         hazardous waste." Examples of products that could become
         household hazardous waste include certain ceaning  products,
         pesticides, motor oil, oil paints, adhesives, and batteries.

         Unlike municipal solid waste, special care  must be taken in
         disposing of household hazardous waste to minimize the
         impact on human health and the environment.

         The best ways to reduce the amound of household hazardous
         waste being disposed  of are to use up all of the products or
         share them with someone else until they  are usi
         erly recycle them.
up or prop-
         If you are unsure of what to do with these products, contact
         your local environmental or solid waste agency.
                            • Recycling, including
                            Composting. If waste can-
                            not be prevented, the next
                            best way to reduce the vol-
                            ume of it that must be
                            disposed is to recycle or
                            compost it. Recycling refers
                            to a series of activities
                            where discarded  materials
            are collected, sorted, processed, converted
            into raw materials, and used to make new
            products. Composting is the decomposition
            of organic materials such as yard trimmings
            and food scraps by microorganisms. The
            byproduct of this process is compost—a  soil-
            like material rich in nitrogen and carbon that
         can be used as a plant fertilizer
         supplement. Both of these process-
         es use waste as a raw material to
         create new and valuable products.

         •  Disposal: Combustion and
         Landfills. Trash that cannot be
         reduced, recycled, or composted
         must be disposed of. Combustion
         is the burning of waste in specially
         designed facilities often called
         incinerators. It reduces the  bulk of
         waste, and some facilities provide
         the added benefit of energy recov-
         ery ("waste-to-energy" facilities).
         Landfills are also major compo-
         nents of waste management. A
         landfill is a large area of land or
         an excavated site that receives
         waste. Combustion facilities and
       landfills are subject to environmental
controls that require them to  be properly
maintained so there is no waste run-off that
might contaminate drinking water supplies.
The portion of waste requiring combustion
and land disposal can be significantly
reduced by reducing, reusing, or recycling—
the "3 Rs" of solid waste management.
     What Are the Benefits
     of Waste Management?
     It might seem hard to believe now, but people
     once dumped trash out windows onto the
     streets, left it in locol ravines or quarries, or
     burned it in fields and open dumps. In fact,
     throughout time, people have made garbage
     "go away" in different ways, regardless of envi-
     ronmental or aesthetic impacts. As one can
     imagine, these activities created serious sanita-
     tion problems for a community. Open dumps
     produced noxious odors, attracted rodents and
     pests that spread disease, and polluted drinking
     water supplies.

     Federal, state, and local laws now control how
     solid waste is managed and disposed of. These
     regulations set standards for trash disposal. As a
     result of regulations, many communities have
     state-of-the-art landfills and combustion facilities
     that minimize ground-  and surface-water con-
     tamination and air pollution. At the same time,

         Unit 1, Chapter 1.3, Waste
                                    The Quest for Less

they provide a safe and convenient way to
remove trash from homes and neighborhoods.

Waste management can also create jobs and
provide an economic boost to some cities and
counties. Whether workers are collecting garbage,
constructing disposal facilities, managing recycling
programs, or developing new technologies, the
waste management industry employs hundreds of
thousands of people nationwide.
What Are the Challenges of Solid
Waste Management?
Despite the improvements that have been made
to solid waste landfills and combustion facilities
over the years, the general public still does not
want to live near a disposal facility. With varying
public opinion and the Not in My Backyard
(NIMBY) mentality, community leaders often find
it difficult to find new sites for waste manage-
ment facilities.
 Balancing all of the management options in the
 solid waste hierarchy can be a major challenge.
 Many communities have invested resources in
 source reduction and recycling in an effort to
 reduce the amount of trash that must be land-
 filled or combusted. Yet reducing waste
 ultimately involves changing behaviors—
 purchasing environmentally friendly products
  HHW  Facts
  •  The average home may have up to 1 00
     pounds of household hazardous waste stored
     throughout the house.
  •  Americans generate 1.6 million tons of
     household hazardous waste each year.
when possible, and participating in recycling
and composting  programs.
What Are Some Emerging
Communities continue to seek ways to reduce
waste. One recent trend is to charge residents for
garbage collection services based on the amount
of trash they throw away, known as "Pay-As-You-
Throw" (PAYT). By
paying for garbage
services in the same
way as electricity,
water, and other utili-
ties, residents have a
direct incentive to
reduce the amount of
trash they generate
and to recycle more.
        Visit the following Web sites for more information on municipal solid waste:

        •   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
        •   U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on municipal solid waste:
        •   U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery publications on household hazardous waste:

        To order the following additional documents on municipal solid waste, call EPA toll-free at
        (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site .

        •   Municipal Solid Waste: Facfs and Figures
        •   Sites for our Solid Waste: A Guidebook for Public Involvement (EPA530-SW-90-019)
        •   A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM
The Quest tor Less
                          Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste



Hazardous  Waste
                                                       teacher fact  $heet
What Is Hazardous Waste?
Many of the appliances, products, and materials
used in everyday life are manufactured using
processes that create hazardous waste. From the
paint on your walls, to the components of your
car, to the shingles on your house, it is likely that
when these products were made, some haz-
ardous waste was generated. Hazardous wastes
are substances that exhibit one or more of the
following characteristics:

•  Toxicily—harmful or fatal when ingested or

•  Ignitability—creates fire under certain condi-
   tions or spontaneously combusts.

•  Corrosivity—contains acids or bases that can
   corrode metal.

•  Reactivity—is unstable under "normal" condi-
   tions and can cause explosions, toxic fumes, or
   vapors when mixed with water.

Hazardous waste is created by a variety of
different industries, such as petroleum refining
and pesticide, chemical,  ink, paint, and paper
manufacturing. It also is created by the activities
of certain smaller businesses found in many
communities, such as dry cleaners, vehicle
maintenance shops, vocational schools, and
photoprocessing stores.  In addition, hazardous
waste is created when businesses or facilities
dispose of certain unused products.

Hazardous waste is an inevitable product of a
thriving industrial society.  It is important to  be
aware that the choices consumers make when
selecting products, services, and materials  have
hidden environmental effects. Consumers also
should realize that the management of hazardous
waste is regulated by law and that facilities that
produce, transport, or dispose of it  must follow
very specific rules to minimize environmental and
human health problems. The primary law that
The Quest tor Less
  Key Pointjs
  •  Hazardous waste can be produced in
     the manufacturing process of many
     common products people use every day,
     as well as many common services.
  •  To protect human health and the envi-
     ronment hazardous waste is regulated
     from the time it is produced to the time
     it is disposed of.
governs the proper management of hazardous
waste is known as the Resource Conversation
and Recovery Act (RCRA).
How Do We Manage Hazardous
The RCRA regulations cover all aspects of haz-
ardous waste—from the time it is generated at a
factory or plant until the time it is discarded.
This is known as "cradle to grave." This regu-
latory system includes many detailed rules that
require hazardous waste to be tracked as it
                         Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste

"Hazardous Waste" Versus "Household  Hazardous Waste"
"Hazardous waste" is regulated by EPA. Businesses, institutions, or other facilities (sometimes including
schools) that generate it must comply with certain rules regarding generatioh, management, trans-
portation, and disposal.

When individuals dispose of household products from their home that contain hazardous ingredients,
such as pesticides, cleaners, batteries, or used oil, they create what is known as household hazardous
waste.  Individuals usually produce much less hazardous waste than businesses and other facilities,
and they are not regulated  by EPA. Even so, many communities require or prefer that household haz-
ardous waste is  handled separately from the regular garbage to  prevent any potential risks to the
environment or human health.

When disposing of household hazardous waste from your home, remember)the following:

•  Sharing  leftover household products is a great way for people to use all  of a product and avoid
   disposal. If you cannot share or donate leftover products, check with your local environmental or
   solid waste agency to see if your community has a facility that collects  household hazardous
   wastes year-round or offers opportunities for exchanging products with cfrier residents.
•  If your community doesn't have a collection program for household hazardous waste, contact your
   local environmental or solid waste agency to  see if there are  any designated days in your area for
   collecting these materials. On  such days, qualified professionals collect household hazardous
   waste at a central location to ensure safe management and disposal.
•  If your community has neither a permanent collection site nor a special Collection day, you might
   be able  to drop off certain products, such as  batteries, paint, or automotive supplies, at local
   businesses for recycling  or proper disposal. Call your local environmental or solid waste agency or
   Chamber of Commerce for information.
•  Some communities allow dispose  of household hazardous waste in trasb as a last resort. Call
   your local environmental or solid waste agency for instructions on propelr disposal. Be sure to read
   the product label for disposal directions to reduce the risk of  products  e>ploding, igniting, leaking,
   mixing with other chemicals, or posing other hazards on the way to a di  posal facility. Even empty
   containers of household hazardous waste can pose hazards due to residue.

moves from place to place; one of the rules
requires the use of a tracking paper known as a
"manifest." This paper must travel with the waste
wherever it goes (e.g., wherever it is stored,
shipped, recycled, or disposed of).

Depending on how much waste a facility gener-
ates, it is regulated  differently; bigger facilities
that produce a  large amount of hazardous
waste each month  have more rules than those
that produce a  small amount of waste.

After a company or factory generates hazardous
waste, the waste must be packaged and labeled
in special containers, and  it must be transported
by a regulated hazardous transportation compa-
ny in special packages with specific labels.
These trucks often can be identified on the high-
way by multicolored placards and symbols that
indicate the type of hazardous waste they carry.
The Department of Transportation is responsible
for regulating these trucks.

Hazardous waste is usually transported to a facil-
ity that treats, stores, and/or disposes of it. Most
hazardous waste must be specially treated with
certain processes to alter its hazardous composi-
tion before it can safely be recovered, reused, or
disposed of. Sometimes waste is stored tem-
porarily in a regulated  unit. When the waste is

Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste
                               The Quest for Less

ultimately disposed of, it is transported either to
a landfill or special combustion facility (see
Teacher Fact Sheets titled Landfills on page 1 65
and Combustion on page 169). Combustion
facilities must take special precautions to prevent
air pollution, and they must ensure that only
appropriate wastes are burned.

Sometimes hazardous waste is transported to
a facility that recycles  hazardous waste.
Certain hazardous  wastes can  be recycled and
used again. For example, many solvents can
be recovered,  some metals can be reclaimed,
and certain fuels can be re-blended.
Hazardous waste recycling is regulated under
RCRA to ensure the protection of human
health  and the environment.

To keep track.of all  of the facilities that treat,
store, or dispose of hazardous waste and ensure
that they follow the  rules, EPA and many states
have a permitting system. Each company must
obtain  a permit, which tells companies what
they are allowed and not allowed to do.
Inspectors  check these facilities regularly by
reviewing company records, observing operating
procedures, and sometimes collecting haz-
ardous waste samples. For further tracking
purposes,  EPA  also  requires all companies that
generate hazardous waste to register and obtain
an EPA identification number.
What Are the Benefits of
Hazardous Waste Management?
Before RCRA took effect in  1970, companies
could—and did—dispose of hazardous waste in
rivers, streams, and other inappropriate places.
By enforcing strict rules about the way waste is
handled,  EPA and other agencies can better
control the effects of hazardous waste on the
environment and human health. These controls,
while not always perfect, allow the industrial
production on which we all depend to continue
in as safe a manner as possible.

In addition, EPA has made waste minimization
practices  and pollution  prevention activities key
requirements for companies that produce haz-
ardous waste. Any company that creates a
The Quest for Less
   Hazardous Waste Facts
   •  In 2001, companies produced 40.8
      million tons of hazardous waste.
                             3s generated
      hazardous waste in 2001
   •  Many hazardous wastes can be generated
      in schools, such as solvents from cleaning,
      chemicals from chemistry labs, fluorescent
      light bulbs, computer monitors, and chemi-
      cal residues from woodshops.
   (Source: EPA National Biennial RCRA Hazardous
   Waste Report [2001 Data])
certain amount of hazardous waste each
month must sign a statement indicating that it
has a program  in place to reduce both the
amount and toxicity of its hazardous waste.
These companies also must indicate that they
have chosen a method of hazardous waste
treatment, storage, or disposal that minimizes
the present and future threat to human health
and the environment.

It can be difficult for individuals to identify com-
panies that have taken substantial measures to
minimize hazardous waste and prevent  pollu-
tion, and thus, it is not always possible to lend
support for these activities by patronizing those
companies. When information of this sort is
available, however, consumer demand can
make a difference.
                          Unit 1, Chapter 1.3. Waste
i j

                                               What Are the Challenges of
                                               Hazardous Waste Management?
                                               Just as people and communities generally do
                                               not want municipal solid waste facilities in their
                                               neighborhoods, they often do not want haz-
                                               ardous waste facilities near their homes and
                                               schools (the NIMBY mentality). When new haz-
                                               ardous waste generation or treatment facilities
                                               are sited near communities, the public can
                                               become involved  in the process, but it can be a
                                               challenge for companies and communities to
                                               achieve mutually  acceptable solutions.

                                               The RCRA regulations allow the public to have
                                               an opportunity to participate in decisions about
                                               hazardous waste  mcnagement. Through public
                                               meetings and other open forums, people can
                                               express their concerns about a new facility.

Additional Information Resources:
Visit the following Web sites for more information on hazardous waste:

•  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  
•  U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on hazardous waste:

To order the following additional documents on hazardous waste, call EPA toll-f'ee at (800) 490-9198
or look on the EPA Web site .

•  The RCRA Public Participation Manual (EPA530-R-96-007)
•  RCRA Orientation Manual
•  RCRA: Reducing Risk From Waste (EPA530-K-97-004)
Unit 1. Chapter 1.3, Waste
The Quest for Less

                                                                               Grades  K-1
Beware of Mr. Yufcf
       Objective J
               Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students to recognize the "Mr. Yuk" symbol; to
help students understand that this symbol designates
hazardous household products that should not be han-
dled by children without adult supervision and without
reading labels properly.
       Activity Description J
Students will identify Mr. Yuk stickers in the hidden
picture and color them in bright green to signify
       Materials Needed J
   One copy of the Beware of Mr. Yuk worksheet per
   One red or green  crayon for each student
   (Preferably from the fluorescent color box)

               30 minutes

               Skills Used )

               Motor skills
       Activity J
Step 1: Put an enlarged picture of Mr. Yuk
on the blackboard and ask students if they've
seen it before. Elicit from students how they
would describe Mr. Yuk.

Step 2: Tell the students they will be given a
drawing  of a house.  In the picture are many
products commonly found in homes, and they
will have to find the ones with a Mr. Yuk face
on them. Explain that if they were to find a
real product in their real home with a Mr. Yuk
face on it, they should not touch it; they
should tell an adult about it. Ask them where
Mr. Yuk products are sometimes located in  a
home (e.g., kitchen, bathroom, garage).
Step 3: Distribute crayons and worksheets
to students and ask them to color only the Mr.
Yuk stickers on the products they see. Students
can work individually or in groups.

Step 4: After coloring the Mr. Yuk stickers,
students can color the entire scene.
 Mr. Yuk Stickers
 Teachers who wish to promote the use of Mr.
 Yuk stickers at home could consider sending a
 note to parents indicating where stickers can
 be obtained. Most local poison control centers
 have Mr. Yuk stickers available.
The Quest for Less
                          Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste

         1.  Collect the Beware of Mr. Yuk worksheets
            and assess whether students correctly identi-
            fied products labeled with Mr. Yuk.
         2.  Ask students what they would do if they
            found a Mr. Yuk sticker in their homes.
         3.  Ask students why certain  products get labeled
            with Mr. Yuk stickers.
                                                            ^ Enrichment  J
                                         1. Conduct a role-playing game by putting a
                                           Mr. Yuk sticker on an empty product contain-
                                           er and asking students to pretend they come
                                           upon it in their homes. Have one or more
                                           students pretend that they are parents and
                                           are telling the "kids" about the Mr.  Yuk stick-
                                           er and its importance.
                                         2. Ask students to draw places in their homes
                                           where Mr. Yuk products might be found
                                           (kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc.)

                                       Mr. Yuk is reprinted with permission, Children's Hospital of
                                       Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
         Unit 1, Chapter 1.3. Waste
                                                                       The Quest for Less

                      Beware of Mr. Yuk
The Quest for Less
Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste


                                                                                  Grades K-3
       Objective J
To encourage students to think about what kinds of
materials they throw away.
                Key Vocabulary Words J
       Activity Description  J
Students will create a trash mural from collected pieces
of home garbage and images of disposable items from
                1  hour
       Materials Needed J
   One copy of Parents' Note for each student
   One tarp or drop cloth
   1 0 to 12 magazines (with lots of everyday product
   "Clean" garbage (brought in by students)
   Art supplies (enough for class):
    - Three to four sheets of colored construction
      paper per student
    - Glue
    - Tape
    - Scissors
    - Markers or crayons
   — Glitter
               Skills Used )

                Motor skills
       Activity J
Step  1: Photocopy and send students home
with the Parents' Note, which asks them to
help the students collect two pieces of "clean"
garbage for class the next day.

Step  2: Lead students in a discussion of
what garbage is and where it comes from. Ask
them if they know how to identify garbage.

Step  3: Lay a tarp on the floor and have
the students sit in a circle around it. Ask them
to spread out their pieces of garbage on the
tarp. Go around the room and ask each stu-
dent to describe what kind of garbage they
brought in.  Explore how students knew the
item was garbage and what its purpose  was
before it became garbage.  Encourage the stu-
dents to compare and contrast the shapes,
colors, and  sizes of the garbage on the  tarp.

Step 4: Divide the class into pairs and  distrib-
ute a magazine and scissors to each pair
(teachers should use their judgement about the
use of scissors for younger students). Tell the stu-
The Quest for Less
                           Unit 1, Chapter 1.3. Waste

          dents to look for pictures of objects or products
          that are only used once and then thrown away.
          Ask the students to cut out as many of these
          objects as they can. Go around the room to dis-
          cuss what pictures were chosen and why.

          Step  5:  Distribute the rest of the art supplies.
          The art exercise for this activity can be conduct-
          ed in many different ways; below are a few
          age-specific suggestions:

          For younger students:
          •  Instruct students to use their magazine pic-
             tures and trash objects to make a collage by
             gluing them onto the  construction paper.
             Help all of the students tape their construc-
             tion paper up on the classroom wall to form
             a colorful trash mural.
          •  Have students organize their trash in terms  of
             color or size. Help students decide where each
             piece of garbage should go on the mural so
             that alike items are grouped together.

          For older students:
          •  Have students make a trash rainbow by
             organizing the trash into rainbow colors.
             Students could draw the outline of the rain-
             bow on the paper first, then paste their trash
             in the appropriate color band on the mural.
          •  Have students design a 3-D trash sculpture.
             Ask them to think about the color and shape
             of each trash item before gluing  it onto the
          •  Have students organize the trash by the
             purpose it had during  its useful life. For
             example: was it a product or packaging for
             a product? A cleaning product, food prod-
             uct, or  hair product? Ask  students to write
             down category names on the mural and then
             paste their trash in the appropriate spot.
                                                       Assessment J
                                                1. Ask students to name three different items that
                                                  they or their family members often throw away.
                                                2. Have the students guess how many pieces of
                                                  trash are on the class trash mural.  Discuss
                                                  with students thot the mural is just a small
                                                  amount  of what gets thrown away every day
                                                  in the world.

                                                3. Ask students what purpose the trash served
                                                  during its useful life. Ask them what it was
                                                  before it became trash.
                                                   ^ Enrichment J
                                                1.  Conduct a followup activity on what happens
                                                   to garbage after it's thrown in the trash can.
                                                   This resource offers the following activities:
                                                   Luscious Layered Landfill on page 1 73 (for
                                                   younger students;) or A Landfill Is No Dump!
                                                   on page 1 77 (for older students).
                                                2.  Take a field trip to a waste disposal site (a
                                                   landfill or incinerator) to find  out where
                                                   waste goes. See the Teacher Fact Sheets
                                                   titled Landfills on  page 1 65 and Combustion
                                                   on page 169 for background information.
                                                3.  For grades 2-3, enrich the activities by doing
                                                   the following:
                                                •   After students hove brought in pieces of
                                                   trash, ask them 1o separate the  items into the
                                                   following categories: paper, metal, food,
                                                   glass, plastic. Discuss whether these items
                                                   need to be throv/n away or whether they can
                                                   be reused or recycled.

                                                •   Have students determine how much of each
                                                   category of trash  items they have collected.
                                                   Draw a trash can on the chalkboard and
                                                   have students come up and use a different
                                                   color piece of chalk to make  hash marks (in
                                                   the "trash can") for each type  of trash item

Unit 1, Chapter 1.3, Waste
The Quest for Less

            Parents' Note
            Dear Parent,

            Tomorrow we are undertaking an environmental education activity to
            learn more about how much garbage we create and what we do with it. I
            have asked  each student to bring in two pieces of "clean" garbage for our
            trash mural. In the interest of safety and sanitation, I would appreciate your
            assistance in helping your child pick out two garbage items that are manage-
            able in size  and "clean" (no glass, jagged metal, food, or wet items). Good
            examples of "clean" garbage include: a cereal box, empty soda can, paper, plastic
            bag, wrapping, packaging, plastic juice bottle, etc.
            Thanks for your help!
            Parents' Note

            Dear Parent,

            Tomorrow we  are undertaking an environmental education activity to
            learn more about how much garbage we create and what we do with it. I
            have asked each student to bring in two pieces of "clean" garbage for our
            trash mural. In the interest of safety and sanitation, I would appreciate your
            assistance in helping your child pick out two garbage items that are manage-
            able in size and "clean" (no glass, jagged metal, food, or wet items). Good
            examples of "clean" garbage include: a cereal box, empty soda can, paper, plastic
            bag, wrapping, packaging, plastic juice bottle, etc.

            Thanks for your help!
            Parents' Note
            Dear Parent,

            Tomorrow we are undertaking an environmental education activity to
            learn more about how much garbage we create and what we do with it. I
            have asked each student to bring in two  pieces of "clean" garbage for our
            trash mural. In the interest of safety and sanitation, I would appreciate your
            assistance in helping your child  pick out two garbage items that are manage-
            able in size and "clean" (no glass, jagged metal, food, or wet items). Good
            examples of "clean" garbage include: a cereal box, empty soda  can, paper, plastic
            bag, wrapping, packaging, plastic juice bottle, etc.
            Thanks for your help!


                                                                               Grades 4-6
Weigh.  Your  Waste/
       Objective J
               Key Vocabulary Words J
To increase students' awareness of the amount of waste
they generate and the implication of that waste.
       Activity Description J
Students will collect, weigh, record, and analyze the
amount of trash they generate in the course of a week.
       Materials Needed J
   One trash bag per student
   One twist tie garbage bag fastener for each student
   One 3- by 5-inch note card per student
   One plastic tarp
   One set of gloves per student
   One scale
   One copy of My Trash Journal for each student
   Clear tape
               Per capita
               Duration J

               1 to 2 hours, with period
               ic discussions over the
               course of a week
                                                         Skills Used  )
               Problem solving
Step 1: Photocopy and distribute copies of
the My Trash Journal worksheet to each stu-
dent. Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Wasfes for background information.
Step 2: Distribute one garbage bag, one
twist tie,  and one note card to each student.
Tell students to take the trash bag to classes
for 1  week (5 days),  using it to collect all of
the "dry" garbage they throw away at school.
Instruct students to include all  of their used
containers, paper waste, and packaging, but
not to include food waste or any other type of
"wet" trash that might decompose or be
unsanitary. For safety reasons, instruct students
not to collect glass items either.
The Quest for Less
Step 3: Have the students put their names
on the note cards and tape them to the twist
ties (or use a hole-punch). Then have students
use the twist ties to  close their garbage  bags.
Explain that at the end of each day, students
will bring their garbage  bags back to the
classroom and store them  overnight in a des-
ignated spot (show  them the location). The
name tags will allow them to pick out their
trash bag the next morning.

Step 4: At the end of the week, ask the stu-
dents to predict how much their individual piles
weigh. Ask them to predict how much the total
pile of garbage for the whole class would weigh.
Write some of these  predictions on the board.
                          Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste

       Journal Activity J
Have students write a commer-
cial "jingle" asking people to
reduce the amount of waste
they generate.
Step  5: Bring in a tarp and spread it on the
floor. Have each student spread the contents of
his or her personal trash bag on the tarp. Have
the students put on gloves and sort their individ-
ual piles of garbage into as  many categories as
possible:  plastics, aluminum, paper, steel, and
mixed materials (those that fit into more than
one category). Have them record the contents of
their garbage piles using the My Trash Journal
Step  6: Have students weigh their individual
piles of garbage on a scale  and record the
amounts  on the chalkboard.

Step  7: Ask a student to total the weights of
each individual pile of garbage and put this
number on the chalkboard.  Determine the aver-
age weight of trash generated per student per
day. Compare these weights to the students'
Step  8: Write the  national average of waste
generation  on the board: 4.3 pounds per per-
son per day.

Ask the students to determine the following:

•  How much waste did the  class generate per
   day on average?  Is this higher or lower than
   the  national average?

•  If each person in  your community (popula-
   tion	) throws away	pounds (use the
   students' average calculated above) of
   garbage each day,  how many total  pounds
   of garbage are thrown away each day in
   your community?

•  How many tons is this? (To help children grasp
   the concept of a ton [2,000 pounds] you
   might want to ask them how many tons some
   familiar objects weigh, for example, an aver-
   age 4-door compact car weighs about a ton.)
                                                  ^Assessment J
1.  Ask the students why they think they generate
   so much trash. Is it more or less than they

2.  Ask the students if they were surprised at how
   much trash they generated. Where does all
   of this waste go every day? (See the  Teacher
   Fact Sheet titled Landfills on page 1 65 for
   background information.) Why should we
   care  how much we throw away?

3.  Ask students to look at their waste generation
   charts and think of ways they could have
   reduced the amount of garbage generated
   this week. (Could any items have been recy-
   cled or reused? What about using less in the
   first place? For example, bringing a reusable
   cloth lunch bag instead of a paper lunch bag
   each day.) Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheets
   titled Source Reduction on page 79, Recycling
   on page 101, and Composting on page  141
   for background information.
   ^ Enrichment J
1.  Have students identify the categories of
   materials they generally throw away or recy-
   cle. Make a list of common items on the
   board (recyclable and nonrecyclable). Ask
   students how much less waste they would
   have generated if they recycled instead of
   discarded all of "he recyclable materials they
   used this week.

2.  Have a student contact your state or munici-
   pal solid waste manager to find out about
   your community's trash generation rate. How
   does it compare to other communities in
   your county or state?  Discuss the results and
   reasons behind them with your students.

3.  Have students record  the amount of waste
   their families generate at home in 1 week (a
   note to parents explaining  the assignment
   might help). Suggest students weigh each   .
   bag of trash generated on a bathroom scale.


Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste
                              The Quest for Less

   Students should keep a log of these weights.
   At the end of the week, have students com-
   pare their data with classmates.

4. Either in class or as a homework assignment,
   ask the students to create graphs and charts
   of their data from class and home waste
   generation. The graphs might include:

   •  A pie chart of the number of pounds
      for each material measured for each

   •  After pairing up with a partner and com-
      paring notes, a bar graph of the number
      of pounds of each material for the two

   •  A bar graph and/or pie chart showing the
      amount of total materials collected that
      were recyclable versus not recyclable in
      your community.

   Discuss with  students which materials  were
   generated more than others and whether
   more recyclable or nonrecyclable materials
   were generated.

5. Take a field trip to a landfill or combustion
   facility so students can see what happens to
   their trash.

6. Partner with a local business to calculate how
   much waste the company generates in a
   given day by conducting an audit of the
   paper waste (or other dry waste) generated.

7. Get permission for your class to  sort through
   the school dumpster on a given  day (with
   appropriate safety equipment such as gloves
   and goggles) to weigh its amount and deter-
   mine how much useful or recyclable material
   is thrown out.

The Quest for Less
Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste

1 What Did 1 Throw Away?
I Example:
| 1 soda bottle
5 lunch bags

What Material Category Does it
Belong In? (Paper, Glass,
Aluminum, Steel, Plastic)

My Ideas for Using Less, Reusing, or Recycling this Item
1 could recycle this in bins outside my school.
\ could use a cloth lunch bag each day instead of using paper.



Total weight of my garbage for one week = [calculated in class]
Weight of
recydables =
[calculated in class]
Weight of nonrecydables =
[calculated in class] •
1 1
Total weight of my garbage per day = [calculated in class]
            Total weight of class garbage for one week = [calculated in class]
            Average amount of waste generated per student per day in our class = [calculated in class]
Unit 1, Chapter 1.3. Waste
                                                                                                The Quest for Less

                                                                                   Grades 4-6
To teach students how lifestyles change over time and
how these changes alter the production and manage-
ment of waste.
       Activity Description J
Students will interview adults, either at home or in the
community, to find out what people considered trash
years ago and  how that trash was handled.
       Materials Needed
   One copy of the Rubbish Reporter worksheet per student
   Brightly colored markers (one per student)
   One ball of string or twine
   One hole-punch
   One roll of masking tape
                Key Vocabulary Words J


                (this list will vary for each
                student's interview)
                Duration J
                2 hours over two class
                Skills Used  )

Step 1:  Photocopy and distribute the Rubbish
Reporter worksheets to each student. Conduct
an introductory discussion touching on the fol-
lowing topics (refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet
titled Solid Waste on page 47 for background
•  Discuss what the common components of
   our trash are today—list them on the board.

•  Ask students to think about how this list
   might differ from the trash list of a settler in
   colonial times, a farmer during the Great
   Depression, or a grandparent who lived
   through World War II.

•  Discuss how trash is disposed of today and
   ask students how they think people of other
   time periods disposed of trash.
Step  2: Inform students that they are now
"Rubbish Reporters." Their assignment is to
write a story about how different lifestyles in
different historical periods affected the gener-
ation and handling of trash.
Step  3: Have students take the Rubbish
Reporter worksheet home and use it to inter-
view at least two elderly family or community
members. Give students 2 or 3  days to com-
plete this assignment.
Step  4: Have students bring in their com-
pleted Rubbish Reporter worksheets and pick
one of their interviewees to focus on. As an in-
class assignment, have the students use their
completed worksheets to write a short para-
graph or "article" about what their interviewee
thought of "trash," how they disposed of trash,
and how those ideas and practices might dif-
fer from ours today. Instruct students to  mark
The Quest for Less
                            Unit 1. Chapter 1.3, Waste

               Journal Activity J
        Ask students to pretend that they
        are each of the following charac-
        ters: a pilgrim living in the 1500s, a
        professional (business person) living
        in the city today, and a grizzly bear
        living today in Yellowstone National
        Park. Have students write about
        what kinds of trash they generate
        as each of these characters. Ask
        them which character they think is
        most wasteful and why.
                                                              Assessment J
1.  Collect all of the students' Rubbish Reporter
   worksheets and articles and evaluate them
   for completeness, comprehension, and

2.  Ask students to offer an explanation of why
   trash and its management differs for each
   generation. Ask them to predict what trash
   will  be like in the future and what people wil
   do with trash 100 years from now.
3.  Have students list four ways in which trash
   management in ~he past differs from trash
   management today.

         (in the left-hand corner of the page) the year (or
         years) that their interviewee remembered or
         referred to during the interview.

         Step 5: Go around the room and have each
         student stand up and read his or her article out
         loud to the class. Discuss the issues, such as
         time period, geographical location, trash dispos-
         al, and recycling, that are raised in each article.

         Step 6: After discussing each article, have
         the. students determine its one aspect of trash
         disposal or management that is most unique.
         (For example, someone may have saved all
         metal for recycling during WW II or burned
         his/her own trash on a farm each day, etc.]
         Have the student write this one aspect with a
         colored marker at the top of his/her article.

         Step 7: Collect all of the articles and spread
         them  out on the floor.  Have the students help
         you organize them in a time line according to
         the years marked in the upper left-hand corner
         of the pages.

         Step 8: Using the hole-punch, put holes in
         the tops of each article and connect them using
         the string. Hang your "Trash Time line" some-
         where in the classroom or school.
                                                          ^ Enrichment J
1.  If there are one or two very interesting or
   unique trash stories that students bring in,
   ask those interviewees to come in and speak
   to the class more extensively about their rec-
   ollections. Have students prepare questions
   in advance to ask the guest speaker.
2.  Using the different time periods or locations
   that surface during the students' interviews,
   pick one or two for an in-depth  history and
   social studies lesson. Have students explore
   the setting of the time period, learn about
   the political and social events of that time,
   and investigate how these might  have affect-
   ed trash and its disposal.

         Unit 1, Chapter 1.3, Waste
                              The Quest for Less

  The  Rubbish  Reporter
           General Assignment: Ask your interviewee to pick a time in his/her past that is easy to recall in detail.
           Ask the interviewee to remember what he/she considered trash at that time (what was thrown out), how
           that trash was disposed of, where it was disposed of, and how all of these characteristics compare with
           today's ideas about trash and methods for handling trash.
           Rubbish Reporter's name:
                                                          ON THE
           Interviewee's name:
          What time period(s) does your interview cover?
          What geographical location?
           Interview Questions
           1. What time period are you going to talk about? How
              old were you then? What was your occupation (if you
              were old enough)?
                                                          2.   What were the most important
                                                            political and social events during the
                                                            time period you are remembering?
                 3. What did you consider trash when you
                    were younger? What kinds of things did
                    you throw out?

                                                     4. How was your trash handled? Was it
                                                        picked up, sent to a landfill, burned?
                                                        Who provided this service?

      Interview Questions (continued)

        5. Did you reuse or repair items? What kinds of items
           did you reuse? Did you recycle? What did you recy-
           cle? What were recyclables made into or used for?
                                                             6. Name some products that you
                                                                use today that were not available
                                                                to you then.

  7. What were many of your products (such
   as toys, food containers, or appliances) made
  of during this time period? Did you have a lot of
 plastic  products? Glass? Metal? How were they
                 Rubbish Reporter: Can you
                 think of any more questions
                    to ask?
                                               8. What was your attitude toward trash then?
                                                  Has it changed now?

                                                      9. Do you think we are more
                                                          wasteful as a society today?

                                                                             Grades 5-6
(Haxarctatf) Waste  If at
       Objective  J
To show students what could happen to ground water if
hazardous waste were not regulated.
       Activity Description J
Students will create an aquifer and demonstrate how
hazardous waste could seep into ground water.
       Materials Needed J
   Clear plastic cup for each student
   What's Going on Underground diagram for each
   Molding clay (enough for each student to have a
   '/2-inch by Vfe-inch square)
   One-quart container filled with sand
   Container of small  pebbles (enough for a '/2 cup
   for each student)
   Bucket of water and ladle
   Red food coloring
                                                        Key Vocabulary Words J
                                                         Hazardous waste
                                                         Ground water
                                                         Saturated zone
                                                         Water table
                                                         Surface water
                                                        Skills Used )
                                                         Motor skills
Step 1: Discuss with the class how ground
water is a major source of drinking water for
as much as half of the U.S. population.
Provide each student with the Whaf's Going
on Underground diagram and discuss how
ground water forms, exists, and can be
extracted. Review the vocabulary words and
definitions provided on the diagram. Explain
that it would be very easy to contaminate
ground water if hazardous waste were simply
dumped on the ground and absorbed by the
soil. Define and discuss hazardous waste.
(Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Hazardous Waste on page 51  for  background
The Quest for Less
                                          Step 2: Place the containers of pebbles,
                                          sand, and bucket of water with the ladle on a
                                          table in the classroom where each student can
                                          access them.

                                          Step 3: Pass out a plastic cup to each stu-
                                          dent. Ask the students to fill their cups half full
                                            RCRA and  Hazardous Waste
                                            In 1976, Congress passed the Resource
                                            Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
                                            to protect human health and the envi-
                                            ronment from the potential hazards of
                                            waste disposal. RCRA establishes a reg-
                                            ulatory system  for managing hazardous
                                            waste from generation until ultimate dis-
                                            posal ("cradle to grave").
                                                                    Unit 1. Chapter 1.3. Waste

                Journal Activity J
         Ask students to prepare questions
         and answers representing an inter-
         view with an animal, tree, flower, or
         other member of nature. Students
         should think about how elements in
         nature would "feel" about haz-
         ardous waste contamination in the
         environment Have them pretend they
         are reporters trying to discover
         how hazardous waste can affect
         the natural environment
         of small pebbles. In addition, give each student
         a Vfe-inch by '/2-inch piece of the molding clay.
         Ask the students to dump the pebbles on their
         desk and keep them there temporarily.

         Step 4: Ask each student to go to the sand
         container and scoop enough so that there is
         about 1/4-inch on the bottom of their cups.
         After they add the sand,  ask them to ladle just
         enough water into  the cup so that it is absorbed
         by  the sand. Discuss how the water is still  in the
         cup, but that it is being stored in the "ground."

         Step 5: Have each student flatten their clay in
         the shape of the cup bottom and then place it
         over the sand. Fasten the clay to one side of the
         cup, but leave an opening on the other side.
          Flatten clay
         in shape of cup
Leave opening
 on one side
   of clay
              Step 6: Ask each student to place their pile of
              pebbles into the cup, on top of the clay. They
              can place the pebbles so that they lay flat or
              form hills and valleys.

              Step 7: Ask the students to add a ladle full of
              water to their "aquifers." Students that formed
              hills and valleys with their  pebbles will see that
              they have surface water in addition to ground
              water, depending on how  much water they
              added to their cups. Discuss how both surface
              and ground water can  be  sources of drinking
              water and that some parts of the ground are
              more  porous than others (e.g., water slips more
              easily through the pebbles than the clay).
                Ground Water Contamination
                Ground water contamination can occur
                when liquids (usually rainwater) move
                through waste disposal sites, carrying pollu-
                tants with them, and into the ground water.
                RCRA regulations require ground water
                monitoring, which detects early signs of
                contaminants leaching from hazardous
                waste facilities.
Step 8: Tell the students to imagine that there
is a factory that produces "widgets" near their
aquifer. In the course of producing widgets, the
factory produces a hazardous waste byproduct.
Ask students to imagine that hazardous waste
regulations do not exist and that the factory is
allowed to dump its hazardous waste on  the
ground outside, which  is also an aquifer.

Step 9: Pass the food coloring around the
room so that each shjdent can add a few drops
to their aquifers. Explain that the food coloring
represents hazardous waste that is being
dumped illegally. Ask the students to watch the
path of the food coloring.'

Step 10: Discuss how easy it is to pollute
and contaminate the ground water. Explain that
this is why the government has created very
detailed laws about how companies must deal
with their hazardous waste.

         Unit 1. Chapter 1.3, Waste
                                            The Quest for Less

       Assessment J
1. Ask students to explain how activities above
   the ground can affect the water under-
2. Have students tell you why hazardous waste
   is regulated.
   ^0 Enrichment" J
2. Using papier mache or modeling clay and
   water-based paints, develop a relief map of
   the community or region including all water-
   ways. To physically show how hazardous
   waste can travel through all waterways, put a
   few drops of food coloring on one end of
   the map. Tilt the structure, if necessary, and
   watch the food coloring travel.
3. Elicit what would happen to our waterways if
   they became contaminated  by hazardous
   waste. How would people and ecosystems
   be affected?
   Draw a map of your community or region
   including all the waterways. Add a local
   source of potential hazardous waste pollution
   to the map  and trace the path its waste would
   take if it were not regulated. (See the sidebar
   for examples of local hazardous waste gener-
   ators.) Discuss how streams and creeks feed
   into larger bodies of water and how pollution
   at a small, local stream can result in pollution
   in rivers, lakes, bays, and/or oceans. This
   activity can  be used to teach or review the
   concept of "bird's-eye" view, the different
   types of maps, and the use of legends and
  Examples of Local Hazardous
  Waste Generators
  Dry cleaners
  Print shops
  Vehicle maintenance shops
  Photoprocessing stores
The Quest for Less
                          (Jnitl, Chapter 1.3, Waste


            Unit 1. Chapter 1.3, Waste
The Quest for Less

Source Reduction, Recycling,  Composting,
Landfilling, or Combustion
In this unit, teachers and students will learn the basics of the common
solid waste management options used in the United States today. They
will learn how to prevent waste before it is even created (known as
source reduction), the mechanics and benefits of recycling and buying
recycled products, how to make and use compost, and the realities of
waste disposal through landfilling and combustion. By learning that trash
doesn't just "go away," students will gain an appreciation for how their
everyday actions and decisions affect the environment.
3= £
1 o



     Source "Reduction

      Grade • Subject  •  Skills Index
                                Discovering        Reuse: Not Just    Source
                                Nature's          for the Birds       Reduction
                                Packaging                        Roundup
                                                                     E ologicai Picnic   How Much
                                                                                     Lunch Is Left



               Language Arts
               Social Studies


                Problem Solving
               Motor Skills
                "See Glossary of Skills for more details.

Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Source Redaction
The Qciest for Less

Source  Reduction
                                                         teacher  fact Sheet
What Is Source Reduction?
Americans crave convenience—but at what
cost? American  households have more
discretionary income than most households
worldwide, spending more on products that cre-
ate more waste. Over the last 40 years, the
amount of waste each person creates has
almost doubled  from 2.7 to 4.5 pounds per day
(that is 1,606 pounds per person per year!)
(EPA, 2003). Though reusing, recycling, and
composting are  all important methods of reduc-
ing the amount  of waste produced, the most
effective way to  stop this trend is by preventing
the production of materials that could become

Source reduction, also known as waste preven-
tion, is the practice of designing, manufacturing,
purchasing, or using materials (such as products
and packaging)  in ways that reduce the amount
or toxicity of waste. Source reduction can help
reduce waste disposal and handling costs
because it avoids the costs of recycling, munici-
pal composting, landfilling, and combustion.
It also conserves natural resources and reduces
pollution. In 2000, Americans source reduced
(prevented) 55.1 million tons of solid waste
(EPA, 2003)

Preventing waste before it is generated is a
common-sense way to save financial and natu-
ral  resources, as well as reduce pollution. That
is why EPA encourages consumers, businesses,
and governments to make source reduction their
first priority in waste management practices. For
waste that cannot be prevented, recycling and
composting are  the next best choices. (See the
Teacher Fact Sheet titled Recycling on page 101
for more information on recycling.)

Waste is generated throughout the life cycle of
a product—from extracting raw materials, to
transporting materials, to processing and manu-
facturing goods, to using and disposing of
products. Manufacturers that reuse materials in
The Quest for Less
  Key Point*
  •  Scarce reduction, also known as waste
     prevention, means reducing waste at
     the source. It can take many different
     forms, including reusing or donating
     items, buying in bulk, reducing packaging,
     redesigning products, and reducing
  •  Source reduction also is important in
     manufacturing. Lightweighting of pack-
     aging, reuse, and remanufacturing are
     all becoming more popular business
     trends. Purchasing products that incor-
     porate these features supports source
  •  Source reduction can save natural
     resources, reduce pollution, reduce the
     toxicity of our waste, and save money
     for consumers and businesses alike.
  •  Incorporating source reduction into
     daily practices can require some chal-
     lenging but worthwhile lifestyle changes.
the production process or that use less material
to manufacture products can decrease waste
dramatically. Other ways that manufacturers
practice source reduction include:

•  Reduce the amount of packaging in the
   manufacture of items.

•  Reduce the amount of toxic components in a
   product or use smaller quantities of items
   with high toxicity.

•  Reuse parts in the manufacture of a product.

•  Redesign products to make them more
   modular. This  allows broken or unusable
   components to be replaced rather than
   discarding the entire item.
                  Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Source Reduction

Source  Reduction Facts
•  Since 1 977, the weight of 2-liter plastic soft drink
   bottles  has been reduced from 68 to 51 grams each.
   That means that 250 million pounds of plastic per
   year has been prevented from becoming part of the
   waste stream.
   When McDonald's reduced its napkin size by 1 inch,
   the company prevented 12 million pounds of paper
   from being thrown away each year. In 1999,
   McDonald's switched to lighter weight packaging for
   two of their sandwiches, conserving 3,200 tons of
   boxboard containers.
   State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance converted to elec-
   tronic cameras for their claims processing, saving
   more than 50 tons of instant and 35mm film.
(Source: EPA, 1996, 1999)
                     In addition to reducing the
                     amount of materials in the
                     solid waste stream, reduc-
                     ing waste toxicity by
                     selecting nonhazardous or
                     less hazardous materials
                     for manufacturing is
                     another important compo-
                     nent of source reduction.
                     Using less hazardous alter-
                     natives for certain items
(e.g., cleaning products, pesticides), sharing prod-
ucts that contain hazardous chemicals instead of
throwing out leftovers, reading label directions
carefully, and using the smallest amount of a
chemical necessary are some ways to reduce
waste toxicity. (See the Teacher Fact Sheets titled
Solid Waste on page 47 and Hazardous Waste on
page 51 for information on safe household haz-
ardous waste practices.)

Source reduction is a challenge requiring cre-
ativity and ingenuity, but devising ways to
prevent waste can  be very satisfying and even
fun! There are many ways consumers can prac-
tice source reduction.  Here are just a few
             Choose products that do not use
             excessive packaging.

             Buy ^manufactured or used items.

             Buy items in bulk rather than
             multiple, smaller packages to
             decrease the amount of packag-
             ing waste created.

             Maintain and repair durable

             Reuse bags, containers, and other
             similar items.

             Borrow, rent, or share items  that
             are used infrequently.

             Donate items instead of throwing
             them  out.

             Leave grass clippings on the lawn
             (grasscycling) or use them for  back-
             yard composting.

             Rake  fallen leaves for composting
             rather than bagging them and
             throwing them away.
What Are the Benefits of Source
Reducing waste at the source is the ultimate
environmental benefit. It means waste does not
have to be collected, handled, or processed in
any way, which prevents pollution, saves energy,
and saves money. In addition, by reducing con-
sumption, fewer products are manufactured,
thus reducing the impacts that manufacturing
can cause. For example, by manufacturing  less,
greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, which
can make a difference in preventing global
climate change.

Preventing waste also can mean economic sav-.
ings for communities, businesses, schools, and
individual consumers.  Many communities have
instituted "pay-as-you-throw" waste manage-
ment systems in which people pay for each
can or bag of trash they produce that requires

Unit 2, Chapter 2.1, Source Reduction
                               The Quest for Less


disposal. When these households reduce their
waste at the source, they create less trash and,
consequently, pay a lower trash bill.

Businesses also have an economic incentive to
practice source reduction. Manufacturing costs
can decrease for businesses that reduce packag-
ing, which can mean a larger profit margin and
savings that can be passed on to the consumer.

Schools also can share in the economic benefits
of source reduction. Buying products in bulk fre-
quently means a  savings in cost. Often, what is
good for the environment is good for the pock-
etbook as well.
What Are the Challenges of
Source Reduction?
Practicing source reduction is likely to require
some change in daily routines.  Changing some
habits may be difficult, but the environmental
returns on the effort can make it worthwhile. For
example, while using disposable utensils might
be convenient, using durable flatware saves
resources and requires only slightly more effort
(for cleaning). On the other hand, if waste is not
reduced, the economic and social costs of waste
disposal and the environmental impacts through-
out the life cycle of products will continue to
grow, and it will become increasingly harder to
make decisions about waste management.

Even if consumers decide to change their con-
sumption habits, products with minimal packaging
and nontoxic ingredients are not always available.
Balancing the immediate convenience of easily
available products with the long-term benefits of
waste prevention will be an ongoing  commitment.
What Are Some Emerging  Trends
in Source Reduction?
Many companies are  becoming more involved
in source reduction by remanufacturing and
reusing components of their products or the
entire product. A toner cartridge for a laser
printer is an example  of a product that once
was disposable but now is manufactured to be
reused. Many products are manufactured to use
"modular," or replaceable, units.

One manufacturer of photocopy machines takes
back and remakes equipment from more than
30,000 tons of used photocopiers. Parts from
returned machines that meet internal criteria for
manufacturing are reprocessed into new prod-
ucts. Parts that do not meet remanufacturing
criteria and cannot be repaired are often
ground,  melted, or otherwise recycled into basic
raw materials. The company estimates annual
savings of several hundred million dollars in raw
material,  labor, and disposal as a result of
design changes and product return programs.

Other companies are also taking advantage of
more environmentally preferable  ingredients as
ways to reduce the weight of packaging. Some
supermarkets across the country have instituted
shelf-labeling programs to highlight products
with less packaging or less toxic ingredients.
Purchasing these  items shows manufacturers that
consumers encourage and support source
How Can You  Help?
Students can play an important role in protect-
ing the environment by practicing source
reduction. Here are some simple practices to
help  prevent waste:

•  Donate old clothes and other household
   items so they can be reused or sold for reuse.

•  Consider taking a thermos of juice to school
   instead of individual disposable containers.

•  Use concentrated products
   to get more product with
   less packaging.

•  Use double-sided copying
   and printing features.

•  Buy pens, pencils, tooth-
   brushes, and other items
   with replaceable parts.
The Quest for Less
                  Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Source Deduction

   Use a durable lunch container or bag
   instead  of a disposable one.

   Consider using environmentally preferable
   cleaning products instead of those that
   contain potentially toxic ingredients.

   Consider buying items that have been reman-
   ufactured or can be reused, such as toner
   cartridges for the printer or tires for the car.

   Encourage companies to reduce unnece-
   ssary packaging and the use of hazardous
components in products. Many companies
offer toll-free numbers and Web sites for
these comments.

Compost cafeteria food waste and use the
finished compost to mulch the plants and
trees around the school grounds.

Additional Information Resources:
Visit the following Web sites for more information on source reduction and solid waste:

•  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
•  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on source reduction:
•  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on global ciimcite change and waste
•  Reuse Development Organization: 

To order the following additional documents on source reduction and municipal solid waste, call EPA
toll-free at (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site .

•  Planet Protector's Club Kit (EPA530-E-98-002)
•  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM
•  National Source Reduction Characterization Report for Municipal Solid Waste in the United States
•  EPA's WasteWise program puts out Bulletins and Updates that deal with source reduction. To obtain
   applicable issues, call the WasteWise helpline at 800 EPA-WISE (372-9473) or visit the Web site at
unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Source Redaction
                             The Quest for Less

                                                                           Grades SC-1
Discovering Ifature's  "Packaging
       Objective J
              Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students that some food items come in their
own natural packaging.
      Activity Description J
Circle and color the items that have their own natural
      Materials Needed J
   Copies of the find Nature's Packaging worksheet for
   each member of the class
   Crayons or markers
              Skills Used
              Motor skills

      Activity J
Step 1: Discuss how some food products
have their own natural packaging that protects
the part people eat. If possible, bring in exam-
ples of items that have natural packaging
(e.g., bananas, unshelled nuts, oranges) and
others that do not (e.g., cheese, crackers,
soda). Discuss how nature's packaging can be
used in compost, which returns materials to
the earth.  Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Composting on page 141 for background
information on the composting process.

Step 2: Distribute the find Nature's
Packaging worksheet and pass out crayons or
markers. Ask the students to circle the items
that have natural packaging.

Step 3: Ask the students to color the items
on the worksheet.
The Quest for Less
1. Ask students what items have their own

2. Ask students what we can do with natural
  packaging instead of throwing it away.
   2« Enrichment 1
  Start a vermicomposting bin in the class to
  demonstrate how nature's packaging can
  be recycled rather than thrown away. (See
  the activity Worms at Work on page  1 59 in
  the Compost chapter for instructions on
  how to start a vermicomposting bin.)

  Bring in a variety of unshelled nuts (e.g.,
  pistachios, walnuts,  peanuts). Draw or find
  a sketch of a face, animal, or a fun object.
  Photocopy it and give one to each student.
  Have the students shell the nuts and then
  glue the shells to the sketch. Use paints to
  color the picture once the glue has dried.

                  Unit 2. Chapter 2.1, Source Reduction
                                                                                         - .

$t\id*nt Handout

                                                                       Grades K-4
Bettfe:  Hat  Ju$t far  the Bird?
To teach students that, with some creativity, we can
make useful things from items we might ordinarily dis-
card in the trash or recycling bin.
      Activity Description J
Students will bring in plastic milk jugs to create bird
      Materials Needed J
   Extra plastic milk jugs (with caps) for students that do
   not bring in one from home
   Colored markers
   Two 1 -foot long pieces of wood approximately
   1/4- to 3/4-inch in diameter (per bird feeder)
   Bird feed for students to put in their finished feeders
                                                     Key Vocabulary Words J
              Source reduction
                                                     Skills Used  ]
              Motor skills
      Activity J
Instruct students ahead of time to bring in an
empty plastic milk jug from home.

Step 1: Introduce the concept of source
reduction to the class. Explain that reusing
items is a great way to achieve source reduc-
tion. (Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Source Reduction on page 79 for background

Step 2: With an adult's supervision or
help, instruct students to cut out two large
holes on different sides of their milk jug for
birds to enter.
The Quest for Less
                 Unit 2, Chapter 2.1, Source Reduction

       Journal Activity J
Have students write a story
from the point of view of a
bird. What does the bird think
of all of the trash it sees from
the sky?
Step 3: Provide each student with two 1 -foot-
long pieces of wood. These could be sticks from
a nearby park or even the school grounds.
Explain that these wooden pieces will cut
through the bird feeder and stick out on either
end so that birds can perch on the feeder. With
an adult's supervision or help, instruct students
to trace a circle below each of the large holes
on the milk jug to match the diameter of the
stick. Then, cut out the tracing and insert the
wooden pieces through the milk jug.
Step 4: Punch small holes in the bottom of
the jug to allow rain water to drain out. Tell
students to make sure the holes are not too
large, or else the feed might fall through.

Step 5: With markers and/or paints, work
with the students to decorate the feeders.

Step 6: Have each student put bird seed in
their feeders. Tell the students they can take their
feeders home or hang them outside the school.
                                                    ^Assessment J
1.  Have students name items that can be
   reused without any alterations. Ask them to
   list items that can  be changed to create a
   new  product (like the bird feeder just created
   from the milk jug).
2.  Ask students to explain why reuse is good for
   the environment.
3.  Ask students what would have happened to
   the milk jug if it hadn't been used to make
   the feeder.
                                                   ^ Enrichment  J
1.  Organize a waste exchange—with just the
   class or the entire school. Ask students to
   bring in something from home they no longer
   need (e.g., a toy, game, piece of clothing).
   With teacher facilitation, students can then
   trade one item for another. Donate unwanted
   items to a local charity or thrift store.
2.  Have students bring in small pieces of "junk"
   they think look interesting or colorful (e.g.,
   bottle caps, colorful pieces of paper, wood
   scraps, toy parts, lids, old keys, pieces of old
   clothing). Then, have the class work together
   gluing them onto a large piece of wood cre-
   ating a colorful, attractive mosaic.  When the
   "junk"  mosaic is finished, hang it on the wall
   of the classroom.
3.  Instruct students 1o  bring items from home
   that their families are reusing. Have the stu-
   dents present these items to the class as a
   "show and tell."

Unit 2, Chapter 2.1, Source Reduction
                               The Quest for Less

                                                                             Grades 3-6
                    Reduction. Roundup
       Objective  J
               Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students the various ways to create less waste
in the first place.
       Activity Description J
Students form teams and work together to answer ques-
tions on source reduction.
       Materials Needed
   Source Reduction Questions and Answers sheet
   Chalk board or flip chart
   Clock or timer
               Source reduction
               Natural resources
                                                        Skills Used )
Step 1: Discuss source reduction and reuse
and how it relates to a clean and healthy envi-
ronment. Explain what individuals can do to
make a difference in the amount of waste that is
created. (Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheets titled
Source Reduction on page 79 and Products on
page 25 for background information.)

Step 2: Divide the class into two teams.
Bring the two teams to the front of the class-
room and have them face each other. You
might want to line up a row of desks on each
side to create a "game show" setting. Flip a
coin to decide  which team will go first.

Step 3: In preparation for this activity, write
the questions on a flip chart, or simply write
them one  at a time on the board. Present  the
first question to Team 1. Inform students there
are a certain number of answers to this ques-
The Quest for Less
tion. The number of correct answers is provid-
ed on the attached Questions and Answers
sheet. Instruct Team 1 that they can consult for
2 minutes before they must try and provide as
many of the six answers as possible.

Step 4: As the students in Team 1  state their
answers, write them on the board below the

Step 5: Team 1 gets a point for every cor-
rect answer. If Team 1  was  unable to get all
six answers referred to on the Questions and
Answers sheet, then Team 2 gets an opportu-
nity to guess the rest of the answers for that
same question. Write Team 2's answers on the
board next to Team 1 's answers. If Team 1
was able to provide all of the correct answers,
then Team 2 doesn't get a chance to answer
that question.

Step 6: Go over the answers with the class
and discuss any answers that neither team
could provide.

                  Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Scarce Reduction

       Journal Activity J
Ask students to make a list of all
the things they currently do that
create less waste. Then ask them
to list other things they could do
to further reduce the amount of
waste they produce in their daily
Step  7: Start the process over again with
question #2, but this time, allow Team 2 to
answer first. Keep track of the score and work
through all of the questions, alternating which
team gets to answer first.

After all of the questions have been answered,
the team  with the most points wins. For extra
credit, see if students can name even  more cor-
rect answers.
                                                  ^Assessment  J
1.  Ask students what kinds of activities are
   involved in source reduction.
2.  Have students list some things each of us
   can do to create less waste and reuse more.
3.  Ask students to explain why source reduction
   is important.
                                                 ^ Enrichment J
1.  Have each team of students devise its own
   questions and answers for the opposing
   team, and play again.
2.  Organize a clothing drive with the class or
   the entire school. Donate the used clothing
   to a local charity or thrift store.

Unit 2. Chapter 2.1, Source Redaction
                              The Quest for Less


                    Source Reduction Roundup
                  Question* and jln*wer* Sheet

(Note: Students should be encouraged to think of additional responses that are not
on these lists.)
What are 6 ways you can reuse a jelly jar?
1.  Pen and pencil holder
2.  Cookie cutter
3.  Storage container for leftovers
4.  Drinking glass
5.  Vase for flowers
6.  Container for  nonfood items such as paper clips, buttons, marbles, or any other small item
        What are 6 commonly used items that are often thrown away but could be reused? (Note
        that some items have both reusable and disposable parts.)
         1. Cups
        2. Eating utensils (e.g., forks, knives, spoons)
        3. Plates
        4. Cloth Napkins
        5. Lunch  bags
        6. Batteries
What are 6 benefits of source reduction?
1.  Reduces waste
2.  Conserves natural resources
3.  Reduces pollution
4.  Reduces disposal costs
5.  Reduces toxic waste in the waste stream
6.  Saves money
What are 6 ways you and your family can reduce waste?
1.  Use a reusable bag when shopping
2.  Bring your lunch  in a  reusable bag
3.  Buy or make your own nontoxic cleaners
4.  Make sure you only buy what you need
5.  Donate items you don't need anymore instead of
   throwing them away
6.  Use both sides of paper before recycling it
The Quest for Less
Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Source Reduction


                                                                                Grades 3-4
Ecological Picnic
       Objective J
               Key Vocabulary Words J
To show students that choices they make about prod-
ucts and packaging can have an impact on the
amount of waste they generate.
       Activity Description  J
Plan a picnic with students that produces as little waste
as possible.
       Materials Needed
 •  Lunch
 •  Durable or reusable plates, silverware, cups, napkins,
 •  Recyclables container
 •  Garbage container
 •  Food waste container, if your school composts
 •  Large scale
               Source reduction
               Duration J
                Day 1: 1  hour
                Day 2: 1  hour, 30 minutes
               Skills Used )
Step  1: Select a location to hold your eco-
logical  picnic, preferably outdoors with an
indoor  alternative in case of inclement weath-
er. Find three containers the children can use
to separate their recyclables, trash, and food
scraps  after they have finished their picnic
lunch. Check with your cafeteria manager to
see if your class can use  nondisposable silver-
ware, cups, and plates and if arrangements
can be  made to provide  bag lunches for stu-
dents who forget or are unable to bring a
lunch from home:
The Quest for Less
Step 2: Explain to students that you will be
taking them on an ecological picnic where they
will learn how to create less garbage, recycle
more, and  compost their leftover food items.
Introduce the concepts of durable and dispos-
able items and source reduction to the class
(refer to the Teacher  Fact Sheet titled Source
Reduction on page 79 for background informa-
tion). Note  how students will put these concepts
into practice during the picnic.

Step 3: With students, compile a list of items
on the blackboard that people usually bring to
a picnic (e.g., paper plates, plastic utensils,
paper napkins, chips, drinks, sandwiches).
Working through the list on the blackboard,
discuss items that can replace the disposable
items. Examples might include cloth napkins
                   Unit 2, Chapter 2.1, Source Reduction

       Journal Activity J
Ask students if they saw any litter
where they had their picnic. Ask
them how it made them feel to see
litter. How could it affect the
plants, animals, and other people
that use the space?
instead of paper napkins or washable plastic
plates instead of paper plates. Explain the bene-
fits of buying in bulk by describing how one large
bag of popcorn, for example, leaves less
garbage than many smaller bags. You can also
discuss picnic games and activities and their
impact on the environment. Note that tossing a
frisbee or flying kites doesn't create any waste,
but having a water balloon fight does.

Step 4: Send a note home with the children
explaining how to prepare for the picnic. The
note should explain that your class is having an
ecological picnic and is trying to limit the amount
of garbage left over. Encourage students to dis-
cuss what they've learned about source reduction
with their parents and to help make preparations
by placing food in reusable containers or includ-
ing as little packaging as possible.  Parents can
also be invited to volunteer for the  picnic. You
can conduct the picnic in two ways:
A) Children  can bring their own lunch.
B) Children  can bring "potluck" items. This may
   require more time and effort from the par-
   ents to provide and transport the  items. In
   class, have the children draw up  a list of the
   things they need  and have each of them
   select something to bring. If your cafeteria is
   unable to provide silverware, cups, and
   plates, these will  need to be provided by stu-
   dents. In  the note to the parents,  list the item
   the student has chosen to bring.
 Day 2
Step 1: Before the picnic, explain to the stu-
dents that they will be weighing the amounts of
recyclables, trash, and food scraps left over from
the picnic. Ask therr to guess approximately how
many pounds of mcterial they think will be left
over in each of the  containers after the picnic.
Draw the. Eco-Picnic Table shown below on the
blackboard and enter their guesses in the first
                                                     ff able

Actual Weight (with container)
Subtract Weight of Empty
Total of Each

Food Scraps


Total Guess

Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Source Reduction
                               The Quest for Less

row. Show students which container you want
them to use for recyclables, trash, and food
scraps and then weigh each of the empty con-
tainers  on the large scale. Record these numbers
on the  Eco-Picnic Table. Encourage the students
to pick up any litter they find at the picnic site.

Step  2: Go to the picnic site and have the

Step  3: After lunch, discuss the types of
garbage that are left over, as well as the
garbage prevented because of the choices  stu-
dents made. Have the students look at the
leftover garbage and come up with ways they
could have reduced it further.

Step  4: Return to the classroom with the  con-
tainers.  Weigh the three containers to determine
the  amount of material that must be  disposed
of, recycled, or composted. How close was the
students' original guess? Multiplied by 7 days,
how much waste would your classroom dispose
of in 1  week? How much would it recycle?  How
much could  be composted? Ask your students to
discuss, generally speaking, what would happen
if the whole school (or even America as a
whole)  practiced source reduction as they did
for the  picnic.
     D Assessment J
1.  Ask students why people use disposable
   items even if they know they make more
2.  Ask students to provide an example of a dis-
   posable item that they or their family use
   regularly. Are there other alternatives that
   could create less waste? Would they or their
   family be willing to switch products or change
   their lifestyles to produce less waste and have
   less of an impact on the environment?
   Ask students to think of other ways, beyond a
   picnic, that they can practice source reduc-
   tion. Examples might include using cloth
   napkins and wipes instead of paper towels,
   buying juice in large bottles or concentrate
   rather than separate single-serving bottles,
   using their imagination for games rather than
   toys, or taking cloth bags when shopping.
W ^0 Enrichment J
 1. You could consider conducting this activity
   by measuring the recyclables, trash, and
   compostables from a regular day's lunch
   compared to the ecological picnic lunch.
 2. Collect the food scraps left over from the
   picnic and put them in a vermicomposting
   bin or compost pile. (Refer to the composting
   activities section and the Teacher Fact Sheet
   titled Composting on page 141  for more
 3. Make fun lunch bags out of an old pair of
   jeans or shorts. Cut off the legs, sew the bot-
   tom closed just under the. pockets, and tie
   thick ribbon through the belt loops for han-
   dles. Help students decorate their bags with
   objects such as buttons, small toys, scrap
   cloth and ribbon, and fabric paints.

The Quest for Less
                   Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Source Reduction


              Much,  Lunch.
teft Over?
       Objective J
To teach students that reducing product packaging can
often reduce waste.
       Activity Description J
Students will weigh their lunches before and after eating
to determine how much of their lunch is packaging.
       Materials Needed J
   Copies of Packaging Worksheet for each member
   of the class
   Resealable plastic bags (approximately 1 quart
   capacity) for each member of the class
   Small scales capable of weighing items under a pound
                                                                             Grades 5-6
               Source reduction
               Key Vocabulary Words J
              Skills Used  )

               Problem solving
Before conducting this activity, ask all students
in the class to bring their lunch from home on
a selected day. If some students are on a
cafeteria lunch program, consult with cafeteria
staff to see if they can provide box lunches on
a certain day. If box lunches aren't feasible,
have the students use the waste from their
regular school  lunches  (e.g., milk containers,
plastic packages, paper napkins, cups, etc.).

Step 1: Explain source reduction to the
class. Discuss how it is one of the most impor-
tant activities we can engage in to help the
environment. In addition, discuss how packag-
The Quest for Less
ing is frequently necessary, but can also create
a lot of waste. (Refer to the Teacher Fact
Sheets titled Products on page 25 and Source
Reduction on  page 79.) Distribute a copy of
the Packaging Worksheet to each student.
Step 2: Before lunch, ask students to list
each piece of their lunch (including the lunch
bag or container) in Column A, then weigh
each item on  a scale and record the weights
in Column B on their Packaging Worksheet.
Send them to  lunch with their own resealable
bag and instruct them to put all packaging
from their lunches in the bag  instead of the
garbage can.  Explain that they should save
nature's packaging also (e.g., banana peels,
orange rinds,  peanut shells).
                  Onit 2, Chapter 2.1. Scarce Reduction

        Journal Activity J
 Ask students to write a story about
 what their lives and the environment
 would be like if everything was dis-
 posable and they could not reuse or
 recycle anything.
Step  3.: After lunch, have the students weigh
each piece of packaging from their resealable
bags and record these numbers in Column C.
Step  4: Have the students compare the weight
of each piece of their lunches  before eating and
after. Based on these numbers, calculate the  per-
centage of the total weight that is the packaging
for each lunch item.

Step  5: Instruct students to total Columns B
and C  and put these figures in the "Total" row of
those columns.
Step  6: Discuss recycling, composting, and
reuse.  Have students put a check in the appro-
priate box for those packaging items that are
reusable, compostable, or recyclable. These
checks are for information only, showing students
what methods could be used as alternatives to
throwing out these items.  If students couldn't
check any of these alternatives, then the total in
their final column (H) would be zero. If, however,
they can check off any of these (reusable, com-
postable, recyclable) columns, then that item's
remaining packaging weight gets added to
column H.
Step  7t Ask students to compare their totals
from Columns B, C, and H and share them with
the class. Discuss the types of  packaging waste
they could not reuse, compost, or recycle.
Discuss how this waste could be reduced
through other actions, such as their purchasing
behavior or the  design of the packaging.
Step  8: Start  a list on the chalkboard of ways
students can create less waste in their lunches
(e.g., buying in  bulk, reusable lunch bags,
reusable utensils).
    ^Assessment  J
Ask students the following questions:

1.  Why do manufacturers use packaging?
2.  Why did some students have more packaging
   waste than others;?

3.  Why do some products have so much

4.  Are there ways to avoid purchasing so much
   packaging? What are they?

5.  Can some packaging be reused or recycled?
6.  What is the difference between a disposable and
   reusable product? What are some examples?
   ^jy Enrichment J
1.  Bring in a bulk item and the same amount in
   individually wrapped single serving contain-
   ers. Empty the contents of the containers and
   weigh them. Compare the weights of the one
   big container to the total weight of the multi-
   ple single-serving containers. Discuss what
   effect the different kinds of packaging have
   on the  environment.
2.  Ask students to go to the store and compare
   the per unit prices of similar items that are
   packaged differently (e.g., bulk versus individ-
   ual packages). Instruct them to write down their
   findings and draw conclusions from them.
3.  Have students find  a product they believe to
   be packaged in excess. Ask them to explain
   why they think the packaging is wasteful.
   Instruct the students to write a letter or send
   an e-mail to the manufacturer that sells the
   overpackaged product asking the company to
   consider reducing the amount of packaging.
   Request a response.
4.  Instruct students to select a package  of their
   choice  and think of ways they could reduce the
   volume and/or weight of the package without
   changing its function. Ask students to sketch a
   rough drawing or write a description of their
   proposed package  and list the reasons why
   they think the new package would be better.

 Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Source Redaction
                               The Quest for Less

Packaging Worksheet

Item From
1 . Example:
Weight Before
(Product and
170 g

Weight After
28 g

Packaging %




Total Amount
of Trash That
Been Avoided.
28 g




       Grade  •  Subject  •  Skills  Index
                     Recycling    Follow That  Take-Home  Making    Handmade  Recycling...   Designing   Learn to
                     Rangers    Bottle!     Recycling    Glass From  Recycled    Sorting It    the       Recycle
                                        Kit        Scratch    Paper      All Out     Ultimate
                                                           Planters              Can

                  Language Arts
                  Social Studies
                  Problem Solving
                  Motor Skills
                  *See Glossary of Skills for more i

Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

                                                          Teacher fact  Sheet
What Is Recycling?
Recycling is a series of activities that includes the
collection of used, reused, or unused  items that
would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and
processing the recyclable  products into raw mate-
rials, and remanufacturing the recycled raw
materials into new products. Consumers provide
the last link in recycling by purchasing products
made from recycled content. Recycling also can
include composting of food scraps, yard trim-
mings, and other organic materials. (See the
Teacher Fact Sheet titled Composting  on page
141 for more information.)
 How Does Recycling Work?
 Many people already recycle items like paper,
 glass, and aluminum. While these efforts are a
 vital part of the process, the true recycling path
 continues long after recyclables are collected
 from household bins or community drop-off
 centers. Collecting,  processing, manufacturing,
 and purchasing recycled products creates a
 closed circle or loop that ensures the overall
 success and value of recycling.
Key Point*
•  The latest numbers show that the
   recycling rate in the United States has
   reached an all-time high-jn 2008 the
   country recycled 33.2 percent of its
   municipal solid waste. (EPA, 2009)
•  Recycling includes collecting materials
   and sorting and processing them into
   recycled raw materials to be remanu-
   factured into new products.
•  Recycling reduces the use of virgin
   materials, reduces the pollution and
   energy used in manufacturing and pro-
   cessing, saves landfill space, and
   creates jobs and revenue.
•  New methods for the recycling and
   reuse of certain items, such as computer
   and electronic equipment, are being
   developed to prevent waste and save
   additional materials and energy.
•  Recycling can only be effective if people
   buy recycled-content products.
How and where recyclables can be collected
vary from community to community. Some com-
munities collect from residences, schools, and
businesses through:

•  Curbside collection programs, the most com-
   mon method. Residents set recyclables,
 sometimes sorted by type, on their curbs to be
 picked up by municipal or commercial haulers.

 Drop-off centers, locations where residents
 can take their recyclables. These centers are
 often sponsored by community organiza-
 Buy-back centers,
 local facilities where
 manufacturers buy
 their products back
 from consumers and
 remanufacture the
 used products into
 new products.
The Quest for Less
                      Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling

              Deposit/refund programs, which require con-
              sumers to pay a deposit on a purchased
              product in a container (e.g., bottle). The
              deposit can be redeemed when the con-
              sumer brings the container back to the
              business or  company for recycling.
                                                other commodity, and prices for the materials
                                                change and fluctuate with the market. Each
                                                MRF has individual requirements about what
                                                materials it will accept, but most accept newspa-
                                                pers, aluminum cans, steel food cans, glass
                                                containers, and certain types of plastic bottles.

                                   After collection, some
                                   recyclables are
                                   "processed" and pre-
                                   pared for delivery to
                                   manufacturing facili-
                                   ties. Processing
                                   usually includes mak-
           Follow a  Plastic Bottle Beyond
           the Bin...
           After a plastic soda bottle is collected in a
           recycling bin, it is sorted and transported to a
           materials recovery facility. There it is cleaned
           and fed into a granulator that chops it into
           uniform-sized pieces, called "flakes." A manu-
           facturer then  purchases the flakes and  melts
           them, squeezing the plastic into thin spaghetti-
           like strands and chopping those strands into
           small pieces called "pellets." These plastic  pel-
           lets are further stretched and squeezed into
           thin  fibers that can  be remanufactured into
           items like clothing,  bags, bins, carpet,  plastic
           lumber, hospital supplies, housewares, packag-
           ing,  shipping  supplies, toys, and more.
           Consumers then complete the recycling loop
           by purchasing and  using these new recycled-
           content products.
           ing sure the materials are sorted properly and
           that contaminants (i.e., nonrecyclables) are
           removed. Recyclables are then usually sent to a
           materials recovery facility (MRF, pronounced
           "murph") to be further sorted and then processed
           into marketable commodities for remanufactur-
           ing. Recyclables are bought and sold  just like any
                                                Once cleaned and sorted, the recyclables move
                                                to the next part of the recycling loop—manufac-
                                                turing. More and more of today's products are
                                                being manufactured with recycled content.

                                                •  Recycled cardbocrd and newspaper are used
                                                   to make new boxes, papers, and other prod-
                                                   ucts such as tissues, paper towels, toilet
                                                   paper, diapers, egg cartons, and napkins.

                                                •  Recycled plastic called PET, found in soft
                                                   drink, juice, and peanut butter containers, is
                                                   used to make new products such as carpets,
                                                   fiberfill (insulating material in jackets and
                                                   sleeping bags), bottles and containers, auto
                                                   parts, and paint brushes. Another kind of
                                                   recycled plastic, HOPE, used in milk, water,
                                                   detergent, and motor oil containers, can be
                                                   remanufactured into trash  cans, bathroom
                                                   stalls, plastic  lumber, toys,  trash bags, and
                                                   hair combs. Numbers imprinted on the plastic
                                                   product indicate from which type of plastic
                                                 .  the product has been manufactured and how
                                                   it can be recycled. Not all  communities recy-
                                                   cle all types of plastic.

                                                •  Recycled glass is used again and again in
                                                   new glass containers as well as in glasphalt
                                                   (the roadway aspnalt that  shimmers in sun-
                                                   light), road filler, and fiberglass.

                                                •  Recycled aluminum beverage cans, one of
                                                   the most successful recyclables, are remade
                                                   into new cans in as little as 90 days after
                                                   they are collected. Recycled aluminum cans
                                                   also can be used in aluminum building

                                                •  All steel products manufactured in the
                                                   United States contain 25 to 30 percent or
                                                   100 percent  recycled steel, depending on
                                                   the manufacturing process used.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

    Recycling in the United  States Throughout History
    Although the United States has witnessed a major increase in public participation in recycling pro-
    grams in recent years, industrial and commercial recycling has always made sense economically.
    The 'time line below presents a brief glimpse of recycling throughout U.S. history.

    Late 1800s to Early 1900s
    •  Before the days of mass production, the economic climate required people to routinely repair,
      reuse, and recycle their material possessions.
      - Scrap yards recycled old cars, car parts, and metal goods.
      - The paper industry used old rags as its main source of fiber until the late 19th century.
      - Retailers collected used cardboard boxes for recycling.

    1914-1918 and 1939-1945  (WWI and WWII)
    •  Patriotism inspired nationwide scrap drives  for paper, rubber, and  other materials to help the
      war effort.
      - Many farms melted down and recycled iron or metal pieces of rusted machinery for warships,
        vehicles, and  other military machines.
    •  People even saved grease from  meat they cooked, which was used to  make munitions.

    •  Interest in recycling waned as America's peacetime economy soared. Rising incomes and wide-
      spread, affordable, mass-produced goods  created the "disposable" society.

    •  Environmental awareness  rejuvenated the nation's interest in recycling.
    •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established December 2, 1970.
    •  The first Earth Day was held in 1970, significantly increasing recycling awareness. In the years
      following, 3,000 volunteer recycling centers opened and more than 100 curbside collection
      programs were  established.
    •  EPA and some state agencies developed guidelines, technical assistance, and targets for
      local  recycling efforts.

    •  The national spotlight fell  on monitoring trash due to increased awareness of pollution  resulting
      from poor waste management.
    •  Federal, state, and local governments became more and more  involved in waste management.
    •  Waste management firms  began to offer recycling programs in connection with proposals for
      new incinerators or landfills.

    •  Industry expanded the range of  products made from  recycled materials instead of virgin raw
    •  National recycling rate reached double digits (28.2  percent in 1998).

    •  EPA sets national goals for reducing and recycling waste.
The Quest for Less
Unit 2. Chapter 2.2, Recycling        103

           Recycling  Facts
           •   By recycling 1 ton of paper, we save: 1 7 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, ^63 gallons of oi, 3
              cubic yards of landfill space, and enough energy to heat an average hoijne for 6 months.
           •   Manufacturers can make one extra-large T-shirt out of only five recycled plastic soda bottles.
           •   Americans throw away enough aluminum every 3 months to rebuild our entire commercial.air
           •   When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 1 20
              pounds of limestone are
           •   Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy required to make bluminum cans from
           •   The amount of aluminum recycled in  1 995 could have built 14 aircraft carriers.
           (Sources: Weyerhaeuser Company, 2001; Steel Recycling Institute, 2000; American Fore;t and Paper Association,
           2000; R.W. Beck, 1997; The Can Manufacturers Institute, 1997; Anchorage Recycling Clenter, 2000; Recyclers'
           Handbook by Earthworks Group, 1997; EPA,  1997)
           Purchasing Recycled Products
           The market for recycled materials is the final
           part of the recycling loop. Recycled products
           must be  bought and used in order for the entire
           recycling process to succeed.

           Recycling and composting activities divert about
           62 million  tons of material from landfills and
           incinerators. (See the Teacher Fact Sheets titled
           Landfills on page 1 65 and Combustion on
           page 1 69 for more information.) in 2008 the
           country recycled 33.2 percent of its municipal
           solid waste, a rate that has almost doubled over
           the past  1 5 years. That's 1.5 pounds per person
           per day.  Of that 33.2 percent, here is the break-
              Materials Recycled in the
              United States
                Other: 8%

                Glass: 3%

                Plastics: 3%

                  Metals: 9%
                                       Source: EPA, 2008
                                                down of what the United States recycled that

                                                What Are the Benefits of
                                                When each part of the recycling loop is com-
                                                pleted, the process helps both the environment
                                                and the economy. Recycling prevents materials
                                                from being thrown away, reducing the need for
                                                landfilling and incineration. In addition, the use
                                                of recycled materials to manufacture new prod-
                                                ucts prevents pollution caused by the
                                                manufacturing of produces from virgin materi-
                                                als. Also, using  recycled materials for
                                                manufacturing decreases emissions of green-
                                                house gases that contribute to global climate
                                                change. Since the use of recycled materials
                                                reduces the need for raw material extraction
                                                and processing, energy is saved and the Earth's
                                                dwindling resources are conserved.

                                                Recent studies indicate that recycling and
                                                remanufactyring account for about 1 million
                                                manufacturing jobs throughout the country and
                                                generate more than $100  billion in  revenue.
                                                Many of the employment opportunities created
                                                by recycling are in oreas of the country where
                                                jobs are most needed. Jobs include materials
                                                sorters, dispatchers, truck drivers, brokers, sales
                                                representatives, process engineers, and
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
The Quest for Less

               Recycling  in Action
               For recycling to work, everyone has to participate in each phase of the loop. From government and
               industry, to organizations, small businesses, and people at home, all Americans can easily make
               recycling a part of their daily routine. Below are some ways for individuals to get involved in recycling:

               •  Learn about and participate in a community recycling program. Know the collection schedule or
                 drop-off location as well as which items are acceptable. Get involved  by volunteering with a
                 homeowner's association or community organization to educate neighbors about the recycling
               •  Empty all fluids and remove all lids from bottles and cans when recycling and do not contami-
                 nate recycling containers with trash.
               •  Participate and  encourage colleagues to recycle in the containers provided in your
                 school. Initiate a recycling program in your school if one does not exist.
               •  Make the effort to find recycling opportunities for items, such as plastic packaging, that are not
                 included in your local recycling program.
               •  Use recyclable products and encourage others to do the same.

            What Are the Challenges of             used in packaging, usually can not be included
            Recycling?                                    in curbside or drop-off recycling programs.
                                                             These items still end  up in the  trash because it is
            Despite its success, the potential of recycling in     not profjtable to collect the tons needed for
            this country is not yet fully realized. Some plas-     remanufacture into new products.
            tics, for example, such as bottles and
            containers, are recyclable in almost any com-       In addition, the costs of collecting, transporting,
            munity, but others, such  as plastic "peanuts"        and processing recyclables can sometimes be
Is Your School Waste Wise?
Waste Wise is a voluntary EPA partnership program that helps businesses, governments, and institu-
tions reduce waste and save money. Since the program began  in 1994, WasteWise partners have
reduced their municipal solid waste by more than 26 million tons! In 1998 alone, partners saved an
estimated  $264 million. Partners include many large corporations, small and medium-sized
businesses, hospitals, tribes, and state, local, and federal governments, as well as 87 schools,
school  districts, colleges, and universities  in  more than 30 states.

The following are examples of the accomplishments of a few WasteWise partners in the education
field. Alden Central School of New York, which educates children from K-12, implemented a compre-
hensive waste reduction program in all campus buildings.  Students and staff eliminated 450 pounds
of polystyrene cafeteria trays and dishes by switching to reusable products. They also composted 900
pounds of cafeteria food scraps and 150  pounds of yard trimmings for use as mulch on building
grounds. Sligo Adventist School of Maryland also implemented several innovative waste prevention
activities including the reduction of more than  1 ton of drink boxes by switching to bulk juice dis-
pensers. Eastern Illinois University reduced the  amount of computer paper used on  campus by 10
percent and reused 13 tons of office supplies through an internal exchange among employees.

To find  out how your school can join the WasteWise program, please call 800-EPA-WISE (372-
9473),  e-mail at WasteWise@icfi.com,  or visit the Web site at .
            The Quest for Less                                                            Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling         105

           higher than the cost of disposing of these mate-
           rials as waste. The average cost to process a
           ton of recyclables is $50, while the average
           value of those recyclables on the market is only
           $30. Processors often compensate for this dis-
           crepancy by charging a set fee for each ton of
           material they receive or by establishing ongoing
           contracts with communities or haulers.  Efforts to
           better manage waste and recycling programs
           are under development.  Many communities
           across the country implement financial  incen-
           tives to encourage people to recycle. Residents
           are charged a fee based on the amount of solid
waste they throw away. The more a  household
recycles, the less garbage it throw outs, and the
lower the collection fee it pays.
Finally, recycling facilities are not always a wel-
come addition to a community.  As with other
waste management operations,  recycling facili-
ties are often accompanied by increased  traffic,
noise, and even polljtion.  Community leaders
proposing the location for a recycling facility
can encourage the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard)
           Additional Information Resources:
           Visit the following Web sites for more information on recycling and solid waste:

           •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and  Recovery site on recycling: 
           •  Plug-in To e-Cycling: 
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and  Recovery WasteWise Program site:
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and  Recovery site on global climcte change and recycling:
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and  Recovery, Kid's Page: 
           •  U.S. EPA, Region 9 Office's Recycling Site for Kids: 
           •  National  Recycling Coalition: 
           •  Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries: 
           •  American Plastics Council: 
           •  Steel Recycling Institute: 
           •  Aluminum Association: 
           •  Glass Packaging Institute: 
           •  American Forest and Paper Association: 
           •  Institute for Local Self-Reliance: 
           •  Rechargeable Battery Recycling: 
           •  Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group: 
           •  Electronic Industries Alliance: 
           To order the following additional documents on municipal solid waste and recyc ing, call EPA
           toll-free at (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site .

           •  Municipal Solid Waste: Facfs and Figures
           •  Planet Protectors Club Kit (EPA530-E-98-002)
           •  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources—CD-ROM
           Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling
                                The Quest for Le

Buying  Recycled
                                                        Teacher fact Sheet
What Is "Buying Recycled?"
"Buying recycled" means purchasing items that
are made from postconsumer recycled content—
in other words, materials that were used once
and then recycled into something else. This
process is also known as "closing the loop."

Consumers "close the loop" when  they pur-
chase products made from recycled materials.
After an item has been collected for recycling,
sorted and processed, and remanufactured into
a new product, it still has one more critical step
to undergo: purchase and reuse. If no one buys
recycled-content products, the entire recycling
process is ineffective.
                   How Can People
                   "Close the Loop?"
                   Consumers hold the key to
                   making recycling work.
                   Many manufacturers are
                   already making the use of
                   recycled materials a part of
 *JppP'  , ;
A Recycled Product Shopping List
available in stores, and their numbers are rapidly growing.
Some of the everyday products people regularly purchase
contain recycled-content. Here are some items that are
typically made with recycled materials:
   Aluminum cans
   Cereal boxes
   Egg cartons
   Motor oil
Paper towels
Car bumpers
Anything made from
                            Glass containers
   Comic books
The Quest for Less
                    Key "Point*
                    •  Buying recycled-content products
                      encourages manufacturers to purchase
                      and use recycled materials.
                    •  Buying products with "postconsumer"
                      content closes the recycling loop.
                    •  Not all recyclable products can be
                      recycled in every community.
                    •  Buying recycled products saves energy.
                      conserves natural resources, creates
                      jobs, and reduces the amount of waste
                      sent to landfills and incinerators.
                    •  Today's recycled-content products
                      perform just as well, cost the same or
                      less, and are just as available as their
                      nonrecycled counterparts.
                    •  New products containing recycled
                      materials, from construction materials
                      to playground equipment to computers,
                      are constantly being developed.
their official company policy. Through
buying recycled-content products,
consumers can encourage this trend,
making each purchase count toward
"closing  the loop." Purchasing recy-
cled-content goods ensures continued
availability of our natural resources for
the future.

The first  step in buying recycled-con-
tent products is to correctly identify
them.  As consumers demand more
environmentally sound products,
manufacturers are encouraged to
highlight these aspects of their mer-
chandise. While this trend is good,
shoppers should be aware of the vari-
ous uses of "recycled" terminology. To
help consumers understand  product
claims about recycled content, the
                                         Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling

          Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines
          to ensure that products are properly and clearly
          labeled. Here are some basic definitions:

          •  Recycled-content products are made from
             materials that have been recovered or oth-
             erwise diverted from the solid waste
             stream, either during the manufacturing
             process or after consumer use. Recycled-
             content products also include products
             made from  used, reconditioned,  and
             remanufactured components.

          •  Postconsumer content indicates that materi-
             als used to make a  product were recovered
             or otherwise diverted from the solid waste
             stream after consumer use. If this term is not
             noted, or if the package indicates a total
             recycled content with a percentage of post-
             consumer content (e.g., 1 00 percent
             recycled,  10 percent postconsumer), the rest
             of the material  probably came from excess
             material generated during normal manufac-
             turing processes. These materials were not
             used by a consumer or collected through a
             local recycling program.
          Buy-Recycled Facts
          •  Aluminum cans contain an average of 50 percent recy-
             cled postconsumer content, while glass bottles contain
             an average  of 30 percent.

          •  How many recycled plastic soda bottles does it take to
             1 XL T-shirt	5 bottles
             1 Ski jacket filler	5 bottles
             1 Sweater 	27 bottles
             1 Sleeping bag  ....35 bottles

          •  Manufacturers in the United States bought $5 billion
             worth of recycled materials in  1995.

          •  One 6-foot-long plastic park bench can be made from
             about 1,000 plastic milk jugs.

          (Sources: Aluminum Association, 2000; Glass Packaging Institute;
          Recyclers' Handbook by Earthworks Group, 1 997; Anchorage
          Recycling Center,  2000; American Plastics Council, 1999; National
          Recycling Coalition)
                                                •  Recyclable products can be collected, sepa-
                                                   rated, or otherwise recovered from the solid
                                                   waste stream for use in the form of raw
                                                   materials in the manufacture of a new prod-
                                                   uct. This include:; products that can be
                                                   reused, reconditioned, or remanufactured.
                                                   These products do not necessarily contain
                                                   recycled materials and only benefit the envi-
                                                   ronment if people recycle them after use.
                                                   Not all commun ties collect all types  of prod-
                                                   ucts for recycling, so it is really only
                                                   recyclable if your community accepts it<

                                                •  Products wrapped in recycled or recyclable
                                                   packaging do  not necessarily contain recy-
                                                   cled  content. They can be wrapped  in
                                                   paper or plastic made from recycled materi-
                                                   als, which is a good start, but the most
                                                   environmentally preferable packaging is
                                                   none at all.

                                                Consumers must remember to read further than
                                                the recycling symbol or the vague language to
                                                find specific and verifiable claims. When in
                                                doubt about the recycled content of an item,
                                                contact the  manufacturer for information; this
                                                        will also raise the company's awareness
                                                           of shoppers' interest in environmen-
                                                           tally preferable products.

                                                           What Are the Benefits of
                                                           Buying Recycled?
                                                           Important advantages to buying
                                                           recycled content products include:

                                                           •  Waste and Pollution Prevention:
                                                              Manufacturing products with
                                                              recycled-content generally cre-
                                                              ates less waste and pollution,
                                                              ranging from truck emissions to
                                                              raw material scraps.

                                                           •  Resource and Energy
                                                              Conservation: Making a new
                                                              product from recycled-content
                                                              materials generally reduces the
                                                              amount of energy and virgin
                                                              materials needed  to manufac-
                                                              ture the product.
Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less


   Economic Development: The Institute for
   Local Self-Reliance in Washington, DC, esti-
   mates that nine jobs are created for every
   15,000 tons of solid waste recycled into a
   new product. These jobs range from low- to
   high-skilled positions, including materials
   sorters, dispatchers, truck drivers, brokers,
   sales representatives, process engineers, and

   Money Savings: Products such as re-refined
   motor oil, retreaded tires, and remanufac-
   tured automotive batteries will often cost less
   than their virgin material counterparts.
What Are Some Emerging
A wider variety of recycled-content products are
being produced every day. Some newly avail-
able items include electronic equipment,  such as
computers and printers, made from recycled
parts; tape  measures made from reconditioned
and recycled parts; kitty litter made from  recy-
cled drywall; recycled-content plastic office
products; and innovative clothing and acces-
sories made from recycled tire inner tubes.
Buying Recycled in Action
Consumers hold the power in their wallets and
on their shopping lists. Whether buying items for
home, school, or work, consumers must think
about the environment and the future as they
consider products and brands. Below are activi-
ties that will help promote  buying recycled:

•  Buying recycled-content products personally
   and encouraging the use  of recycled prod-
   ucts at school.

•  Teaching children about "closing  the recy-
   cling loop" by organizing  a tour of a local
   facility that manufactures  recycled-content
   products, such as steel  products.

•  Organizing an exhibit of recycled-content
Asking local stores to stock more recycled-
content products that you or the children can
use in the classroom.
The Quest for Less
                     Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling

           Buying  "Green"
           In addition to buying recycled products, consumers can
           help protect the environment by buying "green":
           Green shopping can mean:

               Not buying things you don't need

               Buying energy-efficient products

               Buying used or reusable products
                                          Dackaqinq or reduced
              Buying recycled products or recyclable products

              Buying durable products that will last a long time
           Additional Information Resources:
           Visit the following Web sites for more information on buying recycled products and solid waste:

           •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on buying recycled:
           •  King County, Washington Environmental Resources for Students and Teacher:;:
           •  Green Seal: 
           •  The American Plastics Council: 
           •  The Official Recycled Products Guide: 
           •  The Global Recycling Network: 
           To order the following additional documents on buying recycled and "green" shopping, call EPA
           toll-free at (800) 490-91 98 or look on the EPA Web site 

           •  The Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste (EPA530-K-96-003)
           •  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM
           •  Let's Go Green Shopping (EPA530-K-04-003)

           EPA's WasteWise Program helpline (800 EPA-WISE) has additional resources available.
           These resources include information on the following:

           •  State Buy-Recycled Contacts
           •  Buy Recycled Guidebook
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
The Quest for Less

                                                                                Grades K-2
       Objective J
             Key Vocabulary Words J
To help children recognize the similarities and differ-
ences among common recyclable items.
       Activity Description J
Students play a sorting game and put different recy-
clables into the appropriate bin.
       Materials Needed  J
   Four recycling bins
   Recyclable materials listed in the box below
                                                            1 hour
             Skills Used
       Activity J
Step  1: Set up the four bins in the class-
room and label them "Paper," "Glass,"
"Plastic," and "Metals." Make a pile of all of
the recyclable items on the floor and ask the
students to gather around them in a circle.

Step  2: Explain to students that by the end of
the lesson they will become "Recycling  Rangers"
and learn how to recycle different items. Discuss
with the students how different "garbage" items
can be recycled into new products. Note that it
is important to separate these items into differ-
ent categories before they are used to make
new products. Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet
titled Recycling on page 101 for background
information  on the recycling process.

Step  3: Ask the students to look at the differ-
ent recyclable materials and discuss how they
are alike and how they are different. Ask them
The Qaest for Less
Recyclable Materials
    - Cardboard
    - Newspapers
    - Magazines
    - Plastic soda bottles
    - Plastic milk containers
    - Glass jars or bottles
    - Aluminum cans
    - Steel food cans
    - Other materials recycled in your
Note: All materials should be cleaned and all
sharp lids or edges should be removed or taped
over to avoid injury.
                      Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling

          to compare the colors, textures, and weight of
          the different objects. When handling the glass
          bottles, take great care not to accidentally break
          the containers. Also, note that some metal con-
          tainers have sharp edges that can cause injury
          to the children.

          Step 4: Moving through the pile one item at
          a time, ask the students to identify the material
          that each item is made from. Then, choose a
          student volunteer to place the item in the appro-
          priate bin. For the older children, ask the
          student volunteer to also name another product
          that is made from that same material. If a stu-
          dent, for example, is holding a glass jelly jar, he
          or she could note that soda bottles are also
          made of glass.

          Step 5: After the lesson is concluded, encour-
          age students to go home that night and share
          what they learned with their parents.
                                                     |) Assessment J
                                                1. Ask students to name some examples of
                                                  recyclable items.

                                                2. Have students explain why it is important to
                                                  sort the different recyclable items.
                                                3. Ask students what kinds of materials
                                                  recyclable items are made from.
                                                   ^ Enrichment J
                                                1. Select a few objects from the lesson, ensur-
                                                  ing a good mix of shapes and  sizes. Ask the
                                                  children to trace outlines of the objects and
                                                  then color them  in. Put the pictures up on
                                                  the classroom wall to create a  recycling
                                                  art gallery.
                                                2. Organize the class into teams of four chil-
                                                  dren and  give each group a different
                                                  recyclable item.  Ask the students to make a
                                                  new object from the  recycled items such  as a
                                                  crayon holder or paper plane.
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

                                                                                 Grades K-2
                     That  Bottle/
       Objective  J

To show students the various steps involved in recycling.
               Key Vocabulary Words)
       Activity Description J
While coloring, students will follow the path of the
bottle in the Follow That Bottle! worksheet.
       Materials Needed  J
   Copies of the Follow That Bottle! worksheet for
   each member of the class
               Skills Used  )

               Motor skills
       Activity  J
Step  1: Using the storyline in the Follow That
Bottle! worksheet, discuss the life of a recycla-
ble item, such as a plastic bottle, after it is
placed  in the recycling bin. Explain that items
such as bottles, cans, and newspapers can be
made into a new product—either the same
kind  of product or a completely different prod-
uct—if  they are recycled and not thrown away.
(Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled Recycling
on page 101 for background information.)

Step  2: Read and then distribute the Follow
That Bottle! worksheet and instruct the stu-
dents to follow the bottle by coloring it with
crayons as it is used, recycled, remanufac-
tured, and made into a new product. As the
students color, ask them what they think is
happening in each section of the picture. Ask
them, for example, if anyone has been to a
factory  or if they recycle at home.

Step  3: After talking about the life of the
bottle,  students can color the rest of the story
The Quest for Less
     ^Assessment  J
   Have students explain what happens to a
   plastic bottle, or other recyclable, after it is
   placed in a recycling bin.
   Ask students to describe their own recycling
   experiences. Do they use a bin?
   ^ Enrichment J
1.  Instruct the students to draw a picture of
   themselves as they recycle common products.
2.  Have students sort and separate recyclables
   from lunch for one week to get a sense of the
   items that can be recycled in your community.
   Prepare separate bins for each recyclable.
3.  Ask students what happens to the plastic
   bottle if it does not go in the recycling bin.
                         Unit 2. Chapter 2.2, Recycling

                                                                     When he is finished, he pats the
                                                                     empty bottle in the recycling bin

A truck comes to pick up the
recycled bottles.
The truck takes the recycled       The bottles get separated by color.
bottles to a factory.
The bottles are ground up
into little pieces.
The little plastic pieces are
...and made into pieces of thread.
       Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling
                                                  The Quest for Less

In another factory.,
                              ...the plastic thread is used to     Jackets, scarves, gloves, and
                              make clothing.                  blankets can be made f pom
                                                           recycled soda bottles...
VI  I  I  T  I

...and are sold in stores.
                              Billy's favorite jacket is made from the soda bottles he recycled!
   The Quest for Less
                                                                  (Jnit 2. Chapter 2.2, Recycling       115


                                                                           Grades 2-3
fake-Home Recycling  Kit
Suggestion for Teachers: You might want to find out what materials are collected for
recycling in your community before beginning this activity.
      Objective J
              Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students the value of recycling and encourage
them to discuss recycling with their families.
      Activity Description J

Students will assemble a take-home recycling kit.
      Materials Needed J
   Recycling Facts handout for each member of
   the class
   Old magazines and newspapers
   Used cardboard
   Construction paper
   Markers and/or paint
   Any other arts and crafts supplies available
                                                       2 hours
           j) Skills Used  )
              Motor skills
      Activity J
Step 1: Explain how recycling works and
the important role we all can play by recycling
items instead of throwing them away. (Refer to
the Teacher Fact Sheet titled Recycling on
page 101  for more information.) Review the
information on  the following Recycling Facts
handouts with the students, pointing out the
economic and environmental benefits of recy-

Step 2: Have each student cut the old card-
board boxes into four 8 Vz- by 11 -inch pieces
and glue different colored sheets of construc-
tion paper to each side of the cardboard.
The Quest for Less
Connect each piece of cardboard with tape to
form a placard that can stand on a table.
Instruct the students to label each cardboard
piece with one of the following recyclables:
aluminum, glass, plastic, and paper (see
examples below).

Step 3: Instruct the class to cut out or draw
the appropriate recyclable for each cardboard
                       Unit 2. Chapter 2.2. Recycling

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to interview their
          family members about recycling
          practices and views on recycling.
          Ask students to write a short
          article on their families' current
          views and how their recycling  kit
          changed those views or practices.
          placard using the magazines, newspapers,
          markers, and paints. Ask students to write infor-
          mation about recycling on each placard.
          Optional recycling facts are included on the
          attached handout and might assist students in
          this task.

          Step 4: When the students are finished deco-
          rating their placards, ask them to take them
          home and affix them where their family keeps its
          recyclables or its trash to encourage families
          that don't already recycle to start. Ask students
          to share the information they learned about
          recycling with their parents. Explain how the
          placards serve as friendly reminders  of the
          importance and benefits of recycling.
                                                                1 Assessment  1
                                                  Ask students to list the ways recycling helps
                                                  the environment and why these benefits are

                                                  Ask students what role each of us can play in
                                                             SI Enrichment
                                                1. If your community recycles, but the majority
                                                  of the class' families do not recycle at home,
                                                  have the students practice a "recycling pitch"
                                                  to their parents using their placards and
                                                  other facts about the benefits of recycling.
                                                  Also, students could develop a commercial
                                                  using their placards and draw a story board
                                                  of it or create a skit that is then videotaped.
                                                2. Make signs for the classroom or school recy-
                                                  cling bin. Ask students to put cans, bottles,
                                                  or other  items from their lunches in the recy-
                                                  cling bins in the  classroom or school. When
                                                  the bins are full, *ake them to a collection
                                                  facility  and use the money to buy treats for
                                                  the class.

                                                3. Organize a tour of a recyclables processing
                                                  facility  or a manufacturing plant that uses
                                                  recycled  materials.
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
The Qaest for Less

                                        Student   Handout

                   Recycling  fact? 0
   The average amount of recycled fiber in
   newspapers increased from 10 percent in the
   late 1980s to more than 30 percent today.
                 •  By recycling or reusing
                   1  ton of paper, we save
                   1 7 trees, 7,000 gallons
                   of water, 463 gallons of
                   oil, 3 cubic yards of
                   landfill space, and
                   enough energy to heat
                   an average home for 6
                 •  Americans recycled 36.7
                   million tons of paper and
                   paperboard in 2001.
                                          Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent
                                          of the energy required to make aluminum
                                          cans from scratch.
                                          Americans earn about $1 billion from recy-
                                          cling aluminum cans each year.
                                          Every minute, an average of 127,093 alu-
                                          minum beverage cans are recycled in the
                                          United States.
                                          The amount of aluminum recycled in 2001
                                          could have built 14 aircraft carriers.
Using fewer than five recycled plastic soda bot-
tles, manufacturers can make one extra-large
Milk jugs can be made into all different types
of plastic objects, from park benches to
Recycled plastic soda bottles can be made
into "fleece" sweaters, long underwear, stuff-
ing for sleeping bags, and other items.
              •  Americans recycled
                2,120 thousand tons of
                plastics in 2008.
American's recycled 720 thousand tons of
aluminum in 2008.
                                                                              . '
The Quest for Les
                                             If all the glass bot-
                                             tles and jars
                                             recycled were laid
                                             end-to-end, they
                                             would reach the moon
                                             and make it more than halfway back to
                                             Most bottles and jars contain at least 25 per-
                                             cent recycled glass.
                                             Every ton of new glass produced results in 27.8
                                             pounds of air pollution, but recycling glass
                                             reduces that pollution by 14 to 20 percent.
                                             American's recycled 2.81 million tons of
                                             glass in 2008.
                 Sources: EPA, 2009; American Forest and Paper Association; Can Manufacturers Institute.
                                                            Unit 2. Chapter 2.2, Recycling


                                                                             Grades 2-3
          Step 3: Stir the mixture vigorously over the
          heat until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 min-
          utes). Ask students to describe the changes in
          the sugar and water. Tell them this is how glass
          looks before it cools.

          Step 4: Put several layers of newspaper under
          a sheet of glass or a cookie sheet. (If you are
          worried about handling glass, use  a cookie
          sheet—although students will not be able to see
          through it.) Carefully pour the mixture onto the
          sheet of glass and allow it to cool  (about 15

          Step 5: Hold up the sheet of "glass" so stu-
          dents can see through  it. By allowing it to set
          overnight, the "glass" will become  frosted. The
          next day, ask students to describe the changes
          that occurred  overnight and why (e.g., the water
          evaporated  leaving sugar crystals behind).

          Step 6: As an optional exercise, illustrate
          glass recycling by scraping the dried "glass"
          back into the pan (pretending it is small pieces
          of crushed,  recycled glass), adding water, and
          reboiling the mixture. More sugar will need to
          be  added to repeat the procedure. Ask students
          which resources were replaced when the
          crushed glass was used to make the new glass
          (minerals, energy).
                                                    ^ Enrichment J
               ^Assessment  J
           1. Ask students what materials are used to
             make virgin (nonrecycled) and recycled glass
             bottles. Older students may illustrate the
             process, labeling the natural resources used
             to make glass and show which ones are
             replaced when recycled glass is used as a
             raw material.
           2. Have students describe how recycling glass is
             good for the environment.
                                                   Perform a molding glass exercise. For this
                                                   project, you will need one wide-mouth glass
                                                   jar per group of four to six students, and one
                                                   stiff straw or glass tubing, balloon, and rub-
                                                   ber band per student. To begin, divide the
                                                   class into small groups of four to six students
                                                   and give each group a wide-mouth jar.  Next,
                                                   give each student a straw or glass tubing,
                                                   balloon, and rubber band. Assist students in
                                                   attaching the balloon to the straw with the
                                                   rubber band. Ask students to take turns  put-
                                                   ting the balloon  nto the  jar and blowing it
                                                   up until it takes the shape of the jar. Explain
                                                   that this process illustrates how glass is mold-
                                                   ed into a  jar or other shape during  the
                                                   manufacture of glass containers.
                                                   Bring samples of  handmade glass to class
                                                   and show students the bubbles in the glass
                                                   formed by a person blowing air into the hot
                                                   glass mixture. Point out the irregularities that
                                                   identify the glass as handmade. Visit a glass
                                                   blower, if  possible. These individuals often
                                                   participate in local crafts festivals or  similar
                                                   Ask students to look around their homes for
                                                   glass products that could be recycled to
                                                   make new glass.  Ask students to make a list
                                                   of the items and  bring the list to class. Have
                                                   students share their lists and then discuss
                                                   which items can and cannot be used for
                                                   recycling  (for excmple, items not commonly
                                                   accepted for reo/cling are lightbulbs, mirrors,
                                                   windows, etc.).
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

Handmade  "Recycled "Paper
       Objective J
                              Key Vocabulary Words J
To show students how easy it can be to make products
from recycled items.
      Activity Description J

Students will make planters from recycled paper.
      Materials Needed J
•  Large stack of
•  Scissors
•  Three to five 2-gallon
•  Water
• Egg beaters
• Magnifying glass
• Plant seeds for each
• Planting soil
• Paper drinking cups
                              Virgin materials
                                                      2-3 hours
Skills Used )

Motor skills
Note: Try to reuse a cup-shaped container instead of using paper drinking cups. For example, you
could use reusable plastic drinking cups, plastic planter molds, or milk containers.
      Activity J
Step 1: Introduce the concepts of recycling
and decomposition to the class. Explain that
making items from recyclables rather than virgin
materials benefits the environment by saving
natural resources. (Refer to the Teacher Fact
Sheets titled Recycling on page 101  and Natural
Resources on page 5 for background informa-
tion. The Composf/ng fact sheet on page 141
contains information on decomposition.)

Step 2: Discuss with the class how paper is
made. Explain that most paper is made from
only trees, while other paper is made from a
combination of trees and old newspaper or
                used office paper (in addition, a small per-
                centage of paper is made from other fibrous
                materials such as cotton, papyrus, or rags).
                Discuss how when recycled paper is used to
                make new paper, less trees need  to be cut
                down. Help students explore the environmen-
                tal implications of this.

                Step 2: Have each student cut up two full
                pages of newspaper into V-2- to 1  -inch square

                Step 3: Ask a few student volunteers to fill
                the buckets 1/3 full with paper and the
                remaining 2/3 with water (1 part  paper to 2
                parts water).
The Quest for Less
                                       Unit 2. Chapter 2.2, Recycling

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to write a story
          about their seedling's journey
          from its first days in the
          planter to when it takes root
          in the ground outdoors.
          Step 4: Let the mixture sit overnight. By the
          next day, the newspaper fibers will be soft and
          ready to pulp.

          Step 5: On the second day, have students
          take turns pulping the fibers with the hand  beat-
          er until the paper and water look like mush.
          Explain that the pulping process  breaks down
          the fibers into a form that can be bonded
          together again to make recycled paper. Have
          students look at the  pulp with a magnifying
          glass to see the loose wood fibers.

          Step 6: Give each student a plastic cup-
          shaped container.  Instruct them to mold the pulp
          to the inside of the cup, squeezing out as much
          of the water as possible. The pulp should be
          1/4- to 1/2-inch thick on  the inside of the cup.

          Step 7: Let the pulp dry completely over the
          next 3 days.

          Step 8: After the pulp has dried, take the
          handmade recycled  paper cup out of the drink-
          ing cup.

          Step 9: Give each student a seed and instruct
          them to plant it in the cup using  the planting
          soil. Keep the planters in the classroom and
          have the students care for the plants. Discuss
          how much sunlight and water their plants need.

          Step 10: Send the students home with their
          planters when the  seedlings have sprouted and
          are ready to be planted in the ground. Instruct
          the students to place the whole cup with the
          plant  in it into the ground.
                                               Students in an urban setting could either plant
                                               their seedlings in a  ocal park or decorate their
                                               planters and donate the seedlings to a local
                                               nursing home. (Stucents also could give a pres-
                                               entation on recycling to the elderly when they
                                               drop off their planters.)

                                               Step  11; Discuss how the planter will decom-
                                               pose in the soil and the plant will take root in
                                               the ground. Explain that they have just complet-
                                               ed the recycling  loop by sending the nutrients
                                               from the paper cup back into the soil.
                                                  ^Assessment J
                                                  Ask students where paper comes from.
                                                  Ask students to explain how making paper
                                                  from used  paper benefits the environment.
                                                  Ask students how and why the planter will •
                                                  decompose in the ground.
                                                  ^ Enrichment J
                                               1.  On the blackboard or as a handout, work
                                                  with the students to diagram and label all of
                                                  the steps that occur in making paper from
                                                  recycled materials versus making paper from
                                                  only virgin materials. Discuss the differences.
                                               2.  Instead of sending the students home with
                                                  the seedlings, start a garden at the school
                                                  and tend  it regularly with the class.
                                               3.  Have students discuss what else they can  do
                                                  to  reduce the number of trees  being cut
                                                  down to make paper.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
The Quest for Less

                                                                             Grades 3-6
Becyclmg.«£0rtm0  It  fXL  Out
       Objective  J
To help students test and better understand the proper-
ties of different recyclable materials.
       Activity Description J
Students rotate to different stations to evaluate recyclable
items and  learn how to sort them into different categories.
       Materials Needed J
   Recyclable items listed below
   An aquarium tank or other large container filled
   with water
   Rocks or other items that vary in density
   Balance scale
   Tablespoon of sand
   Copies of the Sorting Statistics Worksheet
   Calculators (optional)
               Key Vocabulary Words J
               Skills Used ]
      Activity J
Step 1: A day or two before the lesson, ask
students to bring in different recyclable items
from home or collect items left over from
lunch. See the box at right for the list of  mate-
rials to request. Be sure to clean these items
before the lesson and remove any sharp
edges. Store these items in a utility closet or
some other storage room at the school until
you are ready to conduct the lesson.

Step 2: To begin the lesson, discuss how
waste is reduced by recycling. Explain how after
recyclables are collected from businesses  and
homes, they are sent to a facility where they are
sorted into different categories of materials.
Explain that it is important for recyclers to tell
The Quest for Less
 Recyclable Items
 Steel food cans
 Aluminum soda cans
 Plastic detergent bottles
 Plastic milk jugs
 Notebook paper
 Cardboard boxes
the difference between materials because they
end up being recycled into different products.
(Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled Recycling
on page 101 for more information on this

                        Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling

                  Journal Activity J
          Ask students if they can think of
          an innovative way to sort recy-
          clables? Ask them to describe or
          draw their invention.
          Step 3: Organize three different stations
          throughout the classroom.
          Station One should include the steel and alu-
          minum cans, a magnet, and an information
          sheet about magnetism. This sheet should
          explain that magnets are pieces of iron or steel
          that can  attract other metals.
          Station Two should include the plastic items and a
          large container (e.g., an aquarium) filled with
          water, along with scissors and a few heavy and
          light objects. You should prepare an information
          sheet explaining that density refers to how compact
          an object is. As an example, note that a bowling
          ball  is much more dense than a foam rubber ball
          of the same size because the bowling ball  is more
          compact and made of heavier material.
          Station Three should include the paper items
          and a scale. An information sheet should
          explain that mass refers to the amount of matter
          in an object. You can weigh an object on a
          scale to  determine its mass.
          Step 4: Once the stations are set up, hand
          out worksheets, break the students up  into
          groups of three, and explain that students should
          rotate from station to station in their groups and
          fill out their worksheet as they go. Students can
          discuss answers within their groups.

          Step 5: At Station One, have students experi-
          ment with the magnet and the different cans to
          discover that some of the cans are attracted to
          the magnet while others are not. At Station Two,
          students  should compare the density of various
          plastic items. Students can compare the density
          of other  items with plastic, and can cut up plas-
          tic into pieces to see how density  is affected. At
          Station Three, students can place various paper
          items on the scale and record  the different
                                                Step 6: Discuss the questions from the work-
                                                sheet. Students should understand that recycling
                                                sorting facilities use magnets to separate the
                                                steel cans from the rest of the collected recy-
                                                clables. They should also understand that
                                                density is important Decause it can be used to
                                                identify and separate different items. Recycling
                                                sorting facilities use sinking/floating exercises to
                                                sort plastics from other materials, such as
                                                crushed glass, since plastic  containers float.
                                                Students should also understand that sorting
                                                facilities use scales to weigh the recyclable
                                                materials they receive so they know how much
                                                material is being recycled.
                                                       Assessment J
                                                1.  Ask students to explain magnetism. Ask them
                                                   why only some objects are attracted to magnets.
                                                   Which ones?
                                                2.  Ask students to explain density and how to
                                                   test for it.

                                                3.  Ask students what mass means. Have them
                                                   explain how to test something to determine
                                                   its mass.
                                                4.  Have students list some of the techniques
                                                   that sorting facilities use to separate different
                                                    2« Enrichment  J
                                                1. Visit a local recycling materials recovery
                                                   facility to see firslhand how the different recy-
                                                   clables are sorted.
                                                2. Ask students to draw their own recycling sort-
                                                   ing facility. Ask them to start with a pile of
                                                   recyclables at one end and show how the
                                                   different recyclables would be separated
                                                   (e.g., magnets, conveyor belts) as they move
                                                   through the facility. Ask them to decide
                                                   whether their diagram will only involve
                                                   machinery or whether it will involve people to
                                                   sort some of the items. Ask them to label
                                                   each of the different stations in the facility
                                                   and describe how each station works.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

                          Sorting  Statistics
           Station One
           1. How many steel cans are at Station One? Use the magnet to find out. Now, multiply that number
             by the number of students in your classroom.  If you recycled 56 percent of these cans, approxi-
             mately how many would that be? As a nation, we recycled 56 percent of our steel cans in 1 998.
          2. How would magnets help workers at a recycling sorting facility?
          3« Suppose you have 10 aluminum cans—5 containing recycled aluminum and 5 with no recycled con-
             tent (made from bauxite, the primary ore). Next, suppose it takes 5 watts of energy to make a can
             with recycled aluminum and 100 watts to make a can from bauxite.  How much energy does it take to
             make the 5 recycled-content cans? How about the 5 nonrecycled cans? Note that it takes 95 percent
             less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled aluminum versus making one from scratch.
          ft. Calculate the aluminum can recycling rate for Anywhereville, USA, given the following information:

             •  1,938 pounds of aluminum cans were recycled
             •  3,370 pounds of aluminum cans were produced
             •  There are an average of 33.04 cans per pound
             Number of cans recycled:
             Number of cans produced:
Recycling rate:
          The Quest for Less
                                                                 Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling

          Station  Two
          1. Does the size and shape of an object affect its density? Test a few different types
             of plastic objects in the water and record your results. You can cut up some plas-
             tic and try some other objects for comparison—record all results.
          2. How is testing for density helpful to a recycling sorting facility?
          3. Note that the following formula is used to determine the density of an item: density =
             mass (grams)/volume (centimeters3). Now, assume a piece of garbage—a popcorn
             bag—has a mass of 12 grams and a volume of 5 centimeters3. What is its density?
          4r. Note that water has a density of 1.0 g/cm3. Items that have a density of less than 1 float in water,
             while those that are more than 1 sink. Do plastic bottles have a density g'eater or less than 1 ?
          Station  Three
          1. Describe the characteristics of the different types of paper. How are they similar? How are
             they different? Consider color, texture, glossiness, thickness, etc.
          2. Assuming you recycle 7 newspapers a week, 365 days a year, how many news-
             papers do you recycle per year?
          3. Using the scale at Station Three, weigh a newspaper to determine its mass.
             Using your answer from question 2, what is the total mass (in pounds) of the
             newspapers you recycle each year? In tons?  (There are 2,205 pounds in a ton.)
          ft. Assuming that each ton of paper recycled saves 1 7 trees, how many trees have
             you saved by recycling your newspaper each year?
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling

                                                                     Grades 4-6
Designing  the  tTltimate
dan. £ru*her
      Objective J
         Key Vocabulary Words J
To help students understand simple machines and
manipulate materials and tools to build their own
      Activity Description J
Students work in teams to design and construct a
machine to crush aluminum cans. Students then vote
for the best design.
      Materiais Needed  J
   Construction items listed in the box below
   Wire cutters
   Ruler and/or measuring tape
         Recycle bles
         Duration J

         Set-up/design: 1 hour
         Construction: 1 to 2
                                                  Skills Used )
         Motor skills
      Activity  1
Step 1: Several days before the lesson, ask
students to bring in different construction items
from the list to the right. Be sure to store these
items in a safe place at the school where stu-
dents cannot access them and hurt themselves.
Also, note that this lesson will work best in a
shop room or similar area with plenty of open
space and  room for students to work.

Step 2: To begin the lesson, introduce the
concept of simple machines—levers, pulleys,
etc. Next, explain how simple machines are used
in the recycling process. Recycling facilities use
machines, for example, to crush aluminum cans
The Quest for Less
Construction Items
Aluminum cans
Wood scraps
Other construction items
                 Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling

                  Journal Activity J
          Ask students to describe the most
          challenging part of designing their
          can crasher. Ask them how they
          overcame this challenge.
          to make them easier to store and ship since they
          require less space when crushed (Refer to the
          Teacher Fact Sheet titled Recycling on  page 101
          for more information on this process).

          Step 3:  Divide the class into small groups of
          four or five students.

          Step 4l  Place a few aluminum cans on the
          floor. Ask a volunteer to crush the cans with his
          or her foot. Have students identify what is
          involved in crushing a can. Ask them to describe
          what happens to the can.

          Step 5:  Have students examine all of the con-
          struction materials brought to class.  Explain that
          the job of each group is to use these materials
          to design and construct a can crushing
          machine. Each group should use at least one
          "simple machine" in their construction.

          Step 6: Tell students that they should begin the
          project with a design phase. You may want to
          spend several class periods on this stage. Ask
          students to work together to draw a diagram for
          how their can crusher would work. Have them
          make a list of all of the items they will need for
          their machine. Make sure these items are
          already in the classroom or can be brought from
          home. Ask students to write instructions for how
          they will build their can crusher.  Encourage them
          to take measurements and be as detailed as

          Step 7:  Review each group's designs carefully
          to ensure they are reasonable given the materi-
          als required and time frame of the assignment.
          Ask each group to explain to you how their
          machine will work.

          Step 8: Conduct a safety lesson regarding the
          appropriate use of the tools. Ask students to use
          caution and remember that the tools are not toys.
                                                Step 9: Under close adult supervision (you
                                                might need adult volunteers to help), ask stu-
                                                dents to begin the construction phase.  It may
                                                take several class periods for students to com-
                                                plete their can crushers. Have students follow
                                                their directions carefully and encourage them to
                                                ask questions throughout the process.

                                                Step 10: Once all of the machines are con-
                                                structed, tell students that it is time to test them.
                                                Ask each group of students to demonstrate to
                                                the class how their can crusher works. Allow
                                                other students to ask questions.
                                                    ^Assessment  J
                                                1.  Ask students to explain why it is important for
                                                   recycling facilities to crush the aluminum cans.
                                                2.  Ask students why it is important to develop a
                                                   detailed design first rather than immediately
                                                   building a machine.
                                                3.  Have students exolain why it is important to
                                                   test the machine.
                                                4.  Have students exolain how the machine
                                                   makes crushing cans easier than doing it by
                                                   ^0 Enrichment J
                                                After everyone has demonstrated their crushers,
                                                have each student rank each project on a scale
                                                of 1 to 1 0 for each of several categories, such
                                                as: total cost of  materials, ease of use, efficiency,
                                                size, safety, effectiveness, time to construct, etc.
                                                1. Organize a recycling drive for aluminum cans
                                                   at your school. The can crusher contest can
                                                   be used to draw attention to the  drive. The
                                                   can crushers designed by the students can be
                                                   used to help  store the cans more easily
                                                   before they are taken to a recycling center.
                                                2. Invite a local recycling coordinator or recy-
                                                   cling professional to your class to talk with
                                                   students about what he or she does. Ask the
                                                   visitor to bring in pictures of baled, crushed
                                                   recyclables as w&ll as samples of recycled
                                                   products, if possible.
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling
The Quest for Less

Learn  t0  Recycle
       Objective J
To teach students the specifics of recycling in their com-
munity or help them understand why their community
does not recycle.
       Activity Description J
Students will research local recycling options, includ-
ing where to recycle, what can be recycled, and how
to prepare recyclables.
       Materials Needed J
                                                                                Grades 7-8
   Supplies for presentation (will differ depending on
   Computer with Internet access
               Duration J
                Day 1: 1 hour+
                Day 2: 1 hour
               Skills Used )

               Key Vocabulary Words J
               Materials Recovery Facility
Step 1: Explain to students that local gov-
ernments and private companies usually
manage solid waste and recycling. It is impor-
tant that they understand what can be
recycled to ensure proper recycling processes.
(Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled
Recycling on  page  101.)

Step 2: Assign specific research tasks to dif-
ferent groups of students. One group should
make calls, search the Internet, or visit the
local library to find out where to recycle
locally (e.g.,  curbside service, drop-off loca-
tions). Another group should find out what
items can be recycled and how to prepare
those items for recycling (e.g., rinse plastic
bottles and remove lids). Another group can
The Quest fop Less
discover how, when, and where to recycle
nonstandard items (e.g., paint, electronics,
packing peanuts, motor oil, batteries, hang-
ers, fluorescent light bulbs, scrap tires).

Research can be conducted in the classroom,
after school, or at home.

If students speak to a recycling official, have
them inquire about recycling collection meth-
ods. Are the items separated by type or mixed
together and sorted later? How does collection
at businesses differ from household collection
or collection at apartment buildings?

Students may also inquire about where their
recyclables are sent after they are collected.
What types of products are made from their
recyclables? How are the materials processed
to create other products?
                        Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling

          Step 3: Each group should work together to
          present their findings. The presentations can be
          verbal, computer-based, artistic, etc. Presentations
          could be aimed at persuading a neighbor, family
          member, another student, or others, to recycle.
              ^ Enrichment J
           1.  Using the research already collected, or by
              doing additional research,  have the students
              take a closer look at recyclables. Visit trade
              association and other Web sites to find out
              three facts for specific commodities (e.g.,
              aluminum, glass bottles, paper, plastics, steel
              cans). What do the numbers imprinted  on
              plastic containers mean? What percent of
              recycled steel  is used to make a new steel
              can? How long does it take for aluminum
              cans to be recycled? Sample sites include
              , ,
              , and
                                                   . List the facts in the work-
                                                   sheet and use it as the basis for a class

                                                2. Use the information gathered to create a
                                                   brochure, fact sheet, or video  explaining
                                                   "How to Recycle" in your community. Make
                                                   copies for students of all grade levels to
                                                   share with their oarents or hand out at
                                                   community events/locations (e.g., local
                                                   library, township administration building).
                                                   Coordinate with your local recycling offi-
                                                   cials to see samoles of similar publications
                                                   they may have produced or to have them
                                                   check the accuracy of the information you
                                                   are providing.

                                                3. Start a school recycling club that students
                                                   can join to  learn about recycling  and to
                                                   serve as the recycling watchdog at school
                                                   and within the community.

                                                4. Let students see "irst hand what happens to
                                                   trash and recyclables by taking a field trip to
                                                   the local landfill and  recycling center.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
The Quest for Less

                      Student Handout
Ju$t the fact*
 Research Sources:
 Facts Learned:
.The Quest for Less
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling    13 3



                                                                                   Grades 4-8
'Recycling  Include*
       Objective J

To introduce students to electronics recycling.
       Activity Description J
Assess different types of household electronics, their
lifespan, and opportunities for recycling them.
             Key Vocabulary Words J
             Life cycle
            Duration J

             Two classroom periods
       Materials Needed
   Worksheet:  Electronics Inventory
   Life Cycle of a Cell Phone Poster (to order a free
   poster, call EPA at (800) 490-9198 and reference doc-
   ument number EPA530-H-04-002)
            Skills Used )
Step  1: Provide students with an overview
of the life cycle of electronics. The "life cycle"
includes all aspects of the life of the electron-
ics—from mining raw materials to
manufacturing to disposal or recycling. Use
the  information below as well as the Life  Cycle
of a Cell Phone  poster as sources of informa-
tion for this discussion. Students can complete
the  activities on the poster as part of the  class-
room activity. You can also consult the Web
site  for more back-
ground information.

Ask students to think of ways they can con-
serve the  precious resources locked inside
used electronics and how they  can prevent
pollution from disposal. Have them create a
personal "to do" list addressing these issues.
Electronics are made from many different resources, includ-
ing plastic (made from petroleum) and various metals
(mined from the earth). That's why recycling electronics is so
important—to recover these materials to use again.
Recycling electronics requires demanufacturing, or disman-
tling, them, which is labor-intensive, but it yields valuable
resources that can be used to make new electronics or other
products. In 1998, more than 112 million pounds of materi-
als were recovered from electronics including steel, glass,
plastic, and precious metals.

Electronics (especially computers) become outdated very
quickly and need to be replaced often. In fact, nearly 250
million computers will become obsolete in the next 5 years.
When no longer used, electronics are often thrown away,
ending up in landfills and incinerators. Electronics can con-
tain substances that can contaminate the soil and ground
water. In fact, TVs and computers can contain an average of
4 pounds of lead (depending on their size, make, and vin-
tage) as well as other potential toxics like cadmium, mercury,
beryllium, nickel, zinc, and brominated flame retardants.
The Quest for Less
                       Unit 2, Chapter 2.2. Recycling

         Step 2: For homework, ask students to take
         stock of the electronics in their home using the
         Electronics Inventory worksheet. They should
         inventory their entire household, noting all elec-
         tronics—from computers to DVD players  to
         calculators. They should estimate each item's
         life span and recyclability (e.g., computers must
         be replaced every few years, while calculators
         last longer). In addition, they should also think
         about where and how each item can be  recy-
         cled/reused (e.g., donated to charity, sent back
         to the manufacturer, demanufactured).

         If time permits, students may also want to con-
         tact electronics companies or use the Internet to
         find out which companies offer take-back pro-
         grams for used electronics. Students can  ask the
         companies or search the  Web to find out if the
         products in their homes contain recycled-content
         materials or are designed for easier recycling.

         Students may also want to contact their local
         government's solid waste office and ask  for rec-
         ommendations about recycling or donating used

         Step 3: Discuss the results of the students'
         electronics inventories (see Assessment for dis-
         cussion questions).
                                                       Assessment J
                                                Ask students which electronics have the longest
                                                life span and why. Is it because of technology
                                                changes or better physical design? Do the
                                                newer models have more or fewer environmen-
                                                tal impacts? How often do  people need to buy
                                                new models of electronics? What else did stu-
                                                dents learn from  their home inventories?  How
                                                does what they learned apply to other items  in
                                                their home?
                                                   ^ Enrichment J
                                                1.  Invite a local recycling official to speak to the
                                                   class about electronics recycling and/or local
                                                   electronics recycling events.
                                                2.  Take a field trip to an electronics recycling

                                                3.  Ask students to think about questions they
                                                   could ask electronics store employees the
                                                   next time they are shopping.  Do they accept
                                                   used electronics for recycling? Do they know
                                                   an organization lhat accepts  them?
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling
                                                                                        The Quest ton Less


The Quest for Less
Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling




Grade  • Subject •  Skills Index
                        Compost Critters        Compost Chefs         Compost Crops
Worms at Work


         Language Arts
         Social Studies


         Problem Solving

Motor Skills
          ''See Glossary of Skills for more details.
    Unit 2, Chapter 2.3, Composting
  The Quest for Less

                                                                    Teacher  ?act $heet
C       Composting
           What  Is Composting?
           Composting is the controlled thermophilic (] 30°-
           1 50°F) decomposition of organic materials such
           as leaves, grass, and food scraps by various
           organisms. Composting can be divided into three
           types: backyard, or home, composting; vermi-
           composting; and heat-based composting.

           Home composting is the natural degradation of
           yard trimmings, food scraps, wood ashes, shred-
           ded paper, coffee grounds, and other household
           organic waste by naturally occurring microscopic
           organisms. Vemnicomposting is the natural
           degradation of similar household organic waste
           using naturally occurring microscopic organisms
           and the digestive process of earthworms. Heat-
           based composting is performed by municipal or
           commercial facilities that increase the  rate of
           degradation using high temperatures.

           Varying amounts of  heat, water, air, and food
           produce different qualities of compost as a final
           product. Heat-based compost differs from com-
           post produced at ambient temperatures  (e.g., a
                             forest floor or home com-
                             posting)  because high
                             temperatures destroy both
                             weed seeds and pathogens.
                             Composts produced by all
                             three systems are crumbly,
                             earthy-smelling, soil-like
                             materials with a variety of
                             beneficial organisms.
                    Key Point*
                    •  Composting is the controlled decompo-
                       sition of organic materials.
                    •  There are three methods-of composting:
                       home OP backyard composting, verroi-
                       composting, and heat-based
                    •  Invertebrates and microorganisms in
                       compost are key to the breakdown of
                       the organic materials into a rich soil-like
                    •  Quality compost is the result of the prop-
                       er mixture of carbon and nitrogen
                       sources and adequate amounts of mois-
                       ture, oxygen, and time. Certain food items
                       should be avoided when home composting.
                    •  More than 67 percent of the waste
                       produced in the United States (including
                       paper) is compostable material.
                    •  Compost is a valuable product that can
                       be used as a soil amendment, mulch, or
                       even to decontaminate natural habitats,
                       storm water, and brownf ields.
                    •  Composting helps divert a large portion
                       of America's organic trash from landfills
                       and combustion facilities.
           Worms—A Composter's Best Friend
           Vermicomposting is a method of composting using a special kind of earthworm known as a red wig-
           gler (E/sen/a fef/da), which eats its weight in organic matter each day. Vermicomposting is typically
           done in a covered container with a bedding of dirt, newspaper, or leaves. Food scraps (without
           added fats) can then be added as food for the worms. Over time, the food will be replaced with
           worm droppings, a rich brown matter that is an excellent natural plant food. Vermicomposting
           requires less space than normal composting methods, and is therefore ideal for cassrooms, apart-
           ments, ar
           The Quest for Less
roan areas.
                                        Unit 2. Chapter 2.3. Composting

          Composting in Action
          An easy way to understand all the factors that
          go into composting  is with a hands-on demon-
          stration. A school can provide the perfect
          medium for these demonstrations. Classes
          could start a composting bin  using food scraps
          from the cafeteria and yard trimmings from
          ground maintenance. Depending on the scope
          of the project, the compost could then be sold
          to the community in addition  to being used on
          the school campus.  Tour a local composting
          facility, if composting cannot be done at
          school. For more information on  how to
          start  a school composting project, go to the
          Cornell  University composting Web site at
           or use these
          suggested  activities to get you started:

          •  Start a  compost  pile or bin in the school or
             as a class experiment.
          •  Try using compost in  place of chemical fer-
             tilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Use
             compost made by the school  or buy it from
             municipalities or private companies.
                                               The decomposition of organic materials in com-
                                               posting involves both physical and chemical
                                               processes. During decomposition, organic
                                               materials are broken down through the activities
                                               and appetites of bacteria, fungi, and various
                                               invertebrates that will naturally appear in com-
                                               post, such as mites, millipedes, beetles,
                                               sowbugs, earwigs, earthworms, slugs, and
                                               snails. These microorganisms and insects found
                                               in decomposing ma'ter need adequate moisture
                                               and oxygen to degrade the organic materials in
                                               the most efficient manner.

           How Does Composting Work?
           Compost contains both carbon and nitrogen
           sources, which can be simplified as browns
           (e.g., leaves, straw, woody materials) and
           greens (e.g., grass and food scraps), respective-
           ly. Adequate sources of carbon and nitrogen are
           important for microorganism growth and energy.
           The ideal ratio is 30 parts brown to 1  part
           green. Odor and other problems can  occur if
           the ratio or any of the factors discussed below
           are not right.

           The browns  and greens can be mixed together
           to form compost in a backyard bin or in a
           municipal compost facility. Whether the com-
           posting is done on a small scale or large, the
           composting  process is the same. To encourage
           decomposition throughout the pile, the compost
           should be kept  moist and turned periodically.
                                               What Are the Benefits of
                                               As a method of handling the large amount of
                                               organic waste created in the United States each
                                               day, composting makes good environmental
                                               sense. Instead of throwing organic materials
                                               away, they can be tu'ned into a useful resource.

                                               In addition, many organic wastes are not ideally
                                               suited for disposal in combustion facilities or
                                               landfills. Food scraps and yard trimmings tend to
                                               make inferior fuel for combustors because of their
                                               high moisture content.  Decomposition of organic
                                               wastes in landfills can create methane, a green-
                                               house gas that is environmentally harmful
                                               because it destroys atmospheric ozone.

                                               Because yard trimmings and food scraps make
                                               up about 24 percent of the waste U.S. house-
                                               holds generate (EPA, 2003), backyard or home
                                               composting can greatly reduce the amount of

Unit 2, Chapter 2.3, Composting
The Quest for Less

waste that ends up in landfills or combustors. In
addition, compost is a valuable product that can
be used as a soil additive for backyard gardens
and farm lands or in highway beautification and
other landscape projects.

The benefits don't end there—composting also
makes good economic sense. Composting can
reduce a community's solid waste transporta-
tion, disposal,  and  processing costs. In many
communities, residents pay for each bag or can
of trash they put  out for pickup. If a household
is composting, it will most likely put less in  trash
cans and will  pay a smaller trash bill.

In backyards and on the community level, inter-
est in composting has increased rapidly over the
past several years. Yard trimmings programs
constitute the large majority of composting
operations in the United States. In these pro-
grams, community members place their yard
trimmings in a separate bag or container at the
curb, which is  collected and taken to a munici-
pal composting facility. These facilities create
large amounts of compost, which, in many
cases, is sold  back to community members.
People can also purchase compost created by
private composting companies.
           While composting increases the rate of natural
           organic decomposition, it still takes months for
           compost to mature. If compost is used while it is
           still "cooking," the high temperatures could kill
           the plant life on which it is spread. In addition,
           using compost before it is ready can encourage
           weed growth because the high temperatures of
           the pile have not  had a chance to kill any
           potential weed seeds.
           What Are Some  Emerging Trends
           in Composting?
           A large amount of organic waste is created by
           institutions, restaurants, and grocery stores—
           perfect for compost. Across the country, many of
What Are the
Challenges Associated
With Composting?
Creating quality compost
requires the right mix of mate-
rials and attention to moisture,
particle size, and temperature.
Too little moisture will slow the
decomposition, but too much
can create odor problems. To
avoid attracting pests and
rodents, composters should
monitor the food scraps put in
the compost pile. Meat scraps,
fats, and oils are difficult items
to compost, attract pests, and
should be kept away from the
compost pile, and thrown away
The Quest for Less
What Can Go Into a Composting Bin?
This list is not meant to be all inclusive. Some food products
should not be included because they can attract pests or
compromise ffie quality of the compost.
Materials to Include
Fruit and
Tea baas
Coffee grounds with filters
Egg shells
Fireplace ash
Nonrecyclable paper
Vacuum cleaner lint
Fish scraps
Materials to Exclude
Dairy foods
Pet excrement
Diseased plants
Oils (including peanut
butter and  mayonnaise)
                                Unit 2, Chapter 2.3, Composting

          these businesses are participating in pilot proj-
          ects to compost their food scraps and soiled
          paper products. These businesses can not only
          provide a valuable component of compost—
          organic material—but also can  reduce their
          waste disposal costs significantly.

          Compost is also being used as an innovative
          technology to clean up land contaminated by
          hazardous wastes, remove contaminants from
                                                 storm water, facilitate reforestation, and restore
                                                 wetlands and other natural habitats. Compost
                                                 has been used to restore soil that is contaminat-
                                                 ed with explosives, munitions wastes, petroleum,
                                                 fuel wastes, and lead and other metals. In
                                                 addition, various biodegradable tableware
                                                 and dishes have been developed;  in particular,
                                                 cups and plates  made with a cellulose-based
                                                 vegetable polymer.

           Additional Information Resources:
           Visit the following Web sites for more information on composting and solid wasle:

           •   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
           •   U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site on composting:
           •   Cornell University composting site: 
           •   U.S. Composting Council Web site: 
           To Order the following additional documents on municipal solid waste and composting, call EPA
           toll-free at (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site

           •   Innovative Uses of Compost Erosion Control, Turf Remediation, and Landscaping
           •   A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM

Unit 2, Chapter 2.3. Composting
The Quest for Less

       Objective J
To teach students that nature can "recycle" its own
       Activity Description J
Students will search for and observe some of nature's
recyclers at work, learning what role each plant or ani-
mal plays in the recycling process.
       Materials Needed  J
   An outdoor area, such as a yard, park, or garden,
   that offers access to some of the following: rocks,
   trees (dead and living), leaf litter, mushrooms
   One or two teacher's aides or parents to help
   facilitate the outdoor adventure (optional)
   Several sheets of drawing paper and pencils or
   crayons per student
   One clear viewing container with holes
                                                                                    Grades K-1
                Key Vocabulary Words J
                Duration J

                Outdoor expedition:
                1 hour
                In-class follow-up:
                30 minutes
                Skills Used  )
                Motor skills
       Activity J
Step  1: Visit your chosen outdoor area prior
to the class trip in order to make sure it is suit-
able for viewing nature's recyclers. Scout out
four specific "stations" for the students to visit,
including a live tree, an old decomposing log,
a large rock (or board) in the soil, and a leaf-
covered patch of soil. To draw insects to a
specific spot, you might want to plant a log  or
board in the soil several days in advance.

Step  2:  Discuss recycling with  the students
and explain the following concepts (refer to
the  Teacher Fact Sheet titled Composf/ng on
page 141  for background information):
•  Why we recycle and why nature also needs
   to recapture the value of its organic waste.
•  What kinds of "trash" get "recycled" in
•  Who recycles these materials. Discuss the
   plants and animals, such as snails, slugs,
   beetles, millipedes, earthworms, fungi, pill-
   bugs, snowbugs, mushrooms, and  lichen
   that perform nature's recycling work.

Step 3:  Divide the class into small groups of
three to four students. Explain that the students
are now adventurers on a mission to locate and
study nature's recyclers at work. Remind students
that it's very important to observe, but not touch
or disturb the recyclers or their habitat.

Step 4:  Lead the students to your predeter-
mined outdoor area and stop at each of the
four stations. At each station, first lead a dis-
cussion (see below) and then give each group
The Quest for Less
                        (Jnit 2. Chapter 2.3, Composting

           of students the chance to get up close and make
           individual observations. A list of suggested topics
           and discussion questions for each station fol-

           Station # 1 -Live Tree
           •   Ask students  what makes the tree grow.
              Where are its roots? Where does it get its
              food from?

           •   Will the tree  live forever?
           •   Are its leaves falling to the ground?

           Station #2-Dead, Decaying Log
           •   Ask students  how this tree is different from
              the live one.
           •   Have them touch and smell its bark.  How  is
              it different than the live bark? Is  it dry or

           •   Do the students see evidence of  the wood
              being eaten? By what?

           •   Have the students look in the crevices and
              cracks for any of nature's recyclers at work. If
              they see ants, spiders,  millipedes, mush-
              rooms, etc.,  ask them the following
               - Is it a  plant or animal?
               - What's its name?
               - How does it move? How many legs does
                 it have?
               - What color is  it?
               - Why is it  living under this dead log? What
                 does it eat?
               - How many of these creatures are living

           •   If it's possible (and safe), capture a few of
              these recyclers in your clear container and let
              the students  view them up close. You may
              want to impose an item limit to prevent too
              much disruption for the critters. Students
              could draw the recyclers they see in nature
              or  wait until  they  return to the classroom and
              draw from memory. Make a point of return-
              ing the creatures safely to their homes after
              the viewing is over.
                                                Station #3-Large Rock or Board

                                                •  Have the students watch as you carefully lift
                                                   the rock from its position. Ask students to
                                                   look at what's underneath it.
                                                •  What's it like under the rock? Is it dark and

                                                •  Can the students see any of nature's recy-
                                                   clers at work here? If they do see life, ask
                                                   them the same questions as above:
                                                     - Is it a plant or animal?
                                                     - What's its name?

                                                     - How does it nove? How many  legs does
                                                      it have?
                                                     - What color is it?

                                                     - Why is it living under this rock or board?
                                                      What does it
                                                     - How many of these creatures are living

                                                Station #4-Leaf Litter and Soil
                                                •  Have the students use their hands to dig
                                                   through the leaves and into the soil.
                                                •  Ask them to compare these leaves to the
                                                   leaves still on the live tree. How are they dif-
                                                   ferent? Are these leaves older?  Are they wet
                                                   or dry?
                                                •  Have the students look for evidence of
                                                   nature's recyclers; again, identify and discuss
                                                   any animals or plants that they  find.
                                                •  Ask the students to feel and smell the soil.
                                                   How does it compare to the dead  log they
                                                   visited earlier?

                                                Step 5: Before returning to the classroom,
                                                visit  the live tree station  again. Ask students to
                                                think again about wnere this tree gets its food.
                                                Discuss how the decaying log, busy creatures,
                                                and  moist, rich soil all play a role in  keeping the
                                                tree  alive.
If 6
(Jnit 2, Chapter 2.3. Composting
The Quest for Less


     ^Assessment  J
 1. Back in the classroom, pass out paper and
   colored pencils or crayons to the students.
   Have each student draw one of the recyclers
   he or she saw outside. Ask  each student to
   verbally describe to the class how this crea-
   ture  moves, what it's called, and what
   recycling role it plays in nature.
 2. Ask the students how they are like nature's
   recyclers. Do they recycle anything at home?
   How does it get reused?
 3. Have the students draw a tree in different
   stages  of its life, showing the tree  1) bud-
   ding, 2)  in full growth, 3) with leaves falling,
   4) as a dead tree, having fallen as a log and
   decaying back into the earth, and 5) as a
   new tree growing from the soil.
   ^ Enrichment  J
1.  Engage students in a role-playing activity.
   Have students pretend that they are different
   recyclers (ants, millipedes, worms, mush-
   rooms, spiders). Ask the students how these
   animals or plants moved or behaved. Have
   the students  imitate this behavior.
2.  Study nature's recyclers in the winter by col-
   lecting  some leaf litter, bringing it inside, and
   warming it with a lamp.  Dormant recyclers,
   such as millipedes, ants, spiders, and worms
   will come to life under the heat.
3.  Conduct another nature walk, this time giv-
   ing each student a recyclable paper bag.
   Have them collect dead  leaves, sticks, nuts,
   or other teacher-approved items on their
   walk. When  students return to the classroom,
   discuss what role these items have in nature
   and in  the natural cycle of life. Is the item
   dead or alive, what is it called, is there any
   evidence of  nature's recyclers at work?  Help
   them glue or tape these  items on a piece  of
   construction  paper and display them. Have
   the students  perform  leaf rubbings by placing
   a leaf under a piece of paper and coloring
   over it to reveal its shape and texture. Ask
   the students  to explore how each leaf is simi-
   lar or different from others.
The Quest for Less
                      Unit 2, Chapter 2.3, Composting



       Objective  J
            Key Vocabulary Words  J
To teach students how composting can prevent food
scraps and yard trimmings from being thrown away and
how different components, such as air, moisture, and
nitrogen, affect composting.
       Activity Description J
Students will create four compost bins that differ in their
amounts of air, moisture, and nitrogen. Students will
observe and record the differences these conditions
cause in the composting process.
       Materials Needed  J
   Four thin, plastic buckets (5 gallons each) or other
   plastic container (e.g., milk jug)
   One hand drill or punch-type can opener
   One copy of the Compost Chef worksheet per student
   Grass clippings (shredded, if possible)
   Vegetable and fruit peels
   Weeds (shredded, if possible)
   Hay (shredded, if possible)
   Coffee grinds
   One marker or pen
   Four pieces of construction paper (3 by 5 inches each)
   Garden trowel
            Duration J

             Set-up: 1  hour
             Follow-up: 15 minutes to
             1  hour on an occasional
             basis for up to 4 weeks
            Skills Used )
             Motor skills
Step  11 Photocopy and distribute one copy
of the Compost Chef worksheet to each stu-
dent. Introduce the following concepts (refer
to Teacher Fact Sheet titled Composing on
page 141 for background information):
Explain to the class what compost is and
how it is made.
Discuss why composting is important in
managing and reducing trash that is sent
to landfills.
Explain how composting works, and how
nitrogen, oxygen, and water all play a part
in the creation of compost.
The Quest for Less
                     Unit 2. Chapter 2. Composting

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to pretend they are
          gardeners. Ask them if they would
          use compost to help their gardens
          grow. Why or why not?
          Step 2: Pick an appropriate project space.
          This activity can either be conducted in an
          indoor area of the classroom that has been
          covered with a protective drop cloth or in a
          designated area outside  of the school. If you
          choose to leave the compost buckets outside,
          make sure the chosen area will not be disturbed
          by recess or after-school  activity. Use the hand
          drill and carefully poke several holes in the sides
          (near the bottom) of three of the buckets or .
          milk jugs.
          Step 3: Have the students sit in a circle within
          view of you and the compost buckets. Divide the
          class into four groups and assign a group of
          students to each bucket. Using the construction
          paper and marker, label the buckets "one"
          through "four."

          Step 4: Work with each group of students to
          set up the buckets. As each  mixture is created,
          discuss its ingredients and ask students to record
          the "recipe" on their Compost Chef worksheets.
          Following are directions for setting up each
                                               Bucket #1-Compost lacking nitrogen.
                                               •  Place mostly "brown" carbon-containing
                                                  materials  in the bucket, such as dead leaves,
                                                  straw, and coffee grounds. On top, add a
                                                  few vegetable and fruit peels.
                                               •  Moisten, but do not soak, the mixture with

                                               Bucket #2-Compost lacking moisture.
                                               •  Place a mixture of "green" grass clippings
                                                  (make sure they are dry), bloodmeal, and
                                                  vegetable and fruit peels in the  bucket.
                                               •  Place a few layers of "brown" dead leaves,
                                                  straw, and coffee grounds into the mixture.
                                               •  Do not add any water.

                                               Bucket #3-Compost lacking air
                                               •  Use the bucket without the holes.

                                               •  Place several layers of mostly high-nitrogen
                                                  grass clippings, bloodmeal, vegetable peels,
                                                  and fruit peels in the bucket.
                                               •  Moisten the mixture with water.

                                               Bucket #4-"Perfect" Compost.
                                               •  Layer (in an alternating pattern)  leaves, cof-
                                                  fee grounds, straw, and vegetable and fruit
                                                  peels, and a small amount of grass clippings
                                                  in the bucket.
                                               •  Moisten the mixture with water.
                                               Step 5:  Explain that, as compost chefs, the
                                               students must monitor their creations. Give each
                                               group written instructions on how to care for its
                                               compost bucket over the next few weeks. For

                                               Bucket #1
                                               •  Use a garden trowel to stir your compost
                                                  mixture regularly: once every 3  days for the
                                                  first 2 weeks, then once  per week.
                                               •  Add a dash of moisture to your  compost mix-
                                                  ture with a sprinkle of water every other week.
Unit 2, Chapter 2. Composting
The Quest for Less

Bucket #2
•  Use the garden trowel to stir your compost
   mixture regularly: once every 3 days for the
   first 2 weeks, then once per week.
•  Keep your compost mixture dry.

Bucket #3
•  Add a sprinkle of water to your compost mix-
   ture every week.
•  Make sure you don't stir your mixture.

Bucket #4
•  Add a sprinkle of water to your compost mix-
   ture every week.
•  Use the garden trowel to stir your mixture
   regularly: once every 3 days for the first 2
   weeks, then once per week.
Step 6: At each interval of stirring or water-
ing, have all of the groups visit each compost
bucket and record their findings, including tem-
perature, appearance, and smell. Students can
use their Compost Chef worksheets for this task.
Step 7: After 4 weeks, have the students use
the trowels to dig into each compost pile and
examine it closely. Ask them to compare and
contrast the compost in each bucket. Ask stu-
dents  which mixture decomposed the most.

Step 8:  Use the finished compost from Bucket
#4 as soil for classroom plants or a garden.
Have  students explore  how compost aids new
vegetative growth.
                  Assessment  J
              Ask students to list the most important ingre-
              dients for a good compost pile (nitrogen,
              water, and air circulation). Have them
              explain what role each ingredient plays in
              decomposition. Ask each group to name the
              missing ingredient in its mixture (Group #4
              won't have a missing  ingredient).
                                                          2. Have the students explain how composting
                                                             reduces the amount of waste that we send to
                                                          3. Ask students to think of places in nature
                                                             where composting might occur naturally.
                                                         9 ^ Enrichment J
Collect and evaluate the data on each stu-
dent's Composf Chef worksheet. Have the
students create charts or graphs based on
the temperature data they collected. Which
pile had the highest mean temperature?
What does a high temperature mean in
terms of decomposition?
Explore composting as a natural cycle. Study
the nitrogen cycle and have students make
diagrams of its components. (The nitrogen
cycle is the continuous cyclic progression  of
chemical reactions in  which atmospheric
nitrogen is compounded, dissolved in rain,
deposited  in soil, assimilated, and metabo-
lized.) Use composting as a lead-in to
discuss other natural cycles.
Start a schoolwide compost bin using the
appropriate wastes from school lunches.
Have students decide which wastes can be
added to the pile and have different classes
watch over and  stir the pile each week. Have
each participating class start a small flower
garden plot, using the compost as a soil
           The Quest for Less
                                                                      Unit 2, Chapter 2, Composting

$t\xd*nt   Handout
                                                              Week 4  \Smeii:
   Week 2
                      Week 4


                        Week 1
    Week 2 \Appearance:
Temperature:         >^ Smell:
                      Week 4
   Week 2
                                                    Week 4



                                                                                Grades 3-8
Comport Crepe
'Prerequisite:* This activity involves the use of previously made compost. Your students can use the compost they made
from completing one of the following activities: Compost Chefs or Worms at Work.
       Objective J
To teach students how composting can prevent food
scraps and yard trimmings from being thrown away and
to show them the usefulness of compost in gardening.
       Activity Description J
Students will assess the effectiveness of compost as a
soil amendment by planting and comparing two garden
plots—one that relies just on dirt and one that relies on
their homemade compost.
       Materials Needed J
   *Compost* (See prerequisite above)
   Two 4- by 4-foot garden plots in the schoolyard
   Two packets of flower seeds (have your students
   vote on the type and color)
   Two seed packets of a vegetable that grows well
   in your locale
   One watering can
   Two garden trowels
   One copy of the Compost Crop worksheet per student
   One tape measure or ruler
               Key Vocabulary Words J
               Duration J
               Setup:  1 hour
               Follow-up each week:
               1 5 minutes
               Skills Used )
               Motor skills
Step 1: Locate and mark the two school-
yard garden plots you plan to use, making
sure they receive plenty of direct sunlight.
Secure permission for gardening from the
proper school authorities.

Step 2: Discuss composting with the stu-
dents and explain the following concepts (refer
to the Teacher Fact Sheet titled Composting
on page 141 for background information):
•  Recap how the students made the compost
   and what materials they used.
The Quest for Less
•  Discuss how this compost can now be used
   in a garden.
•  Explain why compost can be more effective
   than just natural soil.

Step 3: Take the class outside to the garden
plots and divide the students into two groups.
Explain how the composting experiment will
work. Tell one group that they will only add
water to the soil to help their plants grow.
Give the other group a bucket of compost
and tell them to use the trowels to mix it into
their soil before watering it.
                        Unit 2, Chapter 2, Composting

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to pretend they are
          world-famous gardeners giving
          an interview about the secrets
          of their success. How do they
          make their plants grow so well?
          Step 4: Have each group plant flower seeds
          and vegetable seeds according to packet
          instructions in their respective plots.

          Step 5: Ask the students to predict which plot
          will grow better and faster. Have them record
          their predictions and reasoning on their
          Composf Crop worksheets.

          Step 6: Break each of the two  groups into
          pairs of students  and assign each pair a week
          during which they are gardeners.  During that
          week, those students are responsible for visiting
          their group's plot each day. They  should water it
          and use the tape measure or ruler to record any
          changes in plant growth on their  Composf Crop
          worksheets.  Create a gardener calendar for the
          classroom to remind students when it's their turn
          to watch over the plots.

          Step 7: After 4 or 5 weeks, have the entire
          class visit the garden plots again.  Discuss which
          plot's plants grew faster. Ask student volunteers to
          gently dig  up one plant from each plot.  Have the
          students examine and compare the root structures
          of each plant. Have several students dig around
          in the plots'  soil, discuss the differences in texture
          or moisture they find, and have them notice  how
          many earthworms or bugs they find.

          Step 8: If the vegetables in the plot are ripe,
          pick them and have a class snack from the
          compost harvest.
                  Assessment J
                                                             ^ Enrichment J
           1.  Have students list the benefits of composting,
              both from the standpoint of preventing waste
              and as a garden soil supplement.
                                               1. Use the two garden plots as .a lead-in to a
                                                  more in-depth science lesson on soil and
                                                  compost. Compare the relative amounts of
                                                  materials in different soil samples.  Have stu-
                                                  dent volunteers collect a handful of soil from
                                                  each plot. For each sample, fill a liter (or
                                                  quart) jar about one-quarter full of soil, then
                                                  add water to about the three-quarter level.
                                                  Screw the  lid on tightly and shake  hard for
                                                  about a minute. Let the jars stand for several
                                                  minutes. The mixture will separate  into  lay-
                                                  ers, with the largest particles (gravel and
                                                  sand) settling on the bottom, and finer parti-
                                                  cles (clay and silt) settling above. Organic
                                                  matter—leaves, twigs,  and  any animal  mat-
                                                  ter—will float on  top of the water.  Discuss
                                                  the differences between the soil and com-
                                                  post/soil plot samples. Explore the
                                                  components of your local soil  and compost.
                                               2. Have the students compile their measure-
                                                  ments and recordings from their Composf
                                                  Crop worksheets  on the board. Depending
                                                  on the age group, ask all of the students to
                                                  make graphs charting the growth in each
                                                  plot. Ask them why plants in the compost
                                                  plot grew  more quickly.
                                               3. Discuss the root structures of the plants from
                                                  the different plots. Ask students if the plant
                                                  from the compost plot was more developed
                                                  in its root  structure? Why?
                                               4. Ask the students to think about the differ-
                                                  ences in the soil of the two plots. Did they
                                                  see more  earthworms in the compost plot?
                                                  Why? Why would these creatures be attract-
                                                  ed by the  compost? How did the presence of
                                                  earthworms affect the growth of the plants?

                                               5. Start a schoolwide compost bin using the
                                                  appropriate wastes from school lunches.
                                                  Have students decide which wastes can be
                                                  added to the compost pile and have different
                                                  classes watch over and stir the pile each
                                                  week.  Have each  participating class start a
                                                  small flower garden plot, using the compost
                                                  as a soil amendment.
Unit 2. Chapter 2, Composting
The Quest for Less

                 Student Handout

          Crop Worksheet
Amount of
Water Added
Soil Status
(How It Looks
and Smells)
Presence of
Plant Growth?
Which Plants?
Measurement of
Plant Growth
Thoughts or
Day 1
Plot #1
(just soil)
Plot #2
(compost and soil)

Day 2
Plot #1
(just soil)
Plot #2
(compost and soil)

Day 3
(just soil)
Plot #2
(compost and soil)

Day 4
(just soil)
Plot #2
(compost and soil)

Day 5
Plot #1
(just soil)
-Plot #2
(compost and soil)

The Quest for Less
Unit 2. Chapter 2, Composting


Worm*  at "Wiwk
       Objective J
To teach students that food scraps and yard trimmings
can be made into compost instead of being thrown away.
       Activity Description  J
Students will create a compost bin using worms and
food scraps and monitor changes in the bin over time.
       Materials Needed  J
   Large plastic bin (about 8 to 1 6 inches deep) with
   holes in the bottom for aeration
   Tray for underneath the bin
   Two bricks or other large sturdy objects
   9 to  1 4 pounds of newspaper
   One bag of potting soil
   1  pound of red worms
   Food scraps (such as bread, vegetables, fruits,
   eggshells, grains, coffee grounds, tea bags)  Do NOT
   include meat, bones, mayonnaise, fish, peanut butter,
   candy, or nonfood items
   Tarp or drop cloth
   Bucket or other carrying container
   Household gloves (optional)
   Copy of Verm/'composf/ng Dafa Sheer for each student
                                                                               Grades 4-8
               Key Vocabulary Words J
                                                         Duration J
               Setup: 1 hour
               Follow-up: 15 minutes to
               1 hour on an occasional
               Skills Used )
               Motor skills
       Activity  1
Step 1: Explain to the class what compost is
and how it is made (refer to the Teacher Fact
Sheet titled Composting on page 141). Discuss
the use of worms, the need for and use of
organic waste, and other vocabulary words.
During the course of this lesson, inform
students of good and bad foods to use in
composting, as well as the reason why it is bet-
ter to compost than to throw food scraps away.
Step 2: Place bin on top of two bricks and
put tray under bin.

Step 3: Have the students tear each sheet
of newspaper lengthwise into strips that are 1
to 3 inches wide and place half of the pile in
the bin.

Step 4: Have the students multiply the num-
ber of pounds of newspaper by 3 to determine
the total amount of water needed (a pint of
water weighs a pound, and a gallon of water
The Quest for Less
                       Unit 2, Chapter 2, Composting

                 Journal Activity J
          Have students write a poem, such
          as a limerick, that describes what
          compost looks like and how it
          feels when touched.
          weighs 8 pounds). Then add half of the water to
          the bin with newspapers.

          Step  5: Sprinkle two handfuls of soil and the
          rest of the newspaper and water.  Have the stu-
          dents mix the contents well and distribute evenly
          in the bin.

          Step  6: Gently place the worms on top of the
          bedding, spreading them evenly.  Keep the bin
          uncovered so the students will see the worms
          moving down into the bedding to Ovoid light.

          Step  7: Use the attached data sheet to record
          all activities surrounding the worm bin, including
          the date the bin was set up, the number of
          worms (or pounds of worms) added to the bin,
          and the number of people contributing food
          scraps  (number of people in the class). For the
          remainder of steps for this activity, have students
          record the date and day food is added, includ-
                                              ing the type of food and its weight, as well as
                                              the amount of water added. The compost bin
                                              should always remain moist.

                                              Step 8: Use food scraps that you brought
                                              from home or that you asked students to bring
                                              from home or save from school lunch, and have
                                              students add them to the bin. Food can be
                                              added daily, weekly, or monthly. Do not over-
                                              load the system; bury food relatively evenly
                                              amongst the different "plots." On the data
                                              sheet, instruct students to keep track of how
                                              much food they are providing the worms and
                                              where it is placed (see diagram on data sheet).

                                              Step 9: Place a sheet of newspaper over the
                                              top  of the bin to prevent flies from circulating
                                              near the area. Store the bin in  a cool  place out
                                              of direct sunlight, and keep the lid tightly shut.

                                              Step 1 0: Have students check the bin fre-
                                              quently as they add food scraps to see the
                                              changes that occur. After a period of 3 to 6
                                              months, depending on the size of the container,
                                              most of the food and bedding  will be trans-
                                              formed into worm  castings, the nutrient-rich
                                              waste materials that worms excrete.

                                              Step 11: In order to harvest the compost, or
                                              humus, for use (if you choose to), you  must
                                              change the bedding and temporarily remove the
                                              worms. Spread out a tarp or drop cloth in an
                                              open  area and dump out the entire contents of
              Step  11:  How To Harvest Compost
                  Divide compost
                materials into several
                 cone-shaped piles
               (larger on the bottom).
                                    Scoop off the
                                  material from the
                                   top of the piles.
 Put the castings into a
container to carry out to
     the garden.

Unit 2. Chapter 2, Composting
             The Quest for Less

the bin. Have students help you divide the
materials into several cone-shaped piles (larger
on the bottom, so the worms will burrow into it
and avoid the light). Direct students to scoop off
the material from the tops of the piles, and put
the castings into a container to carry out to the
garden (see illustration on the previous page for
help). Repeat this procedure until most of the
compost is harvested.

Step 12: Have students put worms back in
the bin, along with  any uncomposted food and
old bedding. Your class can start a new stock of
bedding and add in any additional worms to
begin the  process again.

Step 13: Create a garden in which to use the
compost as a soil amendment, or use the com-
post on the schools' beds or lawn.

NOTE: Other critters may make their way into
the compost bin. Many are beneficial, including
mold, bacteria, sow bugs, beetle mites, white
worms, snails and slugs, flies, round worms,
and millipedes. You do NOT want the following
in your bin, however: flat worms, ground bee-
tles, centipedes, ants, and pseudo scorpions. If
you find any of these organisms, start over.
   ^ Enrichment J
       Assessment  J
1.  Ask students to define and describe
2.  Ask students why it is beneficial to compost
   items instead of throwing them away.
Ask the students to make observations about the
worm bin each week. Do smaller pieces of food
tend to break down faster than larger ones?
What does the compost smell like? What organ-
isms do they notice? Are the worms multiplying?

1.  Have students take the temperature of the
   worm  bin once a week to determine the vari-
   ations that occur while food is composted.
   Use a thermometer that can measure up to
   1 70°F. Have the students create bar graphs
   showing the increase or decrease in temper-
   ature over time.
2.  Let students use a  pH paper to test the acidi-
   ty of the worm  bin once a week. Does the
   pH change based  on the foods  that are
   added? Have the students keep a record of
   the foods that are  added and the pH and
   chart a graph showing the correlation. If the
   soil is  too acidic, the worms may try to leave
   the bin. Try adding a little lime.

3.  Give students gloves to gently examine the
   critters inside the bin once a week. You might
   also examine a sample of the soil under a
   microscope (at the beginning  of composting,
   bacteria are present that help break down
   the food; later larger organisms such as sow-
   bugs and round worms play a larger role.)
   Obtain an identification guide to inverte-
   brates and insects  and see how many you
   can identify. Have  students draw the different
   kinds of critters and discuss the  differences in
   each (number of legs, body parts, function).

The Quest fop Less
                       Unit 2. Chapter 2, Composting

   Student   Handout
Date bi

n was set
of worm:
of peopl<

5 (or pound:
j contributi
of food

3 of worm
ng food 5<
of food

s) added to
^raps on a r
of water

'egular bas
in site *


                     (If you run out of spaces, get an extra copy of this sheet from your teacher.)
          On the back of this paper, draw the worm bin,
          including its dimensions, and assign plots to cer-
          tain sections so you can track decomposition of
          food placed in each numbered  area.

          Harvest date: 	

          Total days:	

          Total weight of food buried:  	
Weight of uneaten food left over:

Average weight buried per day: _


      Landfills and

   Grade  •  Subject  •  Skills  Index
Luscious Layered
                                A Landfill Is No
The Great
Gases Be Gone

           Language Arts
           Social Studies


           Problem Solving
           Motor Skills
            *$ee Glossary of Skills for more details.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion
                                                                  The Qaest for Less

What Is a  Landfill?
A landfill is a large area of land or an excavated
site that is specifically designed and built to
receive wastes. Today, about 54 percent of our
country's trash is disposed of in landfills (EPA,
2009). Items such as appliances, newspapers,
books, magazines, plastic containers, packag-
ing, food scraps, yard trimmings, and other
wastes from residential, commercial, and some
industrial sources can  be disposed of in munici-
pal solid waste landfills. Municipal solid waste
landfills can also accept some types of haz-
ardous waste, such as cleaning  products, paint,
and chemicals, as well as some industrial wastes
from certain businesses. Many states and com-
munities, however,  promote the  safe  collection of
these  hazardous wastes through local programs.
(See "Are There Landfills for Hazardous Waste?"
on page 166 for more information.)

In the past, garbage was collected in open
dumps. These uncovered and unlined sites
allowed leachate, a liquid formed by decompos-
ing waste, to soak into the soil and ground water.
 ^	\
      Cross Section of a Landfill
           lal earth cover plus synthetic
             liner and compacted clay

            Compacted solid waste
                 Daily earth cover

             Compacted solid waste
                Daily earth cover
                 Daily earth cover
                Leachate collection
                and removal system
                    Protective lin«
                Compacted soil (cloy)
  Key Point*
  •   Landfills are the most common form of
     waste disposal and are an important
     component of an integrated waste man-
     agement system.
  •   Federal landfill regulations have eliminat-
     ed the open damps of the past. Today's
     landfills must meet stringent design,
     operation, and closure requirements.
  •   Landfills that handle hazardous wastes
     are specially designed with two sets of
     liners and two leachate detection systems.
  •   After a landfill is capped, the land may
     be used for recreation sites such as
     parks, golf courses, and ski slopes.
  •   Methane gas, a byproduct of decom-
     posing waste, can be collected and used
     as fuel to generate electricity.
Open dumps also attracted rodents and insects,
emitted odors, and created fire hazards. Most of
these small and  unsanitary dumps have been
replaced by large, modern facilities that are
designed, operated, and monitored according to
strict federal and state regulations. Today's land-
fills eliminate the harmful and undesirable
characteristics of dumps to help protect public
health and the environment.

In  addition to being safer for the environment
and neighboring communities, these larger land-
fills hold more trash than the dumps of the  past.
In  2008 about  1,800 municipal solid waste
landfills were operating in the United States (EPA,
2009). While this number is significantly smaller
than the number of landfills 25 years ago,  new
landfills—often  called megafills due  to their
size—can accommodate significantly more
garbage. This greater capacity is  necessary to
keep up with the steady growth of municipal
solid waste.
The Quest for Less
              Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion

Are There Landfills for Hazardous Waste?
In 2001, more than 1 million tons of hazardous waste was dis-
posed of in landfills or surface impoundments. Hazardous waste
is toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive, or generated from cer-
tain industries or manufacturing processes. When  it comes to
disposing of hazardous waste in landfills, EPA takes additional
steps to ensure environmental safety and human health.

While landfills that accept solid waste have a clay and plastic
liner and a leachate system to prevent leakage, landfill owners
that accept hazardous waste must take extra precautions. For
example, a hazardous waste landfill must have two sets of lin-
ers, one consisting of a special plastic, and the other composed
of both plastic and a thick layer of soil material. In addition, a
landfill accepting hazardous waste must have two leachate
detection systems instead of just one.

Before hazardous waste even reaches a landfill, however, it
must be treated differently than solid waste. If hazardous waste
is bound for disposal in  a landfill, it is regulated under EPA's
Land Disposal  Restrictions program. Through this program, haz-
ardous waste  must undergo treatment that will destroy or
immobilize its hazardous components before it is  sent to a land-
fill. For example, when a business generates hazardous waste, it
must either treat that waste itself,  or send it to a special facility
for treatment, before sending the  waste to a landfill.
                                                                        be lined and have a leachate col-
                                                                        lection system.  In addition, landfill
                                                                        owners  must monitor and collect
                                                                        explosive gases; regularly test
                                                                        nearby ground  water; and com-
                                                                        pact and cover waste with a layer
                                                                        of soil on a daily basis.

                                                                        In addition to federal regulations,
                                                                        each  state  has its own landfill
                                                                        requirements, which  are often  more
                                                                        stringent than the federal laws.
                                                                        Many states require landfill opera-
                                                                        tors to obtain a license and present
                                                                        a plan for how  the site will be  safe-
                                                                        ly closed, even  though the closing
                                                                        date might be 50 years in the
                                                                        future. Furthermore,  federal law
                                                                        requires landfill owners to set aside
                                                                        the money to close the landfill
                                                                        properly and support ongoing
                                                                        monitoring activities. Once a land-
                                                                        fill is capped (closed), the operator
                                                                        must  monitor the site for  gas and
                                                                        leachate for a minimum of 30
                                                                        years after the closing date.

           How Does a Landfill Work?
           A typical modern landfill is lined with a layer of
           clay and protective plastic to prevent the waste
           and leachate from leaking into the ground or
           ground water. The lined unit is then divided into
           disposal cells. Only one cell is open at a time to
           receive waste. After a day's activity, the garbage is
           compacted and covered with a layer of soil to
           minimize odor, pests, and wind disturbances. A
           network of drains at  the bottom of the landfill
           collects the leachate that flows through the
           decomposing waste. The leachate is sent to a
           leachate recovery facility to be treated. Methane
           gas, carbon dioxide, and other gases produced
           by the decomposing waste are monitored and
           collected to reduce their effects on air quality.

           Landfills are regulated by federal and state laws.
           The federal laws dictate where landfills can  be
           located, such as away from unstable land prone
           to earthquakes or flooding, and  require them to
                                                 What Are the Benefits  of
                                                 In addition to providing a cost-effective, safe
                                                 method to dispose of ever-increasing amounts
                                                 of trash, landfills often provide other services to
                                                 the community. For example, some landfills col-
                                                 lect methane, a gas created by decomposing

Unit 2, Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion
The Qaest for Less

               Landfill Facts
               •  The first garbage dump was created in 500 BC by the ancient Greeks in Athens. Residents were
                  required to take their trash at least 1  mile away from the city walls to dump.
               •  Paper takes up as much as 50 percent of all landfill space. Recycling 1 ton of newspapers would
                  save 3  cubic feet of that space.
               •  In a study of waste buried for more than 1 5 years, Professor William Rathje of the University of
                  Arizona found legible newspapers and chicken bones with meat still on them, proving that waste
                  does not decompose completely in a landfill.
               (Sources: The League of Women Voters' Gc
               Rathje, 1 990; Anchorage Recycling Center,
           garbage that can contribute to global climate
           change, and  convert it into an energy source. In
           addition, after a landfill is capped and a certain
           amount of time has passed, the land might be
           reused for parks, ski slopes, golf courses, and
           other recreation areas.
           What Are the Challenges of
           Though regulations have made landfills safer to
           the public and the environment, public opposi-
           tion, high land prices, and environmental
           concerns can make it difficult to find suitable
           places for new landfills.

           Landfills can pose other problems if not properly
           designed or managed. If a liner leaks, for exam-
           ple, the underlying soil and ground water can
           become contaminated. Additionally, since land-
           fills are often located in  remote areas, waste
           must be hauled long  distances, which might
           result in environmental impacts from increased
           truck traffic (e.g., air  pollution) and noise from
               Putting Landfill Gas to Use
               1 million tons of waste within a landfill ere-
gas, or one megawatt of electricity. That is
enough to  power 700 homes for a year.
Removing that much methane gas from the
atmosphere is equal to taking 8,800 cars off
the road for a year.

(Source: EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach
Program, www.epa.gov/lmop/publications-tools/)
                                             truck traffic and the use of equipment onsite.
                                             Additionally, landfills often compete for local
                                             garbage within a given municipality.
                                             Competition can lead to reduced support for
                                             recycling and other waste reduction programs.

                                             Issues also might arise if a landfill is located
                                             close to a community. Many people do not want
                                             landfills near their homes. The NIMBY (Not in
                                             My Backyard) attitude can make finding a  land-
                                             fill site very challenging.
What Are Some Emerging Trends?
Increased waste generation requires landfill
operators and managers to constantly evaluate
and improve current disposal methods. One
strategy to speed the rate of decomposition of
landfill waste is to recirculate the collected
leachate by  pouring it over the cells and allow-
ing it to filter through the rotting garbage.

Another trend that is becoming common for
landfill operators is collecting methane gas from
the landfill and using it as the energy source to
power the landfill or selling it to a local utility
provider, company, or even greenhouses. This
process allows landfills to reduce their depend-
ence on precious fossil fuels and save money.

A new trend that is gaining attention is landfill
reclamation, in which old cells are excavated to
recover recyclable items. This process, in which
recovered recyclables, soil, and waste can be
sold, reused, or burned  as fuel, is a new
approach used to expand  landfill capacity and
avoid the  cost of acquiring additional land.
           The Quest for Less
                                                          Unit 2. Chapter 2,f. Landfills and Combustion

           Additional Information Resources:
           Visit the following Web sites for more information on municipal solid waste landfills:

           •   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
           •   U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site  on disposal:
           •   U.S. EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program:  
           •   National Solid Waste Management Association: 
           •   Solid Waste Association of North America: 

           For more information on the disposal of hazardous waste in landfills, visit:

           •   U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site  on Land Disposal:
           •   U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site  on RCRA Hotline Training Modules
               (hazardous waste  land disposal units):  
           To order the following additional documents on municipal solid waste, call EPA toll-free at (800)
           490-3198 (TDD 800 553-7672) or look on the EPA Web site .

           •  Sites for Our Solid Waste: A Guidebook for Public Involvement (EPA530-SW-90-019).
           •  Safer Disposal of Solid Waste: The Federal Regulations for Landfills (EPA530-SW-91 -092)
           •  Decision-Makers' Guide to Solid Wasfe A/lanagemenf, Volume II (EPA530-R-95-023)
           •  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM

Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Less

                                                        Teacher fact  Sheet
What  Is Combustion?
Recycling, composting, and source reduction are
vital activities for effective solid waste manage-
ment, but 100 percent of people's trash cannot
be handled by these methods. The remaining
waste must be deposited in landfills or combust-
ed (burned). Because of  limited space, landfills
are not always a viable option in many cities,
making combustors (commonly referred to as
incinerators) an important part of a community's
integrated waste management system. Burning
garbage can decrease the volume of waste
requiring disposal by 70  to 90 percent.

Before the late  1 970s, many people  burned
garbage in their backyards and in simple private
and municipal combustors. These methods did
not burn garbage completely, however, and
                         allowed  pollutants
                         to escape into the
                         atmosphere. With
                         the passing of the
                         Clean Air Act, com-
                         bustor owners had
                         to develop more
                         effective  methods of
                         pollution control.
                         Today's municipal
                         waste combustors
  Key Point*
  •  Municipal waste combustors burn waste
     at high temperatures to reduce its volume.
  •  Municipal waste cornbustons reduce the
     volume of garbage by 70 to 90 percent
  •  Ash is a byproduct of combustion that
     must be disposed of in landfills or
  •  Air pollution control equipment helps
     reduce air emissions.
  •  The heat produced by burning waste in
     municipal waste combustors can be
     recovered as useful energy.
  •  Specially designed incinerators can be
     used as a means of handling hazardous
     waste. The burning process reduces
     the toxicity of organic compounds in
     the waste.

release significantly less pollutants into the air
than the "backyard burners" and simple com-
bustors. More than 100 municipal waste
combustor plants currently exist nationwide, and
nearly 20 percent of the municipal solid waste
generated  in  the United States is combusted.
Facts about Municipal Waste
•  Fire in the boiler of a combustor is often as hot as flow-
   ing lava (between  1,800 and 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit)
•  In 1874, a new technology called "the destructor"
   provided the first combustor of municipal garbage in
•  The first garbage incinerator in the United States was
   built on Governor's Island, New York, in  1 885.
(Sources: Integrated Waste Services Association, 2000; Rubbish! The
Archaeology of Garbage by William Rathje, 1 990)
          How Do Municipal Waste
          Combustors Work?
          Municipal waste combustors dispose
          of trash by burning it at high temper-
          atures. Not all municipal waste
          combustors are designed alike, but
          they function in a similar manner.
          Typically, a facility collects waste in a
          garbage receiving area or pit, where
          the garbage is mixed by a crane. The
          crane operator looks for large items
          that are not suitable for combustion
The Quest for Less
             Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion

                  How Typical Combustion  Facilities Work
             1. Tipping area for trucks
             2. Refuse pit               5.
             3. Refuse crane             6.
             4. Hopper, which sends waste to   7.
                             combustion zone
                             Primary combustion zone
                             Underfire air
 8. Heat exchanger
 9. Turbine
10. Scrubber, to remove acid
11. Fly ash and dust collector
12. Stack
13. Bottom ash and fly ash
   collection and transport
           Hazardous Waste Combustion
           In addition to combustion facilities that accept
           municipal (nonhazardous) waste, specially
           designed incinerators, boilers, and industrial
           furnaces, can burn hazardous waste.
           Hazardous waste, which is toxic, ignitable,
           corrosive, or reactive, can be produced by
           Combustion has some key advantages as a
           means of managing hazardous waste.  First,
           burning hazardous waste reduces the volume
           of waste by converting solids and liquids to
           ash. Second, the burning process destroys
           toxic organic compounds in waste. Third, dis-
           posal of the ash in a landfill is safer and more
           efficient than disposal of untreated hazardous
           waste. The ash generated from hazardous
           waste combustion must be tested and,  if found
           to be hazardous, must be treated for remain-
           ing toxicity before it is disposed of in a landfill.
                                                  (e.g., batteries and refrigerators) and removes
                                                  them from the pit. The crane operator also uses
                                                  the crane to lift piles of garbage into a large
                                                  chute. From the chute, garbage falls into a com-
                                                  bustion chamber or furnace and then moves
                                                  along a series of sloping grates that work like
                                                  conveyer belts. The ciarbage is burned as it
                                                  moves forward.

                                                  After garbage is burned, some matter remains in
                                                  the form of ash. There are two types of ash: bot-
                                                  tom ash and fly ash. Bottom ash is the heavier,
                                                  nonburnable materiel, such as glass and metal,
                                                  that falls through the grate after burning. Large
                                                  pieces of metal accumulate in this ash and are
                                                  extracted from the ash with magnets. Bottom ash
                                                  accounts for about 75 to 90 percent of ash pro-
                                                  duced by incinerators. Fly ash includes lighter
                                                  particles that rise with hot gases as the garbage
                                                  is burned and  are captured by air pollution con-
                                                  trol equipment in the stacks. All ash generated
                                                  by combustion facilities must be tested to deter-
                                                  mine if it is hazardous.  If it is hazardous, the ash
                                                  is subject to special hazardous waste disposal
                                                  regulations. If the ash is nonhazardous, it may

Unit 2, Chapter 2.t, Landfills and Combustion
                                The Quest for Less

be deposited in landfills specially designed to
store it. Currently, studies are under way to inves-
tigate ways to reuse ash; for example, to replace
soil as a landfill cover (generally applied at the
end of each day to minimize odor, pests, and
wind disturbances). Ash might also be used in
road and building construction and as part of
artificial offshore reefs. Whether the leftover ash
is recycled or landfilled, it takes up much less
space than the same  materials in their original
What Are the Benefits of
Municipal Waste Combustors?
Most municipal  waste incinerators  in the United
States generate  energy in the form of electricity
because certain materials, such as paper, plas-
tics, wood, and  packaging, make excellent
fuels. Producing this energy has about the same
environmental impact as energy produced from
natural gas and less of an environmental impact
than energy produced from oil or coal. In other
words,  generating energy from municipal waste
combustors contributes no more pollution—and
sometimes less—than processes generating
electricity using  natural gas, oil, or coal. Waste-
                         to-energy plants
                         also reduce the
                         need to generate
                         electricity from non-
                         renewable  natural
                         resources such as
                         oil and coal.
What Are the Challenges of
Municipal Waste Combustors?
Although technologies to control pollution have
improved significantly, burning certain materials
still produces chemicals that contribute to air
pollution. To minimize emissions of air pollutants
into the atmosphere,  municipal waste incinera-
tors use special  equipment (e.g., scrubbers and
dust collectors) to remove pollutants. To protect
air quality and monitor the hazardous con-
stituents in ash,  EPA established regulations that
apply to all large municipal solid waste units
(those with the capacity to burn more than 250
tons of garbage per day). The regulations signif-
icantly reduce toxic air emissions such as dioxin,
acid gas, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

Many people do not want incineration  sites near
their homes. The "NIMBY (Not In My Back
Yard)" attitude makes finding appropriate sites
for municipal waste combustors a challenge for
many municipalities. There are, however, oppor-
tunities for the public  to participate in deciding
where a combustor will be located. Officials
must hold a  public meeting to inform the com-
munity about the size of the proposed
combustor, as well as the amount of waste gen-
eration and ash to be discarded.

The Quest for Less
             Unit 2. Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion

           Additional Information Resources:
           Visit the following Web sites for more information on municipal and hazardous waste combustion and
           solid waste:

           •  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 
           •  U.S. EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery site  on combustion
           «  Integrated Waste Services Association: 
           •  Solid Waste Association of North America: 

           To order the following additional documents on combustion and  solid waste, ca I EPA toll-free at
           (800) 490-9198 or look on the EPA Web site  .

           •  Decision-Makers' Guide to Solid Waste Management, Volume II (EPA530-R-95-023).
           •  Sites for our Solid Waste: A Guidebook for Public Involvement (EPA530-SW-90-019)
           •  A Collection of Solid Waste Resources on CD-ROM (EPA530-C-98-001)
Unit 2. Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion
The Qciest for Le

                                                                              Grades 1-4
                         Layered  Landfill
       Objective  J
To teach students how a modern landfill functions (that
is, how its many layers contain garbage and prevent
leakage into soil or ground water).
       Activity Description J
Students will construct edible models of a landfill to
learn about its different layers and their functions.
               Key Vocabulary Words J

               Clay liner
               Plastic liner
               Leachate collection pipes
       Materials Needed  J
               Duration  J
   One 8-ounce pliable clear plastic cup per student
   Five chocolate sandwich cookies per student
   One 8-ounce box of raisins
   One fruit rollup per student
   Two graham crackers per student
   Two red licorice sticks per student
   One package of birthday candles
   One set of matches
   One scoop of chocolate ice cream (or pudding)
   per student
   Two tablespoons of whipped cream per student
   One plastic knife per student
   One plastic fork per student
   One handful (per student) of a variety of small chewable
   candies (e.g, chocolate, peanut butter, fruit)
   One copy of Anatomy of a Landfill handout per student
                                                          1 hour
Skills Used
               Motor skills
       Activity J
Step 1: Refer to the Teacher Fact Sheet
titled Landfills on page 1 65 for background
information. Explain the purpose of a landfill
to students and explain that they will construct
their own model landfills in class. Copy and
distribute the Anatomy of a Landfill handout.
Using the handout, go over each layer's
name and function with students.
Step 2: Distribute a cup and five chocolate
sandwich cookies to each student. Explain that
the cup represents an excavated hole in the

Step 3: Have students carefully "unscrew"
two of their cookies so that one half has white
cream and the other is bare. Students should
have two cookie halves with white cream and
two cookie halves without cream. Crush the
bare  cookie  halves  into small pieces and put
The Quest for Less
              Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to list some common
          items that they throw away. What
          do they think people threw away
          100 years ago? Ask them to predict
          what we will throw away in the
          future. What would they expect to
          find in a landfill in another country
          (pick a country)? Ask students to
          compare these answers with the
          United States.
          them into the cup.  Explain that the crushed
          cookies represent a layer of soil that is placed in
          the bottom of real  landfills.

          Step  4: Next, have the students take the
          cookie halves with  white cream and break them
          up into two or three pieces. Direct students to
          place the pieces in the cup with the white cream
          face up.  These pieces represent a layer of clay
          that is  put on top of the soil in real landfills.

          Step  5: Have students use the plastic knife to
          cut their fruit rollups to roughly fit the size of the
          top of cup and slide them  into  place (will push  up
          on sides) on top of  the cookies to represent a
          plastic  liner. Plastic liners prevent leachate from
          escaping from a landfill into the ground. Leachate
          is liquid created when trash decomposes.

          Step  6: Have students  crush and add their
          graham crackers to represent a sand  layer. This
          layer is used to prevent liquids in landfills from
          seeping out.

          Step  7: Have students  place raisins on top to
          represent a layer of pebbles. Like the  sand  layer,
          pebbles provide further protection against
          leachate leaks.

          Step  8: Have students rip the licorice  sticks in
          half and bite off both ends to represent leachate
          pipes. Stick pipes into pebble layer. These pipes col-
          lect any leachate that collects on top of the liners.
                                                Step 9: Ask studerts to sprinkle the candies on
                                                top of the raisins. The candies represent pieces of
                                                garbage. Ask students to think about what hap-
                                                pens when a landfill or "cup" is filled up with
                                                trash or "candies"? How can they reduce the
                                                amount of trash that they send to the landfill?
                                                (Refer to the Teacher  Fact Sheet titled Recycling
                                                on page 101 for background information.)

                                                Step 10: Give each student a scoop of ice
                                                cream on top  of the candies. Then, have the stu-
                                                dents add one more  layer of candies on top of
                                                the ice cream. The ice cream layer represents the
                                                seepage created fron rain seeping through the
                                                garbage.  Explain that in  a real landfill, more lay-
                                                ers of garbage or "candies" are placed on the
                                                landfill each day, so that  liquid from  the decom-
                                                position of the trash is continually created.

                                                Step 11: Direct students to "unscrew"  their
                                                two remaining cookies and crush another layer
                                                of the bare cookie halves, without the cream,
                                                on top of  the candies and ice cream to repre-
                                                sent soil again. (Stucents can eat the other
                                                cream-covered cookie halves.) This  layer
                                                reduces the amount of rain water that reaches
                                                the garbage.

                                                Step 12: Each student should use a layer of
                                                whipped cream to  "cap"  the landfill  or cover it
                                                (as would a plastic cap)  in order to prevent
                                                odor, insect, and rocent problems.

                                                Step 1 3: In front of the class, stick a candle
                                                deep into your own edible "landfill"  and light  it.
                                                Explain that the candle represents  the  methane
                                                gas recovery system, which draws  methane gas
                                                from the decomposing garbage. The flame rep-
                                                resents energy that can be generated by burning
                                                the captured methane gas.

                                                Step 14: Have students eat their  landfills as a
                                                snack. When they get to the  bottom  of their cup,
                                                ask students to notice whether their cookie or
                                                "soil" layer is  dry, or whether the ice cream or
                                                "leachate" leaked  past the many layers and the
                                                fruit roll-up liner to soak  the  cookies. Remind
                                                students that if they built their landfill correctly,
                                                their cookies will be dry, just as in  a  real landfill
                                                the soil remains protected from leachate.

Unit 2, Chapter 2.1, Landfills and Combustion
                                                                                         The Quest for Less

       Assessment  J
   After enjoying the luscious layered landfill as
   a snack, ask the students if they remember
   the purpose of all the different parts, such as
   the fruit roll-up, the licorice, the cookies, and
   your candle.
        Enrichment  J
   Contact a landfill in your community and
   take a tour. Ask to hear about all the differ-
   ent parts of the landfill. If your landfill
   recovers methane for energy, ask for a tour
   of the plant.
   Have students conduct a survey of friends
   and family asking them where their garbage
   goes. Have them  record peoples' responses
   and determine whether they are well
   informed. In class, discuss the survey results.
The Quest for Less
Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion

   Student   ffcandout
Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Less

                                                                              Grades 3-6
       Landfill  I* Ho
       Objective J
            Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students where garbage goes and explain the
difference between unlined trash "dumps" of the past
and today's specially designed landfills.
       Activity Description J
Students will construct models of an old-fashioned
"dump" and a modern landfill in class and observe their
       Materials Needed
   Two plastic colanders (9 inches wide by 4 inches deep)
   Two cake pans (9 inches)
   One 10-pound bag of garden soil
   One 32-ounce bottle of distilled water
   Small pieces of typical home-generated garbage
   (see below)
   One package of modeling clay
   One roll of colored (red) crepe paper
   Clear tape
   One measuring cup
   One pair of scissors
   One package or roll of litmus (pH) paper
   One copy of the Landfill Log worksheet for each student
            Municipal solid waste
            Duration J
             Landfill creation: 1 hour
             Observation over 4
             weeks: 15 to 20 minutes
             each week
Skills Used }
            Problem solving
Step 1: Photocopy and distribute Landfill
Log worksheets to each student. Bring in some
small pieces of garbage from your home,
such as potato peels, apple cores, newspaper,
and plastic yogurt containers. Introduce the
following topics or concepts (refer to the
Teacher Fact Sheets titled Solid  Waste on page
47 and Landfills on page 165 for background
Trash generation and disposal.

How trash has been disposed of in the past
and how it is disposed of now.

Explain, in general terms, how a landfill

Define each of the key vocabulary words
used in the lesson.
The Quest for Less
           Unit 2. Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion

                  Journal Activity J
           Ask students to write a haiku
           or sonnet about where their
           garbage goes.
          Step 2:  Begin the exercise by asking a
          student volunteer to line one colander with flat-
          tened modeling clay, patting it out flat like a  pie
          crust. Explain that this represents the liner of  a
          sanitary, modern landfill. Do not line the second
          colander. Note that it represents an old-fash-
          ioned, unsanitary dump.
                                                Step  7: After every "rain" session, have the
                                                students use a measuring cup to measure the
                                                water that leaked out of the unlined colander.
                                                Have students observe and record the water's
                                                color and turbidity. Ask for volunteers to test the
                                                pH of the collected water with litmus paper. Ask
                                                students to  record results and observations in
                                                their Landfill Logs. For comparison purposes,
                                                have students test and record the pH of the
                                                distilled water.
                                                Step 8: Next, have student volunteers put the
                                                "dirty" water from the unlined colander in a
                                                plastic cup. Fill another plastic cup with distilled
          Step 3:  Have several students cut the differ-
          ent garbage items you brought in from home
          into small pieces, about 2 inches square.

          Step 4:  Have a few student volunteers place
          this trash and the garden soil in the colanders in
          alternate layers until the colanders are full. For
          each layer, add  1 inch of garbage covered by
          1/4 inch of dirt. Add several strips of red crepe
          paper as one layer toward the bottom of the
          colanders and cover them with more  dirt. (The
          red crepe paper will emphasize the seepage  of
          water through the unlined dump.)
          Step 5:  Place cake pans under the colanders
          to collect the seepage.
                                                Step 9: Ask students to pretend that the dirty
                                                water or "leachate"  nad escaped an unlined
                                                landfill and reached surrounding plants and ani-
                                                mals. Ask them whal effect they think the liquid
                                                would have on animal or plant life. Ask students
                                                to predict how a  piece of celery (representing a
                                                plant) would react tc the leachate or "dirty"
                                                Step  10: Insert two pieces of celery—one
                                                into the leachate cup and one into the distilled
                                                water cup. Point out to students  how the celery
                                                stalk absorbs all of the color from the crepe
                                                paper,  or dirt and toxins, of the leachate. Have
                                                students record observations about the process
                                                and the differences between the two  pieces of
          Step 6:  Have students simulate "rain" on the
          "landfills" by pouring 1 cup of water onto each
          colander twice a week for 4 weeks. Ask students
          to observe the changes that take place. Pay par-
          ticular attention to any water that collects in the
          cake pans. The unlined colander's seepage
          should be observable and colored by the crepe
          paper. The lined colander should not leak.
Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Less

     n Assessment J
1. Ask students fo explain the differences
   between the mini-landfills.

2. Ask students to refer to their Landfill Logs.
   How did the color, turbidity, and pH of the
   leachate and the distilled water differ? Why?

3. Have students describe how an unlined land-
   fill or "dump" can pollute ground water and
   surrounding soil.

4. Ask students to decide which landfill is better
   for the environment and why. Which kind of
   disposal facility would they rather have in
   their neighborhood?

5. Ask students to define the key vocabulary
   words of this lesson. Conduct a spelling  bee
   using these words.
^jy Enrichment  J
Take a field trip to a local landfill. Have kids
tour the facility and learn firsthand how it
operates. When you return, have students
write a paragraph about their visit, including
five new facts about landfills that they

Contact your state solid waste or environ-
mental agency to find out how many landfills
are in your state.  If one is located near you,
ask how many tons of trash it accepts per
day or per year and its lifetime maximum
capacity. Have students use data obtained
from the agency to calculate how quickly the
landfill is filling up. Have students make
graphs to show how much longer it can
accept garbage at its current rate.
The Quest for Less
           Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion

  Student  Handout
          Landfill Log
Week 1
Rain 1
Rain 2
Week 2
Rain 1
Rain 2
Rain 2
1 Week 4
Rain 1
Rain 2

Amount of
'/2 cup

pH of Leachate

Distilled Water

Color of Leachate
brown and red

Turbidity of
murky and fillei
with particles

Celery in Leachate

Celery in
Distilled Water

^~ 1


Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Less

                                                                                          Grades 4-6
                  Objective J
                                                       Key Vocabulary Words J
           To introduce students to the concept of energy and
           teach them about its connection to trash.
                  Activity Description  J
           Students will complete the Energy Expedition worksheet
           individually or in pairs.
                  Materials Needed J
One photocopy of the Energy Expedition worksheet
per student
One pencil or pen per student
Skills Used ]

Problem solving
                  Activity J
           Step 1: Distribute one copy of the Energy
           Expedition worksheet to each student.
           Introduce the concept of energy—what it is,
           what it's used for, and where it comes from.
           Next, discuss the link between energy and
           trash; explain how we can capture methane
           gas from landfills to burn as energy for the
           community or local businesses. In addition,
           discuss how we can capture energy by burn-
           ing our trash in combustion facilities. Refer to
                                        the Teacher Fact Sheets titled Landfills on
                                        page 165 and Combustion on page 169 for
                                        background information.

                                        Step 2: Depending on student ability levels,
                                        use the Teacher Answer Key to go over the key
                                        vocabulary of this activity in advance, dis-
                                        cussing each word and  its meaning with the
                                        class. This will help them correctly complete
                                        the written activity later.

                                        Step 3: Direct students to complete the
                                        Energy Expedition worksheet, working either
                                        individually or in pairs.

           The Quest for Less
                                                      Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion

                   Journal Activity  J
           Have students keep an energy diary
           for one week. Ask them to record
           every time they use energy in a day
           (for example, taming on lights, using
           a car or has). Where could they
           have saved energy (for example, rid-
           ing a bike  instead of using a car)?
                •^Assessment J
            1. Collect the Energy Expedition worksheets
              and assess students' work.
                                                               2. Ask students to list at least four different
                                                                  sources of energy.
                                                       ^ Enrichment  J
                                                    1. Visit a waste-to-energy facility as a field trip.
                                                      Have students write summaries that explain
                                                      how the facility works.

                                                    2. Divide the class into groups and assign them
                                                      each an energy concept (such as those intro-
                                                      duced in the Energy Expedition worksheet.)
                                                      Ask each group to conduct research on their
                                                      topic and prepare a presentation to teach the
                                                      class about their Bindings.

                                                    3. Conduct a spelling bee using the energy
                                                      words featured on the Energy Expedition












. S



                                                       1. A type of energy. The word describes something that's "possible,
                                                         but not certain."  potential

                                                       4. The process of burning a material or substance. It's another word
                                                         for "incineration," and its letters might "bust!"     COmbllStion

                                                       6. A liquid that we can control and direct to generate energy. You might
                                                         drink it or swim in it. WdteP

                                                       7. A substance that is neither liquid, nor solid, but can be removed
                                                         from the Earth and used to gererate power..
                                                       8. A hard, black substance that we burn for fuel.
                                                       10. A word describing energy frorr the sun. It rhymes with
                                                          "polar."  solar

                                                       2. It's another word for unwanted material that you throw out into a
                                                         container every day. You might set it out on the curb or throw it in a
                                                         dumpster.  trq.5P
                                                       3. The hard rock-like remains of prehistoric animal and plant life, such as
                                                         dinosaurs, which we sometimes discover in the Earth's crust.
                                                       5. A natural gas that is generated by garbage decomposing in a landfill.
                                                         Live animals can produce this gas as well...such as Q.COW burpingl
                                                         The word ends in "one," but it's not "propone." P^vl I Ml 'v—

                                                       9. The liquid that we pump from the Earth's surface to burn for fuel.
                                                         This work also applies to a procuct we often use in cooking. .Oil—

Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Le

Directions: Your first task is to complete the Energy
Crossword Puzzle below using the clues provided.
Once you have filled in the crossword puzzle, you'll
have a list of ten important energy vocabulary words.


                                                               You're about to set out on a mission
                                                                 to investigate ENERGY, including its
                                                                 uses, sources, and connection to
                                                                 our trash. If you accomplish your
                                                               mission, you'll be promoted to an
                                                           Energy Expert-and you'll be able to help
                                                            your family and friends understand how
                                                             important energy is to them and their
                                                               way of life. This mission is not easy,
                                                               however, and it will take all of your
                                                                  concentration and effort to crack
                                                               the energy mystery. Good luck/
  1. A type of energy. The word describes something that's
    "possible, but not certain."  	
                                                           4. The process of burning a material or substance. It's another
                                                             word for "incineration," and its letters might "bust!"
 6. A liquid that we can control and direct to generate
    energy. You might drink it or swim in it.   	
                                                           7.  A substance that is neither liquid, nor solid, but can be
                                                              removed from the Earth and used to generate power.
                                                           8. A hard, black substance that we bum for fuel.
                                                           10. A word describing energy from the sun. It rhymes with
                                                              "polar." _ , _
                                                           2.  It's another word for unwanted material that you throw
                                                              out into a container every day. You might set it out on
                                                              the curb or throw it in a dumpster. -

                                                           3.  The hard rock-like  remains of prehistoric animal and
                                                              plant life, such as dinosaurs, which we sometimes dis-
                                                              cover in the Earth's crust. -

                                                           5.  A natural gas that is generated by garbage decomposing
                                                              in a landfill. Live animals can produce this gas as
                                                              well... such as a cow burping! The word ends in "one," but
                                                              it's not "propane." -

                                                           9.  The liquid that we pump from the Earth's surface to
                                                              burn for fuel.  This word also applies to a product we
                                                              often use in cooking. -
       The Quest for Less
              Unit 2, Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion

          Directions: Great job! You've now learned ten
          important energy vocabulary words! Read the story
          below to learn more about energy and become an
          Energy Expert. You must determine which of your ten
          vocabulary words goes in each blank. Remember,
          some words will be  used more than once. After you
          have filled in all of the blanks, you'll have success-
          fully completed your energy mission!
          What i*
          Energy is one of the most important parts of our world—it
          makes things happen. Energy means the "ability to do
          work." Did you know that you use energy every day?
          Every time  you flip a light switch on; use hot water; or ride in a
          car, bus, train, or plane,  you are using energy. Each time you
          watch TV or use a computer, you are using energy. All of the clothes that you wear, toys you play with,
          and food you eat are products made from processes that require energy.
          There are two different types of energy:

              •   Energy that is stored is called	energy.
              •   Energy that is moving is called kinetic energy.
          Let your pencil rest on your desk. Right now, if it's not moving, your pencil has	(same as pre-
          vious blank) energy. Now, tap it lightly so that it rolls across your desk. Since it's moving, the pencil
          now has kinetic energy.
"Where doe*
          There are many different sources of energy on Earth and there are many different ways that we can
          tap into those sources and make the energy work for us — creating power, electricity, and heat.
          One source of energy upon which we rely heavily are_
                                                          fuels. How were these fuels
          formed? Millions of years ago, ancient plants absorbed the energy from the sun and converted it
          into more plants. Ancient animals, like dinosaurs, ate the plants and converted the plant's energy
          into body mass. When the animals and dinosaurs died, their remains col ected in the ground, and,
          over millions of years, decomposed into a source of fuel.
          What are some
                        (same as previous Wank) fuels? Coal, oil, and natural gas are three
          important fuels that are derived from the Earth and the stored energy of organic remains.

          	started out as a spongy, brown material called "peat," which consists of the decomposed
          organic matter of ancient animals and plants. Geologic forces buried the  peat deep under the Earth's
          surface, where it was further packed down by heat and pressure. The compressed  peat was eventually
          converted to	(same as previous blank).
          We burn	 (same as previous blank) to heat our homes and run  electrical machinery. About 20
          percent of the energy we  use comes from	(same as previous blank).

          __j	is formed deep within the Earth's surface in rocks that are fine-grained and rich in the
          organic remains of once-living animals. The oldest	(same as previous blank) -bearing
          rocks date back more than 600 million years.
                                                     (same as previous blank) is burned to
          fuel vehicles and heat homes. About 45 percent of the energy we use comes from
          	(same as previous blank).

Unit 2, Chapter 2M, Landfills and Combustion
                                                                            The Quest for Less

 Natural	is a colorless, odorless fuel produced by drilling into the Earth's crust where it was
 trapped hundreds of thousands of years ago. Once it is brought to the surface, it is refined and
 purified to remove water, other gases, and sand. Next, it's transported through large metal
 pipelines that span the continent. Natural	(same as previous Wank) is used for heating,
 cooling, and the production of electricity.

 How i* IftflffRdfY  connected to tra*h,?
 While these sources of energy  continue to serve us well, they are known as nonrenewable resources
 that will eventually be used up. Once we use  all of our supplies, we will have to depend on new
 sources of energy. We're already looking for new energy sources so that we can conserve those that
 come from within the Earth. That's where	comes in. Did you know that you can get energy
 from	(same as previous Wank)?  There are two ways that we can use our        (same as
 previous Wank) to make energy.
 In one method,	(same as previous Wank) is taken to a  waste-to-energy facility. These facilities
 burn the	(same as previous Wank) during a process called	. This process
 generates heat that can be converted to fuel and electricity. Waste-to-energy facilities take a large
 amount of trash and make it smaller by burning it. This reduces the amount of trash that piles up in
 our landfills, which is better for the environment.
 A second way for us to use trash for energy involves the garbage that we dispose  of in landfills. As
 this trash decomposes, it produces	gas.  Too often, this valuable source of energy is
 not used. Now, however, over  1 50 landfills in the United States are  using the gas, captured by a
 special pipe system set up in the landfill, to generate electricity; provide fuel for factories, schools,
 and other facilities; and to produce natural gas for general distribution.
jire there any other *ource* of
In addition to using the energy we generate from our garbage, there are other ways we can harness
the renewable energy sources that surround us. Here are two other important energy sources that we
are just beginning to use in place of fossil fuels.

The light that comes to the Earth from the sun is pure energy. Nearly all other sources of energy origi-
nally got their energy from the sun. Organic matter, like plants, convert	energy into
leaves, flowers, and fruits. We can also use energy from the sun to heat our homes and buildings with
special	(same as previous Wank) panels that capture and convert the light into energy.

Hydroelectric power is generated by harnessing	. When	(same as previous
Wank) falls or runs downhill,  it can be used to run turbines or large water wheels at mills and facto-
ries, which generate electricity.
                                  You've bec»toe an      ^
                               Energy Expert.'
 Now you understand how our trash can help us generate power and electricity.
In addition, you've learned all about our use of energy on this planet and the many
           different sources we can turn to for energy use in the future.
The Quest for Less
Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion        185



                                                                              Grades 5-
•five   for more infor-
The Quest for Less
Step 2: Once the students understand the
above concepts, divide the class into two
groups: Pros and Cons.

Step 3: As a homework assignment or an
in-class teacher-led group activity, have  stu-
dents conduct research and come up with  at
least three points or arguments defending their
side of the debate (i.e., pros or cons associat-
ed with landfills). Encourage students to use
the school library,  Internet, or other resources,
such as contacting the regional solid waste
agency or local recycling coordinator. Teachers
may also choose to provide students with
Enviroscapes' Landfill Model, which compares
old garbage dumps to modern sanitary  land-
fills. For more information, email
 or visit

              Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion

                 Journal Activity J
          Ask students to think about the
          advantages and disadvantages
          associated with landfills. Which
          one issue is most important to
          them? Why?
           Day 2
          Step  1: On day two, have the two sides
          regroup to discuss what they discovered through
          their research.  Give each group 1 5 to 20 min-
          utes to work together and prepare their side of
          the debate on either the pros or cons'of land-
          fills.  During that time, ask the students to
          combine their note cards and assemble them in
          order of importance for easy reference during
          the debate. Instruct students to pick four class-
          mates to represent the group as the debaters.

          Step  2: Explain that each team will get 5
          minutes to present their side of the  debate.
          During that time, any of the four designated
          debaters for that team can speak, but they must
          take turns.  After one side presents, the other
          team has 5 minutes to present their points.

          Step  3: After the formal debate is over, allow
          each team to respond to one or more of the
          issues raised by the other  group. The teacher
          may choose to serve as a moderator during this
          question and answer session.

          Step  4: At the end of the debate ask the stu-
          dents if they were persuaded by either side and
                                                                Assessment J
                                                 Ask the students to discuss/explain whether
                                                 or not they would want a landfill in their
                                                 community. Why or why not?

                                                 How does the debate change if the landfill is
                                                 used for electricity generation? Does this
                                                 benefit outweigh some  of the negatives?
                                                 Does this change the students' opinions/
                                                 perceptions of landfills?
                                                  ^ Enrichment  J
1.  Have students create a survey and conduct
   interviews with family members or friends to
   determine how other people feel about land-
   fills. Compile, analyze, and discuss the
   results of the surveys in class. Make graphs
   or charts based on these results.
2.  Have each student group research how
   garbage was disposed of in  Medieval times,
   the 1 800s, and early  1 900s. How does this
   compare to today's disposal methods? Have
   one group of students research  how garbage
   is disposed of today in countries other than
   the United States. Ask the students how they
   think garbage may be handled in the future.
3.  Take a field trip -o a local landfill to tour the
   facility and learn how it works. When you
   return, have the students write a  paragraph
   on their visit, including five new facts.
4.  Explore the issues of greenhouse gases and
   global climate change in more depth. Use
   the example  of capturing methane from
   landfills for energy as one way to help
   reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ask the
   students to think of other ways we might
   reduce greenhouse gases. Examples include
   using less electricity, creating less garbage
   (see section on Source Reduction), improving
   technologies to cleanup power plants emis-
   sions, and planting trees. (See EPA's Web site
   on methane, , and climate change,
   , for
   reference information.)

Unit 2. Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion
                              The Quest for Less

  A Look at Landfills
      Gives us somewhere to put our solid
      Is more protective than dumps of the
      Waste decomposition at a landfill  gener-
      ates methane—a potent greenhouse gas
      that can be captured and used for
      Converting methane to energy can help
      reduce greenhouse gas emissions—
      directly, by capturing methane from the
      landfill, and indirectly by serving as an
      alternative energy to fossil fuels.
      Can be properly capped and use  for
      park land, playgrounds, or other nonres-
      idential purposes.
      Can provide a source of jobs and
      income for a town or state that is  willing
      to accept solid waste from other cities,
      towns, or states for a fee  ("host fees").
      Using a local or nearby landfill can cut
      down on fuel emissions from trucks and
      boats carrying waste to faraway areas.
   Can cause noise and traffic with trucks
   driving to and from the landfill.
   Must be designed and constructed to
   prevent contamination of ground water,
   surface water, and soil.
   Can lead to  bad smelling (rotten egg) or
   unhealthy air.
   If not properly capped and managed,
   can attract birds and  pests.
   May lower the property values of the sur-
   rounding area.
   Shipping waste to a landfill in another
   state or county may lead to dust prob-
   lems or blowing trash if not covered
   Loose garbage can blow around if land-
   fill is not properly capped and managed.
The Qaest for Less
                Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combastion


                                   dro?e$  Be  drone
       Objective J
Educate students about the differences in greenhouse gas
emissions as they relate to different forms of waste and
waste disposal methods.
       Activity Description J
Students will research various forms of waste disposal
and use EPA's Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to cal-
culate greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste
and waste disposal methods.
       Materials Needed J
•  EPA's Waste Reduction Model (WARM) (available at
   EPA's Climate Change Web site: www.epa.gov/warm
•  Computer (with Internet access or Microsoft Excel)
•  EPA's Web site on Climate Change and Waste:
•  Pencils
•  Weekly Waste Generation Tracking  Sheets
•  Library
               Key Vocabulary Words J

               Carbon dioxide
               Global climate change
               Greenhouse gases
               Solid Waste
               Source reduction
               Duration J

                3 hours (in class)

               Skills Used ]
               Problem Solving
       Activity J
Part 1

Step 1: Review the various methods of han-
dling waste (including source reduction,
recycling, landfilling, composting, and inciner-
ating) using the Teacher Fact Sheets titled
Source Reduction on page 79, Recycling on
page 101, Buying Recycled on page 107,
Composting on page 141, Landfills on page
165, and Combustion on page 169. Define
greenhouse gases and explain how the various
The Quest for Less
factors of waste disposal (type of waste, type of
disposal, transportation) affect greenhouse gas
emissions and thus global climate change. (For
information on the connection between waste
and climate change see EPA's Web site at

Step 2: Hand each student a WeeWy Waste
Generation Tracking Sheet and ask them to fill
it out every day for one week. Have the stu-
dents take the sheet home every evening to
record their waste generation at home. Remind
them to include the materials they use both in
              Unit 2. Chapter 2.1. Landfills and Combustion

          school and home, such as drink cans and car-
          tons, lunch bags, and looseleaf and printer

          Step 3: During this same week, have students
          research how each type of waste  (e.g., alu-
          minum, food scraps, newspaper)  is normally
          disposed of, particularly in their town or county.
          (Tip: You may want to assign one specific waste
          to individual groups of students.)  Teachers will
          use this information to enter data into the base-
          line scenario of EPA's Waste Reduction Model
          Two Methods for Gathering
          Teachers may choose between two methods for
          gathering the necessary information to input
          into WARM (Part 1, Step 2):

          •  Simpler—Students will track the amount
             of each material type they dispose of each
             day. The teacher will use this information
             (as directed Part 2, Step 3) as baseline
             data and then try different combinations of
             alternative waste disposal methods in
             WARM and discuss the results with the
          •  Complex—Students will track both the
             amount of each material type they dispose
             of each day and the method of disposal
             (throw out, recycle, compost). The teacher
             will use this information as directed Part 2,
             Step 3  to complete the WARM spread-
           Part 2

           Step 1: The following week collect the
           Weekly Waste Generation Tracking Sheets from
           the students and tally the results into one com-
           bined tracking sheet. This represents the weekly
           waste generation for the class. In order for the
           WARM tool to give meaningful results, however,
           the class will  need to take the weekly waste
           generation information and project the total
           waste generation (by commodity) for the class
                                                for the year. (Depending on the size of the
                                                class, teachers may need to take this one step
                                                further and project the yearly waste generation
                                                for the school.) Convert this number into tons
                                                for input into WARM

                                                Step 2: Review the discussion on greenhouse
                                                gases and their relationship to waste and waste
                                                disposal (as described in Part 1: Step 1).

                                                Step 3: Access EPA's WARM calculator at
                                                . Explain that this tool is
                                                often used  by solid waste planners and organi-
                                                zations to track, report, and estimate the effects
                                                of various waste disposal methods on green-
                                                house gas emissions. The model calculates
                                                greenhouse gas emissions  for  baseline and
                                                alternative means of waste management.
                                                Discuss how people  can use models to predict
                                                possible future scenarios, such as the effect of
                                                certain  activities on air or water pollution,  or a
                                                new street layout on rush hour traffic condi-
                                                tions. Enter the information for baseline data as
                                                gathered by the clas:;. (Teachers can enter data
                                                into the online spreadsheets and print out the
                                                results but cannot save them. Therefore, teach-
                                                ers may choose to download the Microsoft
                                                Excel file, which can be saved.)

                                                Step 4: Working v/ith the students, enter data
                                                into the alternative management scenario  and
                                                complete the WARM spreadsheet. Review and
                                                discuss the results of various waste manage-
                                                ment practices on greenhouse gas emissions.
                                                Ask the class to observe whether the alternative
                                                management scenario reduced the amount of
                                                emissions. Why or why not? Try incorporating
                                                different waste management practices to view
                                                the effects on emissions and discuss the results
                                                with the class.

                                                       Assessment J
                                                   Ask the students v/hat they learned from
                                                   using the tool and how this might be appli-
                                                   cable to the real world. How might
                                                   communities use +ools such as WARM to
                                                   help manage their waste and minimize their
                                                   impacts on global climate change?

' ::_
Unit 2, Chapter 2.V, Landfills and Combustion
The Quest for Less

     y Enrichment J
   Contact a local solid waste planner or
   organization and ask them to fill out WARM.
   Had they heard of this tool before? How did
   their baseline and results compare with the

   How do greenhouse gas reductions
   achieved with alternative waste management
   methods relate to real life? Equivalency cal-
   culators convert emissions or energy  use
   reductions into more understandable terms,
   such as number of cars removed from the
   road or acres of trees planted.  Use the
   information generated  by the class and
   WARM to complete the  Greenhouse  Gas
   Equivalencies Calculator available at
   resources/calculator.html> or other tools
   available at . Discuss the results.
The Quest for Less
Unit 2, Chapter 2M, Landfills and Combustion

      Weekly "Wa^te Generation
Enter the amount of each item that you discard each day.
Aluminum Cans
Steel Cans
HOPE (plastic)
LDPE (plastic)
PET (plastic)
Mixed Plastics
White (printer) Paper
Food Scraps
Yard Trimmings
Mixed Paper (general)
Mixed Metals
Mixed Recyclables

Day 2

Day 3



   Unit 2, Chapter 2.f, Landfills and Combustion
                   The Quest for Less

Enter the amount of each item that you discard each day.
Aluminum Cans
Steel Cans
HOPE (plastic)
LDPE (plastic)
PET (plastic)
Mixed Plastics
White (printer) Paper
Food Scraps
Yard Trimmings
Mixed Paper (general)
Mixed Metals
Mixed Recyclables

Day 6

Day 7


The Quest for Less
               Unit 2, Chapter 2.f. Landfills and Combustion


Putting  It
A Review of Lessons and Options
Once students understand the range of available solid waste management
options—including their different purposes, benefits, and impacts—they are
ready for a series of activities that utilize and reinforce their accumulated
knowledge. This unit allows students to integrate the key lessons learned
from previous sections and exercise decision-making and analytical skills
while having  fun.



       Grade • Subject  •  Skills  Index
                               Waste Race        Join the Planet    Trash Town
                                               Protectors Club!
                                                                   liocker Leftovers    Memorable
                                                                                   Media Messages
                Language Arts
                Social Studies
                Problem Solving
                Motor Skills

                 *$ee Glossary of Skills for more details.
Unit 3, Putting It All Together
The Quest for Less

                                                                                     Grades 2-3
        Objective  J
To classify trash items as reusable, recyclable,
compostable, disposable, or household hazardous waste.
       Activity Description  J
Students will participate in a relay race to place trash
items in appropriate bins.
                Key Vocabulary Words J

                Household hazardous
       Materials Needed
   A variety of trash items in each of the categories listed
   in Step 1, supplied by the teacher (see below for sug-
   Two trash bags or wastebaskets
   Two sets  of colored stickers (e.g., red and blue)
   Five large plastic or metal  bins

  Waste  Race Suggested Items (no food items please)
                Duration  J

                 50 minutes

                Skills Used ]

                 Motor skills
Plastic packaging
Piece of cloth
Glass bottle
Aluminum can
Leaves or grass
Steel can
Plastic fork
Aerosol can
Piece of wood
Copy paper
Text book
Paper lunch bag
Paint can
Coffee can
Step  1! Review the Teacher Fact Sheets titled
Solid Waste on page 47, Hazardous Wasfe on
page 51, Recycling on page 101, and
Composting on page 141 for background
information. Review the different waste manage-
ment options with students to put the activity in
context. Discuss the different collected trash
items and where they should go when they are
done being used (e.g., trash, recycling bin,
compost pile).

Step 2:  Label five plastic bins/trash cans as
"Reusable," "Recyclable," "Compostable,"
"Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)," or
"Disposable Waste," respectively, and place
them throughout the room. (This activity will
work best in a large area like a gymnasium or a
playground so the students have enough room
to run around.) Review vocabulary with students.
The Qciest for Less
                          Unit 3, Patting It All Together

          Step 3: Collect trash items over a few days
          (see above for suggestions).  Collect enough for
          each student to have at least one turn
          participating in the race. Make sure the items
          are not dangerous for the students to handle
          (e.g., no sharp edges on open cans) and they
          should be cleaned, if necessary. Divide the items
          into two piles (one for each team), labeling the
          Red team's items with the red stickers and the
          Blue team's items with the blue stickers.

          Step 4: Have students form two lines/teams
          in the center of the room.

          Step 5: Explain to the students how a  relay
          race works. The teacher should pre-determine
          and announce a time limit for the race, based
          on the number of students and their level of
          familiarity with the subject. When the teacher
          signals for the race to start, the first student in
          each line will reach into his or her team's trash
          bag and pull out an  item. The two students will
          decide in which bin it belongs and run to the
          labeled plastic bin. After placing the trash item
          in the bin, the student will run back to the end
          of the line and the next two students will  repeat
          the same process. When the time limit has been
          exceeded, the teacher will end the race.  The
          object is to be the fastest team to sort the items

          Step 6: At the end of the race, empty  each
          bin one at a time so  all the students can see if
          the items were placed correctly. Encourage the
          students to discuss why each trash item was
          placed in its bin. Discuss whether some trash
          items can be placed  in more than one bin. The
          team that was able to place  the most items in
          the correct bin wins.

                                                  See Step 6.

                                                  Have students name an item not included in
                                                  the game that is reusable, recyclable, com-
                                                  postable, disposable, and/or household
                                                  hazardous waste.
                                                   ^ Enrichment  J
                                                1. Expand the Waste Race to include other
                                                  classrooms and possibly a tournament for a
                                                  great Earth Day activity.

                                                2. Explore the activties found in the Planet
                                                  Protector's Club kit. This kit was created by
                                                  EPA as a way to get students involved in
                                                  learning about their environment. It includes
                                                  two pocket guides (one for adults and  one
                                                  for children), an official membership certifi-
                                                  cate,  an official Planet Protectors Club
                                                  badge,  activity guides for grades K-3 and 4-
                                                  6, and a Planet protectors Club poster. To
                                                  order this  kit, call EPA at (800) 490-9198
                                                  and ask for document number EPA530-E-
Unit 3, Putting It All Together
         The Quest for Less

                                                                         Grades 3-6
Join the Planet Protectors
      Objective J

Establish a Planet Protectors Club at your school.
Key Vocabulary Words J
      Activity Description J
At Planet Protectors Club meetings, students can discuss
environmental issues and develop projects they can
engage in at school and in their community.
      Materials Needed J
Planet Protectors Club kits (one for each teacher/group
leader; order free copies by calling (800) 490-91 98 and
referencing document number EPA530-E-98-002 or
visiting )
Welcome Note
Planet Protectors Club Duties and Responsibilities list
                                                     Skills Used )
 Waste Reduction
Duration J

 Regularly scheduled
 meetings based on local
 needs and resources.
                                                     Skills will differ based on
                                                     local projects, but may
                                                     Motor skills
                                                     Problem solving
The Quest for Less
         Unit 3, Putting It All Together

                  Activity J
          Step 1:  Order and review the contents of
          EPA's Planet Protectors Club kit. Plan and publi-
          cize a kick-off meeting for teachers or volunteers
          who will  lead the meetings.  Use the clip art pro-
          vided to  create signs and other materials. If
          there is an existing, relevant school-wide initia-
          tive  (e.g., new beverage container recycling
          program) that could involve Planet Protectors
          Club members, discuss the members' potential
          roles (e.g., monitoring collection bins and edu-
          cating students).
          Step 2:  Enlist students to join the club and
          schedule the first meeting. At the meeting, give
          each student the Welcome Note, Mission Papers
          folder, and Planet Protectors badge  (you may
          want to reserve several components of the kit to
          hand out individually at subsequent meetings).
          Describe the Planet Protectors  Club  and the
          types of  projects in which members will be
          involved  (these will be unique to your school;
          see the list of ideas below).  Have them read and
          sign the  Planet Protectors Club Duties and
          Step 3:  If you have decided to hand out
          pieces of the Planet Protectors Club kit one at a
          time, hand out one piece at each meeting and
          plan activities  related to it. Alternatively, or after
          you have handed out all the pieces, you can
          plan school- or community-related activities  for
          members. Possible activities include:

          •   Picking up  litter from school grounds.
          •   Initiating a recycling program (e.g., for cans,
              bottles, paper)  in your school or monitoring
              one that already exists  to make sure it is
          •   Initiate a waste reduction program, such  as a
              "materials exchange" where students and
              teachers bring in items (e.g., sports equip-
              ment, clothing, school  supplies) for exchange
              and/or donation.
          •   Plan field trips to local recycling  centers.
          •   Invite speakers from your local government's
              environmental/recycling office or a nonprofit
                                                   organization to give presentations.
                                                Other ideas for Planet Protectors Club
                                                activities/projects can be found in the following
                                                resources (visit  or call (800) 490-9198
                                                for ordering information):

                                                •  Reuse + Recycling =  Waste Reduction: A
                                                   Guide for Schools and Groups (EPA530-K-
                                                •  Service-Learning  Education Beyond the
                                                   Classroom (EPA530-K-02-001)
                                                •  Volunteer for Change: A Guide to
                                                   Environmental Community Service (EPA530-
                                                     ^Assessment J
                                                Students should be individually assessed based
                                                on participation, effort, interest, or other rele-
                                                vant criteria.
                                                    ^jy Enrichment J
                                                 1. Enlist adult volunteers to administer Planet
                                                   Protectors Clubs in several district schools.
                                                   Prepare a volunteer agreement/code of con-
                                                   duct for them to sign and have them fill out
                                                   any paperwork required by your school.
                                                 2. Hold  an  "EnviroFair" or other event that
                                                   brings together all Planet Protectors Club
                                                   members from your district. Members can
                                                   share information about their local projects
                                                   and/or participate in a large-scale project.
                                                 3. Integrate Planet Protectors Club activities into
                                                   the regular school curriculum, such as
                                                   calculating the  results of a recycling survey
                                                   for a  math lesson.


unit 3. Putting It All Together
The Quest for Less


                                           Student   Handout
"Welcome to the Planet Protectors Clvfol

fhis folder contains your Mission Papers.
They are very important papers that include
an activity book and a Planet Protector
badge. j&t each, club meeting, you will work on
an activity to add to your Mission Papers. Keep
them safe and bring them to every meeting.

fa a Planet Protectors Club member, you will
learn about environmental issues and help
save the planet by performing tasks at your
School, at home, and throughout the
community. You will also be able to help your
fellow students learn about protecting the
environment  by sharing the lessons you
learn •with them.
The Quest for Less
                                                      Unit 3, Putting It All Together


                            a member of the Planet Protectors £lub, I
                          promise to perform the following duties and
                           responsibilities to the best of my ability:
                           Student's Signature

Unit 3. Patting It All Together
The Quest for Less

Clip £rt
     The Quest for Less
Unit 3. Putting It All Together



                                                                                      Grades 4-6
        Objective  J
                Key Vocabulary Words J
To teach students about the costs involved in waste
       Activity Description J
After reading about Trash Town, students will complete
math  problems to assess the cost of disposal and
       Materials Needed J
   One copy of Trash Town worksheet per student
   One pencil per student
   One calculator per student (optional)
                 Tipping fee
                 ]  hour
                 Problem solving
        Activity J
Step 1: Photocopy and distribute the Trash
Town worksheet to each student. Introduce the
following concepts to your class (refer to the
Teacher Fact Sheet titled Solid Waste on page
47 for more information):
•  It costs us money to dispose of our
   garbage. The more garbage we generate,
   the more money we pay for disposal!
•  Landfills charge a fee for accepting trash
   (tipping fee).

•  We can save money by recycling, compost-
   ing, reusing, or source reducing  instead of
   throwing out garbage.

•  We can earn money by recycling because
   recycled materials can be sold to
  The Economics of Trash
  •   Landfill Tipping  Fee—Communities that want
     to dispose of their waste in a landfill must
     pay the landfill owners a fee, based on the
     number of tons  of waste they discard.
  •   Recyclables Market—Recycling can be
     profitable! Communities that collect
     recyclable items can sell those items to
     manufacturers for reuse. Communities can
     check the recyclables marketplace to find out
     the current, per-ton prices associated with
     different recyclable materials.

Step  2: Pass out calculators to each stu-
dent. Ask the  students to carefully read the
Trash Town worksheet and complete the math
problems related to the town's disposal and
recycling practices. (Teachers can decide
whether this worksheet should be completed
in groups or individually.)
The Quest for Less
                          Unit 3, Putting It All Together

                  Journal Activity J
           Ask students to pretend that they
           are the mayor of Trash Town. If
           the residents of their town com-
           plained about the price of
           garbage disposal, what would
           they tell  them?
           1. Collect the Trash Town worksheets and eval-
             uate the computations and answers.

           2. Ask students to identify the most expensive
             element of garbage disposal. Ask them
             whether it's more costly to recycle and reuse
             or to throw everything away.

           3. Ask students to list some of the cost consid-
             erations involved in garbage disposal.
              ^ Enrichment J
            . Conduct a "Pay-As-You-Throw" (PAYT) exper-
             iment in the classroom or lunchroom. Hand
             out the same amount of fake money to each
  student and charge them based on the
  amount of trash they throw away from their
  lunch. (One paper bag = $100, one plastic
  bag = $200, one aluminum can = $500, etc.)
  Keep this up for a few days and see if the stu-
  dents can bring in lunches that are less costly
  the next day (less wasteful). See who ends up
  with the most fake money at the end of the
  week and give  that  person a prize for  being
  "waste wise." You can also explain to  students
  that more than 4,000 communities across the
  country have PAYT programs where citizens
  are charged based  on the amount of garbage
  they throw away.

2. Contact your local solid waste agency to
  obtain actual waste; statistics and costs for your
  own community. Have students use these num-
  bers to  find out how much money the
  community spends on garbage disposal per
  day, per week,  or per year.

3. Have students devise a plan for helping the
  residents of Trash Town save more money and
  protect  the environment. Ask the students to
  write a  speech  or article explaining their new
  plan to the residents of Trash Town—what
  needs to be recycled and how, how the  resi-
  dents will benefit, and how the environment
            Answer Key

     How many tons of garbage does the entire Trash
     Town generate per day?  1 1 fl tons	
                Per year?  fQ.150 tons
            2.  How much does it cost for Trash Town to throw all of
                its garbage into a landfill each year?

            3.  If Trash Town started a recycling program and recy-
                cled 30 percent of its garbage each year, how many
                tons of recyclables would be collected?
4   If Trash Town recycled 30 percent of its garbage per
    year, how many tons of trash would still be sent to
    the landfill? 9 fl 10^ tons _
                                               5.  How much money (in less tipping fees) would Trash
                                                   Town save from recycling 30 percent of its garbage
                                                   per year? ftlffll DDCl _

                                               6.  How much money would Trash Town earn from recy-
                                                   cling 30 percent of its garbage per year?
                                               7.  How much could Trash Town earn if it started recy-
                                                   cling 50 percent of it; garbage per year?
                                                             What about 60 percent?

Unit 3, Putting It All Together
                                The Quest for Less

     Welcome to
                             Greetings! I'm Ruby Rubbish, the
                             mayor of Trash Town, and I want
                             to thank you for visiting our com-
                             munity. Are you good with
                             numbers? Do you know what's
                             best for the environment? We need
                           your help! The residents of Trash
                        Town are spending lots of money to haul
                      and dump their garbage in the local landfill.
                     Our landfill is filling up fast and we worry
                   about what all this trash is doing to our envi-
                ronment Plus, we can't afford to keep paying so
much for our garbage disposal. We've heard that other towns  are
helping to protect the environment by recycling and reusing items
instead of throwing them away. We've also heard that some com-
munities can make money by recycling. Unfortunately, the Trash Town
garbage specialist is on vacation and we need someone to
answer all of our questions about garbage disposal
immediately. If I give you all of the information, can
you help? If
you can fig-
ure out the
solutions to
our ques-
tions on the
next page,
you'll be the
hero of
Trash Town!!

   Student   Handout
                                         1 .How many tons of garbage does the entire Trash Town
                                           generate per day?
                                           Per year?
                                         2.How much does it cost for Trash "own to throw all of its
                                           garbage into a landfill each year?
                                         3. If Trash Town started a recycling program and recycled 30
                                           percent of its garbage each year, how many tons of recy-
                                           clables would be collected?
          4.  If Trash Town recycled 30 percent of its garbage per year, how many tons of trash would still be
              sent to the landfill?	

          5.  How much money (in less tipping fees) would Trash Town save from recycling 30 percent of its
              garbage per year?	

          6.  How much money would Trash Town earn from recycling 30 percent of its garbage per year?
          7.  How much could Trash Town earn if it started recycling 50 percent of its garbage per year?
              What about 60 percent?
          Can you face the Trash Town challenge? The following information will help you solve the word
          problems below.

          Different types of recycled materials earn different amounts of money in the recyclables
          marketplace. For example:
          Plastic bottles: $ 15/ton    Cardboard: ffO/ton       Magazines: $5/ton         Steel: $?0/ton
          Aluminum cans: $fO/ton     Newspaper: $15/ton       Glass: $15/ton

          1. How much money would Trash Town earn for recycling 250 tons of newspaper and 30 tons of
            steel per year?	

          2. If Trash Town recycles 20 percent of its total annual garbage and 15 percent of that garbage is
            aluminum cans and 5 percent is magazines, how much money will it earn in total?	

          3. How many pounds of cardboard would Trash Town have to recycle in order to earn more than
            $39.000 per year?	

                                                                               Grades 7-8
Locker  tief taver?
       Objective J
              Key Vocabulary Words J
To help students realize the amount of trash they
produce and help them recognize the difference
between trash, recycled products, and reusable
       Activity Description J
                                                         Duration J
                                                          2 hours
Students from one class or one grade will collect items
while cleaning out lockers and desks and sort them into
recyclables, reusables, and trash.
              Skills Used )
       Materials Needed J
Large trash bags or containers
Step 1. Before winter break, spring break,
and/or at the end of the school year, have stu-
dents clean out their lockers and/or desks and
place the contents into large bags or contain-
ers. Have them pay close attention to items
that can  be reused or recycled. Before begin-
ning the  clean-out, give some examples of
items that are trash and items that can be
reused or recycled. For example, old papers
and notebooks can be recycled. Pens and
other writing implements that are in working
order can be reused. Bottles and cans are
recyclable, and books can be donated to a
local charity. Generally, food items should be
thrown away, unless they are compostable or
the packaging  (e.g., bottle, can, cardboard)
can be recycled.
The Quest for Less '
Step 2. After their lockers are empty, have
students take the trash bags to a large sorting
area, such as the school gym. Have the stu-
dents sort through the bags/containers for
reusable and/or  recyclable items, discarding
trash (students can work in shifts if space is
limited or if the volume to be sorted is very
large). Before sorting, count the number of
trash bags. When finished sorting, count the
number of bags actually being disposed of.
Students can also quantify recyclables by
weighing or counting them.
                       Unit 3. Putting It All Together

                Assessment  J
         1. Ask students how they have gone about
           cleaning out their lockers in the past. What
           was different this time?
            ^ Enrichment J
         1.  Extend the activity to your school's library or
            storage rooms and donate books and other
            materials to local organizations. (It's best to
            line up an organization willing to accept the
            reusables before beginning a clean out proj-
            ect.) Note: Chemical storage areas should
            not be part of this activity. Only personnel
            trained in chemical hazards should take on
            this task.

         2.  Expand this activity to include more classes,
            more grades, or the whole school. A 7th-8th
            grade class can coordinate the effort. They
            can collect and  sort items for their own class-
            room to develop a  baseline for estimating
            volunteers, bags/containers, and volumes of
            trash and recyclables.
         3.  If recyclables can be returned for deposits in
            your area, use this activity to raise funds for
            your school's band, science or environmental
            club or other activities.
         Unit 3, Putting It All Together
The Quest for Less

                                                                                Grades 6-8
Memorable Media
       Objective J
             Key Vocabulary Words J
To encourage students to develop their own envi-
ronmental beliefs and messages by creating a
public service announcement (PSA) about the topics
they have covered previously in the Quest for Less
       Activity Description J
Work in groups to develop a live production (a live
"television" or "radio" PSA) promoting environmental
messages from the Quest for Less curriculum to present
to other students.
              Natural resources
              Source reduction
       Materials Needed  J
             Duration J
              Two classroom periods
Skills Used  ]
For a televised PSA, students can create props using class-
room materials, or items made during other Quest for Less
       Activity J
Step 1: Introduce and define a public service
announcement (PSA) with students. Explain to the
students that successful PSAs must grab the atten-
tion of the intended audience and present the key
message effectively so that it is retained in the
minds of the target audience. To do this, the PSA
must use an appropriate type of appeal/incentive
and be credible, understood, and considered rel-
evant by the intended audience. Present to
students examples of a television, radio, or mag-
azine PSA (refer to PSA example on  page 217) so
that they understand the concept.

Step 2: Divide students into groups. Assign or
allow them to choose a topic from  the Quest for
Less curriculum (e.g., the value  of composting,
recycling, reducing waste).
Step 3: Devote one classroom period for stu-
dents to research, brainstorm, and  plan their PSA.

Step 4: Give students a deadline for research
homework to supplement information gleaned
from Quest for Less.
  What Is a Public Service Announcement
  (PSA)? A PSA is an announcement on televi-
  sion, radio, or promotional materials (e.g.
  billboards, posters, brochures) serving the
  public  interest and run by the media at no
  charge. PSAs differ from regular commer-
  cials because rather than selling a product,
  they are generally developed to prevent a
  behavior from starting, stop a behavior, or
  encourage adoption  of a new behavior.
The Quest for Less
                       Unit 3. Putting It All Together

          Step 5: Devote a second classroom period for
          each group to perform their PSA for the class.
               •^Assessment j
           1. Ask students which PSAs were the most effec-
             tive and why.
           2. Ask students why PSAs are an effective
             method of educating the public about envi-
             ronmental issues.
           3. Ask students to discuss what other methods
             can be used for disseminating environmental
             information to the public.
              20 Enrichment  J
           1. Have students create a survey assessing
             knowledge on their designated PSA topic.
             Allow students to administer the survey to
             another class, preferably a class that had not
             worked on the Quest for Less curriculum.
             Then allow students to perform their PSAs to
             the other class. They may also create a fol-
             low-up survey to compare to the first survey
             to determine how effective their PSAs were to
             the other class.
           2. Have students create print PSAs (e.g., posters
             or brochures) advocating their positions.
             These could be displayed in the school or in
             a community center.
           3. Allow students time to create props and cos-
             tumes for their PSAs. Videotape their
             commercials and  have them broadcast on a
             school educational channel or a public
             access television.  Radio PSAs  can be record-
             ed or broadcast over the school's public
             address system.
                                                 Examples of Public Service
                                                 1 . 
                                                  1 . 
                                                  4. 3rgystar.gov/index.cfm?c=

Unit 3, Putting It All Together
The Quest for Less










      The Quest for Less
                                                                                                       -Unit 3,. Patting It All Together






Note: This glossary defines unfamiliar terms specifically related to solid waste and the environment;
some words listed in the activities under "Vocabulary" will not be found in this glossary.

                                                    Backyard composters can use their compost as
                                                    a soil enhancement for their gardens.
                                                    Bacteria—single-celled microorganisms. Certain
                                                    types of bacteria break down organic materials
                                                    (using an aerobic and/or anaerobic process).
                                                    Bedding—organic material, such as shredded
                                                    newspaper,  used to retain moisture and allow
                                                    proper air circulation and drainage to provide a
                                                    healthy environment for worms in a verm/com-
                                                    posting container.
                                                    Biodegradable—materials that can decompose,
                                                    usually by bacteria  or sunlight, into basic com-
                                                    ponents. Most organic materials (paper,  grass
                                                    clippings, food scraps), under the right condi-
Backyard compostmg-the homeowner s prac-           Qre biod    dabk
tice ot collecting leftover kitchen scraps
(excluding meats and fats) and yard trimmings       Biodiversity (also biological diversity)—indicated
for decomposition in a private compost pile.         by the numbers of different species of  plants and
Aerobic—with oxygen. During the composting
process, certain bacteria need oxygen to break
down the mix of organic materials. This is
known as aerobic decomposition.
Anaerobic—without oxygen. In a landfill, certain
bacteria decompose organic materials without
oxygen and create methane gas through a
process known as anaerobic decomposition.
Ash (also combustion ash)—solid residue that
remains after the combustion, or burning, of waste.
   Common Recyclable Items and Related  Terms
   Aluminum—a lightweight, silver-white, metallic element
   that makes up approximately 7 percent of the Earth's
   crust. Aluminum is used in a variety of ways, but perhaps
   most familiarly in the manufacture of soft drink cans.

   Bauxite—a rock in which aluminum is found in high

   Cardboard—a thin, stiff material made of paper pulp
   and used in making cartons and other forms of packag-

   Gullet—clean, generally color-sorted, crushed glass
   used to make new glass products.

   Fibers—the long, thick-walled cells that give strength
   and support to plant tissue. The fibers of wood and
   cloth are used in making paper.

   Glass—hard, brittle, generally transparent or translucent
   material typically formed from the rapid cooling of liq-
   uefied minerals. Most commercial glass is made from a
   molten mixture of soda ash, sand,  and lime.

   Metal—an element that usually has a shiny surface, is a
   good conductor of heat and electricity, and can be
                                                    melted down, fused, or hammered. Metals include iron,
                                                    gold, sodium, copper, magnesium, tin, and aluminum.

                                                    Paper—a thin material made of pulp from wood, rags,
                                                    or other fibrous materials and used for writing, printing,
                                                    or wrapping.

                                                    Plastic—a material made from petroleum capable of
                                                    being molded, extruded, or cast into various shapes.
                                                    There are many different kinds of plastic made from dif- •
                                                    ferent combinations of compounds.

                                                    Pulp—a mixture of fibrous material such as wood, rags,
                                                    and paper, that is ground up and moistened to be used
                                                    in making paper or cardboard.

                                                    Steel—a strong, durable material made of iron and car-
                                                    bon, and often other metals,  to achieve different
                                                    properties. Steel is often used as a component in cans
                                                    and as a structural material in construction.

                                                    Tin—a soft silver-white metallic element, capable of
                                                    being easily molded and having a low melting point. Tin
                                                    is often used together with other metals in making cans
                                                    for packaging.
The Qaest for Less
                                                                                     Glossary of Terms

           animals found in a natural environment. Many
           different species of plants and animals within an
           ecosystem is indicative of a healthy environment.
           Brownfields—abandoned or unused industrial
           and commercial land that cannot be developed
           or expanded because of real or perceived con-
           tamination with toxic substances.
           Bulk—when food or other products are sold
           unpackaged or in large volumes to reduce pack-
           aging waste. Consumers who buy one large
           bottle of juice rather than many small containers
           of juice, for example, are "buying in bulk."
           Byproduct—excess material or waste produced in
           addition to the primary product. Sludge is a
           byproduct from the manufacture of paper, for
           example. Many manufacturers look for innovative
           ways to reuse or recycle the byproducts created
           during the production process to reduce waste.
           Carbon dioxide—a naturally occuring gas in the
           atmosphere, released by oceans, decaying veg-
           etation, and the respiration of living creatures
           and plants. Also a greenhouse gas created by
           human activities such as foss/7 fuel combustion.
           Castings—manure from  red wriggler worms that
           can be used as a soil conditioner to provide
           aeration,  drainage, and  nutrients to soil.
           Climate—the average course or condition of
           weather over a period of years based on condi-
           tions of heat and cold, moisture and dryness,
           clearness  and cloudiness, wind  and calm, applied
           to a specific location or globally. Southern Florida,
           for example, has a sunny, dry, warm climate.
           Closing the loop—purchasing products made
           from recycled materials.  Recycling is a cycle. It
           is not enough simply to collect recyclables for
           manufacture into new products.  People must
           then buy  products made with recycled content,
           thus closing the loop.
           Combustion/Incineration—a rapid chemical
           process that produces heat, gas, ash, and usually
           light through burning. This process is one option
           for the disposal of municipal solid waste. It can
           also be used as a treatment or disposal option for
           hazardous waste. See combustor, waste-to-energy.
                                                Combustor/lncinerator—a facility for the con-
                                                trolled burning of waste. Burning municipal solid
                                                waste can reduce its volume and weight. Some
                                                facilities capture energy from the steam or heat
                                                that is produced during the burning process. (See
                                                waste-to-energy.) Burning hazardous waste can be
                                                considered a form of treatment and can reduce
                                                the hazardous components of the waste.
                                                Compaction—the act or process of pressing
                                                materials together to occupy the smallest volume
                                                possible; a common practice at a sanitary landfill.
                                                Compost—a crumbly, earthy, sweet-smelling
                                                mixture  of decomposing organic matter (e.g.,
                                                leaves, food scraps) created in a controlled, fher-
                                                moph/7/c environmen~ that is often used to
                                                improve the texture, water-retaining capacity,
                                                and aeration of soil.
                                                Composting—the controlled biological decom-
                                                position of organic material under aerobic or
                                                anaerobic conditions. Organic materials are bro-
                                                ken down (decomposed by microorganisms) into
                                                compost, also known as humus. Composting can
                                                occur in a backyard bin, a pile, long windrows,
                                                or in a vermicomposfng container.
                                                Conservation—the protection or wise use of
                                                natural  resources thct ensures their continuing
                                                availability to future generations; the intelligent
                                                use of natural  resources for long-term benefits.
                                                Consumption—the amount of any product or
                                                resource (e.g., material or energy) used in a
                                                given time by a given number of consumers.
                                                Contamination—the process of adding one sub-
                                                stance to another substance, such as as motor
                                                oil to water, that reduces its quality; to make
                                                impure  or unsafe by contact with potentially
                                                harmful substances.
                                                Corrosive—a substance capable of dissolving or
                                                breaking down other substances (especially met-
                                                als) or causing skin burns. A corrosive has a  pH
                                                level below 2 or above 12.5.
                                                "Cradle-to-grave"—from generation to dispos-
                                                al; a term used in reference to solid or
                                                hazardous waste.

Glossary of Terms
The Quest for Less

Decompose—to break down into basic compo-
nents, given the right conditions of light, air, and
moisture; refers to materials such as food and
other plant and animal matter.
Deforestation—the clearing and removal of
trees from a forested area.
Disposable—products or materials that can be
or are usually thrown away after one use or a
limited amount of time. For example, used
paper plates are disposable.
Disposal—refers to the process of throwing
away unwanted materials.  These materials are
placed in a landfill or combusted rather than
recycled, reused, or composted.
Disposal cell—a fixed area in a sanitary landfill
where waste is disposed  of, compacted into the
smallest space possible,  and then covered with
soil on a daily basis.
Durable—goods that can be used more than
once and withstand long use, wear, and decay.
Appliances are examples of durable goods.
Dump—site where waste is disposed of in an
unmanaged, uncovered area. Current  landfill
restrictions have  made dumps illegal. See sani-
tary landfill.
Ecosystem—community of plants and animals
that interact with one another and with the sur-
rounding nonliving environment. Examples of
ecosystems include ponds, forests, and beaches.
Effluent—waste material discharged into the
environment;  refers to the treated liquid emitted
from a manufacturing facility or municipal
wastewater treatment plant.
Emission—the discharge of gases or particles,
such as from  a smokestack or automobile
Energy—capacity for a system or an object to
do work (i.e., cause a change by pulling, push-
ing, or heating).  Energy generated from
/nc/nerafion, for example, can be harnessed to
provide electrical power for communities.
Environment—the external conditions that influ-
ence the development and survival of an
organism or population; usually refers to air,
water, land, plants, and animals.
Environmental impact—the effect of an activity
or substance on the environment.
Environmentally preferable products—those prod-
ucts that have a reduced effect on human health
and the environment when compared to other
products that serve the same purpose. For
example, products that contain recycled content,
require less energy or create less waste during
production and manufacture, use less packaging,
or are reusable or recyclable are preferable.
and burns.
-describes a substance that ignites
Food chain—the transfer of food energy from
one organism to the next. As one example of a
simple food chain, an insect consumes a plant
and is then consumed by a  bird.
Food web—the complex and interlocking net-
works of food chains within  ecosystems where
plants and animals coexist and depend on one
another for energy needs.

Fossil fuels—fuels such as petroleum or coal
formed over millions of years from the remains
of ancient organic materials.
Geothermal energy—the internal heat of the
earth collected from underground concentra-
tions of steam or hot water trapped in fractured
or porous rock.
Global climate change—natural or human
induced change in the average global tempera-
ture of the atmosphere near the Earth's surface.
This condition poses serious dangers around the
world,  potentially prompting such disasters as
flooding, drought, and disease.

Grasscycling—refers to a method of source
reduction whereby grass clippings are left on
the lawn  rather than  bagged and set out for
The Quest for Less
                               Glossary of Terms

          Greenhouse effect—the excessive trapping of
          heat in the Earth's atmosphere by a blanket of
          gases. Gases such as water vapor, methane,
          and carbon dioxide exist naturally and help
          retain the Earth's normal surface temperature.
          Changes in the normal volume of gases in the
          atmosphere, due to human-induced activities,
          are believed to contribute to global climate
          Greenhouse gas—gas such as methane, nitrous
          oxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide,
          and certain chlorinated hydrocarbons that
          affects the  overall heat-retaining properties of
          the Earth's atmosphere. A build-up of these
          gases creates a warming of the Earth's atmos-
          phere, thus changing  the global climate.
          Ground water—water stored in porous spaces of
          soil and rock underground. Many communities
          depend on ground water for their drinking water.
           Habitat—an area where a living organism is
           typically located that provides adequate food,
           water, shelter,  and living space for survival.

           Hazardous waste—waste that is often produced
           in large quantities by businesses and industrial
           facilities that can be defined as toxic, ignitable,
           corrosive, or reactive. This type of waste is regu-
           lated by a law called the Resource Conservation
           and Recovery  Act (RCRA) to minimize risks to
           human health and the  environment.
           Household hazardous waste—small quantities of
           unused or leftover hazardous products used in
           the home that become waste. Paints, pesticides,
           and some cleaners are examples of household
           hazardous waste. Caution must be taken when
           handling, storing, or disposing of these products.

           Humus—the organic portion of soil; a sub-
           stance resulting  from the decay of plant and/or
           animal matter by microorganisms.
           Ignitable—capable of burning; will catch fire at
           temperatures less than 140° F.
           Incineration—see combustion/incineration.
           Incinerators—see combustor/incinerator.
                                                Integrated waste management—the comple-
                                                mentary use of a variety of waste management
                                                practices to safely and effectively handle munici-
                                                pal solid waste. These practices include source
                                                reduction, recycling, composting, combustion,
                                                waste-to-energy, and landfilling.

                                                Landfill—see son/far;/ landfill.

                                                Landfill reclamation—the process whereby old
                                                disposal cells are excavated to recover recycla-
                                                ble items.
                                                Landfilling—the process of hauling waste to a
                                                landfill cell for disposal.
                                                Leachate—occurs when precipitation seeps
                                                through a landfill  and mixes with toxic  and non-
                                                toxic liquids, some o~ which are created during
                                                biological decompos/fion. A sanitary landfill usu-
                                                ally has a-leachate collection system where
                                                leachate is collected from the landfill and treated
                                                to prevent the contamination of ground water.
                                                Leachate collection system—a system  of layers
                                                and pipes, located between the primary and
                                                secondary liners in a landfill, designed to cap-
                                                ture all leachate anc prevent groundwater
                                                Leachate recovery facility—a special facility
                                                designed to collect liquids leaching out of a land-
                                                fill to remove harmful or particulate materials.
                                                Life cycle—the complete cycle of events occur-
                                                ring over the lifetime  of an animate or inanimate
                                                object. For example,  in the  life cycle of a plant,
                                                seeds are dropped in the ground; soil, water,
                                                and composf help the plants grow; the plants
                                                drop seeds;  the plants die and become compost;
                                                new seeds grow into  new plants. A product life
                                                cycle is the series of steps involved in manufac-
                                                turing; distributing; using; reusing, recycling, or
                                                ultimately disposing of a product.

                                                Liner—a layer of  plastic or clay placed in a san-
                                                itary landfill to prevent leachate from escaping
                                                and contaminating surrounding ground water.
Glossary of Terms
The Quest for Less

Manufacturing—the process of turning raw
materials into a product or good by hand or
Methane—a colorless, odorless, flammable gas
formed by the anaerobic decomposition of
organic waste in a landfill.  Methane also is a
greenhouse gas that contributes to global cli-
mate change. Many sanitary landfills have  a
system in place for methane gas recovery. These
facilities collect some of the methane and sell it
as a source of energy for heating  buildings,
manufacturing products, or other  uses.
Materials Recovery Facility  (MRF)—a site where
recyclebles are sorted and  prepared into mar-
ketable commodities for manufacturing.

Microorganisms—organisms of microscopic
size, such  as bacteria, amoeba, and viruses.
Municipal—properties, goods, and  services owned
or operated by a  city or county government.
Municipal solid waste—wastes such as durable
goods, disposable goods, containers and pack-
aging, food scraps, yard trimmings, and
miscellaneous inorganic wastes from house-
holds, some commercial establishments (e.g.,
businesses or restaurants), institutions (e.g.,
schools or hospitals), and some industrial
sources. It does not include nonhazardous
industrial wastes,  sewage, agricultural waste,
hazardous waste, or construction and demoli-
tion waste. Also known as garbage, trash,
refuse, or debris.
Municipal solid waste landfill—see sanitary
Natural resources—raw materials or energy
supplied by nature and its processes (e.g.,
water, minerals, plants). Trees are a  natural
resource used to make paper, and sunlight is a
natural resource that can be used to heat
NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)—a term indicating
the attitude of individuals who oppose siting a
disposal facility in their communities.
Nonrenewable resources—naturally occurring
raw materials that are exhaustible and become
depleted more quickly than they naturally regen-
erate. Some nonrenewable resources, such as
peat, petroleum, and metals, are only available
in limited quantities, take a long time to form,
and are used up rapidly.
Nontoxic—does  not contain substances that are
harmful, poisonous, or destructive.
Oil (crude oil)—unrefined liquid petroleum.
Open dumps—the outdated, unsanitary practice of
discarding waste in unlined, unprepared land sites.
Organic—from a living organism  (e.g., plant,
animal, person, or bacteria). Also refers to a
product grown or manufactured only with natu-
ral materials (e.g., corn grown with compost
and not chemical fertilizer or pesticides; sham-
poo made from plants instead of human-made
Organism—a living body made up of cells and
tissue; examples include trees, animals, humans,
and bacteria.
Packaging—a cover, wrapper, container, or sta-
bilizer (e.g., strapping or pallet) designed to
store, transport, display, and protect a product
and/or attract purchasers.
Pathogen—an organism that causes disease,
such as e. co// or salmonella typhi bacteria.
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT)—see  unit-based

Petroleum—a fossil fuel extracted from natural
deposits deep in the Earth;  consists of a  mixture
of solids, liquids, and gases that are physically
separated (refined) into products such as
gasoline, wax, asphalt, and petrochemical feed-
stocks, which are the building blocks of many
plastics. Also sometimes known  as oil (crude

pH—a measure of acidity or alkalinity. The pH
scale ranges from 0 to 1 4.  A substance with a
value less than 7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and
above 7 is  alkaline.
The Quest for Less
                                Glossary of Terms

          Photovoltaic (PV)—technology for converting
          sunlight directly into electricity.
          Pollutant—a liquid, gas, dust, or solid material
          that causes contamination of air, water, earth,
          and living organisms.
          Pollution—the contamination of soil, water,  or
          the atmosphere by the discharge of harmful
          Pollution prevention—preventing or reducing
          pollution where it originates, at the source—
          including practices that conserve natural
          resources through  increased efficiency in the use
          of raw materials, energy, water, and land. See
          waste minimization.

          Postconsumer content—percentage of materials
          recovered by consumers (from the municipal
          solid waste stream). For example, a newspaper
          might be made from 30 percent  recovered

          Postconsumer materials—materials recovered
          through recycling programs (i,e., materials
          recovered from the municipal solid waste
          stream, not from internal  industrial processes).
          These materials are often used to make new
          products. Newspapers that are recycled by con-
          sumers, for example, are a postconsumer
          material used  to make newsprint.
          Preconsumer content—percentage of materials
          salvaged for reuse from th,e waste stream  of a
          manufacturing process (rather than from con-
          sumers) subsequently used to manufacture a
          Processing—see manufacturing.
          Product—item manufactured by hand or by
          industry for consumers to purchase and use.

          Pulp—a mixture of fibrous material such as
          wood, rags, and paper, ground up and mois-
          tened to be used in making paper or
           Raw materials—unprocessed materials used in
           the manufacture of products. These unprocessed
           materials can be either natural substances such
                                                as wood or metals or recovered materials such
                                                as crushed glass from residential recycling.
                                                Reactive—tending to react spontaneously with
                                                air, solids, or water,  explode when  dropped, or
                                                emit toxic gases.
                                                Recovered material content—see recycled content.
                                                Recovered materials—materials used in a man-
                                                ufacturing process that are obtained from
                                                municipal recycling programs or collected from
                                                industrial processes  (e.g., short paper fibers left
                                                over after making  high-grade paper may be
                                                used to make paperboard).
                                                Recovered resources—see resource recovery.
                                                Recycling—collecting, sorting, processing, and
                                                converting materials that would  have been
                                                thrown away into raw materials used to make
                                                the same or  new products.
                                                Recycling loop—the  cycle of collecting and pro-
                                                cessing, manufacturirg products with recycled
                                                content, and  purchasing products containing
                                                recycled  materials. Consumers "close the recy-
                                                cling loop" when they buy recycled-content items.
                                                Recycled content—also  known as recovered
                                                material content, is the  percentage of material a
                                                product is made from that has been recovered
                                                from consumers in the municipal solid waste
                                                stream (posfconsumer contenf) plus any industri-
                                                al materials salvaged for reuse (preconsumer

                                                Recyclable—material that still has  useful physi-
                                                cal or chemical properties after serving  its
                                                original purpose and can be reused or remanu-
                                                factured to make new products. Plastic, paper,
                                                glass,  steel and aluminum cans, and used oil
                                                are examples of recyclable materials.

                                                Residential—refers to homes and neighborhoods.
                                                Resource Conservation  and Recovery Act
                                                (RCRA)—a set of regulations that control the
                                                management of hazardous waste to protect
                                                human health and the environment.

                                                Resource recovery—the  process of  obtaining
                                                materials from waste that can be used as raw
                                                materials in the manufacture of new products or
                                                converting these materials into some form of fuel
                                                or energy source. An integrated resource recovery

Glossary of Terms
The Quest for Less

program may include recycling, waste-to-energy,
composting, and/or other components.
Resources—materials used to make products,
generate heat, produce electricity, or perform
work. See natural resources, nonrenewab/e
resources, and renewable resources.
Renewable resource—naturally occurring raw
material that comes from a limitless or cyclical
source such as the sun, wind, water (hydroelec-
fricity), or trees. When properly used and
managed, renewable resources are not con-
sumed faster than they are replenished.
Reusable—material that can be used again, either
for its original purpose, or for a new purpose.
Reuse—a type of source reduction activity
involving the recovery or  reapplication of a
package, used product, or material in a manner
that retains its original form or identity.
Runoff—water, usually from precipitation (rain),
that flows across the ground—rather than soak-
ing into it—and eventually enters a body of
water. Sometimes carries  substances, such as
soil or contaminants, into a water body.
Sanitary landfill—a site where waste is managed
to prevent or minimize health, safety, and
environmental impacts. To develop a sanitary
landfill, communities excavate soil and install an
impermeable liner, made of plastic or clay, to
prevent the contamination of ground water.
Waste  is deposited in different cells and covered
daily with soil. Sanitary landfills often have
environmental monitoring systems to track per-
formance and collect leachate and mefhane
gas. Some landfills are specially designed to
handle hazardous waste.
Solid waste—see municipal solid wasfe.
Source reduction (also known as waste preven-
tion)—any change in the design, manufacture,
purchase, or use of materials or products
(including packaging) to reduce their amount or
toxicity before they become municipal solid
waste.  Source reduction also refers to the reuse
of products or materials.
Sustainabilily—social and environmental practices
that protect and enhance the human and natural
resources needed by future generations to enjoy
a quality of life equal to or greater than our own.
Thermophilic—"heat loving," or surviving well in
high temperatures. In the composting process,
heat-loving microorganisms break down food
scraps and yard trimmings  into a crumbly, soil-
like substance.
Tipping fee—a fee assessed for waste disposal
in a  sanitary landfill, waste-to-energy plant, or
composting facility for a given amount of waste,
usually in dollars  per ton.  Fees are established
based on disposal facility costs and the amount
disposed of at the facility.
Toxic—containing compounds that pose a
substantial threat  to human health and/or the
Unit-based pricing/PAYT (Pay-As-You-Throw)—a
system in which residents pay for municipal solid
waste management services per unit of waste
(by weight or volume) collected rather than
through a fixed fee. Residents, for example,
might purchase a sticker to place  on each bag
of waste set out at the curb—the price of the
sticker covers the solid waste management serv-
ice costs for the volume of the bag.
Vermicomposting/vermiculture—a method of
composting using a special kind of earthworm
known as a red wiggler (E/sen/a fef/da), which
eats its weight in organic matter each day. Over
time, the organic material is replaced with worm
castings, a  rich brown matter that is an excellent
natural plant food.
Virgin materials—previously unprocessed mate-
rials. A tree that is cut into lumber to make
pallets is an example of a virgin material.
Lumber recovered from broken  pallets to make
new pallets is not a  virgin material but a recy-
c/ab/e material.
The Quest for Less
                                Glossary of Terms

Virgin resources—raw materials that must be
mined or captured from the Earth for use in the
creation of products or energy.
Waste—see municipal solid waste.
Waste management—administration of activities
that provide for the collection, source separa-
tion, storage, transportation, transfer,
processing, treatment, and disposal of waste. .
Waste management hierarchy—the preferred
way to manage solid waste is to first practice
source reduction, then recycle and composf,
and finally to combust waste at a  \vasfe-to-
energy facility or place it in a sanitary landfill.
Waste minimization—includes reducing waste
before it'is even generated (see source
reduction) and environmentally sound recycling.
Often  used in relation to hazardous waste.
Waste prevention—see source reduction.
Waste-to-energy—a process in which waste is
brought to a facility and burned to generate
steam  or electricity.
Waste-to-energy facilities—specially designed
waste management facilities where waste is
burned to create energy, which is captured for
use in generating electricity.
Waste stream—the total flow of solid waste gen-
erated from homes, businesses, and institutions
that must be recycled, incinerated,  or disposed
of in landfills.
Windrow—large, elongated  pile oi yard trim-
mings or other organic materials used in the
composting process, typically turned by a
machine. Municipal composting programs often
use windrows for large-scale composting of yard

Yard trimmings—grcss, leaves, tree branches,
brush, tree stumps, and other compostable
organic materials that are generated by homes,
schools, or businesses.
Glossary of Terms
                               The Quest for Less  -


           Note: This resource uses the following definitions for the skills indicated in each activity.
           Communication—writing or.verbally expressing
           coherent and creative thoughts and opinions;
           interacting with other students to accomplish a
           common goal.
           Computation—adding, subtracting, multiplying,
           dividing, or grouping numbers; recognizing and
           describing numerical patterns or symmetry;
           developing skills of estimation and judgement;
           using variables or equations to express relation-
           ships; developing charts, graphs, or tables to
           represent numerical data; giving directions or
           explaining ideas or concepts to others.
           Motor Skills—hands-on activities such as cut-
           ting, pasting, coloring, or drawing;  physical
           activities such as  running, or, throwing and han-
           dling objects.
           Observation/Classification—identifying certain
           physical properties  or abstract qualities of
                                                 objects or concepts; understanding objects or
                                                 concepts according to physical or abstract simi-
                                                 larities or differences.
                                                 Problem Solving—using prior knowledge to con-
                                                 struct or anticipate meaning; generating and
                                                 answering who, what, when, where, why ques-
                                                 tions; using data,  tools, or resources to obtain
                                                 information; interpreting data to explain out-
                                                 comes or to predict outcomes.
                                                 Reading—reading or listening to a story, essay,
                                                 dissertation, or speech; being able to compre-
                                                 hend, remember, and respond to questions; and
                                                 following directions.
                                                 Research—using outside sources to obtain data;
                                                 recording accurate data.
The Quest for Less
                                              s- GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 2010-361-593
Glossary of Skills