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  Waste Free Week Classroom Learning Earth Day, Any Day  


Classroom Learning    
Fun and easy classroom activities that get teachers involved in educating kids
about what it means to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Parents: Share these activities with your child’s teacher and ask how you can help to guide the activities in the classroom.

Reduce Ask the question, what does it mean to reduce waste. Help students to understand that reducing isn’t just about using less, it’s also about finding reusable alternatives to disposable items.

Classroom Activities

  • Ask students to bring into class one reusable item that replaces a disposable one. If needed, give examples, such as a real camera, versus a disposable one, cloth napkins versus paper, reusable containers versus plastic bags, a reusable water bottle versus a plastic one, etc.
  • With older classes, ask them to research information about how long it takes that disposable item to break down in a landfill to further the discussion around why we want to reduce waste on the planet.
  • Test their knowledge by giving them the “Waste Quiz"

Reuse Ask students how they can help to reuse other than using their own items over again. The answer is by giving something to someone else who can use it.

Classroom Activities

  • Ask students to bring in one thing that they reuse at home and one item, in good condition, that can be given away to someone else, such as cloths or toys.
  • Have a local consignment store owner come to the classroom to talk about the importance of reusing cloths, toys, books and other items.
  • Hold a book exchange where students bring in books they no longer read and allow every student to bring home a few books that others have brought in.

Recycle Define for students that recycling occurs when reusable materials are taken to places where they can be remade into either the same product or new products, rather than just tossed into the trash to be taken to landfills. Help them to understand that making new items from recycled ones also takes less energy and other resources than making products from brand new materials.

Classroom Activities

  • Have two bins, one for trash and one for recycling. Take your classroom trashcan and pick items out one by one, asking students to guess whether that item is trash or recycling. (Before hand, be sure you know the local rules around what can be recycled and what cannot in your town.)
  • Plan a field trip to your local recycling center.
  • Have students work in groups, some to create a map or diagram of what happens to their garbage once they throw it away and other groups to create a map or diagram of what happens to their recycling. This can be used as the basis for a discussion on the environmental impacts of waste disposal and local issues around landfills or recycling facilities.
  • Ask students if they know what happens to that plastic bottle after it’s recycled. Recycled plastic is everywhere. See if students can guess items made from recycled plastic. Fleece is recycled plastic bottles, so is a plastic baseball hat. Recycled plastic is also found in lots of toys, park benches, and even garbage cans.
  • Additional Curriculum ideas:
  • Math - Calculate the cost of various combinations of healthy lunch foods and/or do real-world cost comparisons of what a disposable lunch would cost compared to a waste-free lunch of the same items.
  • Language Arts – Create a presentation for younger classes on reduce, reuse, recycle and/or healthy waste-free lunches.
  • Art - Create posters encouraging students to pack healthy waste-free lunches and/or come up with unique ideas for recycle art sculptures, using recyclable products, that can be displayed around campus.
  • Social Studies – Consider each of the foods packed in a lunch:
    • Where is the food grown/processed?
    • Was there any pollution created in getting the products to you?
    • Where will the waste go?


Green Toolkit