- Adapted from Recycling:
Activities for the Classroom, by Mary Bowman and Herbert Coon,
ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Math, & Environmental Education,
Ohio State University
to Trash Goes To School
- GRADE LEVELS: 7-8
- SUBJECT AREAS: social studies
Individual citizens should be stimulated to become well informed
about recycling developments, problems, management procedures,
and ecological principles.
To investigate solutions for a problem in your community.
chalk board to record solutions
Give your students the following information to demonstrate
one solution to an environmental problem.
- Aluminum was first made available in
abundance at economical prices in the early years of this century.
Today over 5,000,000 tons are produced each year to be used in
- Naturally, with a metal that is this
widely used in products, some of these are discarded to become
part of our solid waste each year. Aluminum lasts so well that
actually less than 1% of all solid waste is aluminum. But with
400 trillion pounds of solid waste and garbage each year, the
disposal problem is a real one that has not yet been solved in
the United States.
- More than 20% of the aluminum used
today was once in some other manufactured form. And that percentage
could grow with more people getting interested in recycling.
- Here is how recycling works: collected
soda cans, for example, are brought to one of the hundreds of
aluminum reclamation centers or to independent scrap dealers
who pay for them according to weight. Then this scrap is shredded,
put together in large bundles and sent off to aluminum producers.
At the producer, the metal is melted and ready to be used again.
- Everyone benefits from recycling of
aluminum. The collecting group, like the scouts or school team,
earns money for its own use or for community service. The landscape
is made more attractive by eliminating litter. There is less
solid waste to dispose of, and therefore, less polluting of the
environment. And, a valuable natural resource has been conserved
by reusing it in products that people want and need. Recycling
of aluminum saves 95% of the energy that would be needed to make
new metal from ore.
- PROCEDURE: Now
ask your students to think of a solid waste problem in their
community and to devise some possible solutions. Students generally
have less inhibited ideas than adults and often come up with
very creative solutions.
- 1. How can we recycle other products
as successfully as aluminum?
- 2. Brainstorm about laws, deposits,
environmental and economic incentives to encourage people to
participate in solid waste solutions.
- 3. What can we do to make recycling
of plastics, batteries, tires, paper, organic materials, and
others more successful?
- 4. Remember if you come up with good
ideas, talk to your recycling department about them.
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