Just Throw It Away!
(Adapted from material created for National Science & Technology Week, April 22-28, 1990)


SUBJECT AREAS: art & science

CONCEPT: If we reuse objects rather than buying new ones, we generate less garbage.

OBJECTIVE: To use waste to benefit wildlife. (NOTE: Though we can make things from some waste products, we will still need to consider whether we need it in the first place.)

trash from home (plastic bottle, milk carton, aluminum pie plate, paper towel roll)
-craft items (glue, scissors, tape, paint, string, wire or coat hangers)


BACKGROUND: There is no place on earth called "away". Things we think we throw away have to go somewhere, and these things end up in the soil, air, streams, and oceans. When people reuse or recycle paper, aluminum cans, glass jars, and other trash, they cut down on the amount of solid waste they throw away.

1. Ask the students to bring a piece of trash from home: a plastic bottle, a milk carton, an aluminum pie plate, a margarine container, or other reusable containers.

2. Set up a table to use as a project center. On it place: scissors, tape, glue, paper, string, paint, markers, nails, hammers, and other useful items for building with trash. Make sure to supply extra trash items for those students who need them.

3. Display a bird feeder that you have made from a piece of trash. For example, you can make a simple bird feeder by cutting large holes into the sides of a plastic milk jug, two inches up from the bottom. Glue a rock into the bottom of the jug to add weight, and attach a wire or string around the neck.

Instruct the students to design and build a bird feeder using their trash and items from the project center. Explain that the bird feeder needs to be hung from a branch, and that they must have both an opening big enough for a bird and a perch for the birds to sit on while eating.

4. Let the students display their completed feeders on a tree outside. Fill the feeder with food for the birds, and enjoy watching them use the feeder. NOTE: Once you begin feeding birds in the winter, you should continue to keep the feeder filled because the birds may become dependent on your food supply.

5. Remind the students that they have just done something important for the environment as well as for the birds. Instead of throwing their trash away, and adding it to the piles of garbage that trucks haul away, they have reused the trash. Just imagine, if every piece of trash was used a second time, we could cut the amount of solid waste we throw away in half!

FOLLOW-UP: Discuss what other items that could be reused (i.e. use of egg cartons, milk cartons, or other containers for starting seeds or building things like birdhouses, hummingbird feeders, or terrariums.

Back to Solid Waste Activities Grades K-3

Cornell Waste Management Institute ©1991
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Bradfield Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853