The Throwaway Three: A Skit
(Adapted from Let's Recycle Lesson Plans for Grades K-6 and 7-12, US EPA)
Trash Goes To School
Cornell Waste Management Institute

SUBJECT AREAS: social studies
CONCEPT: There is no such thing as throwing "away" our trash.
OBJECTIVE: To inspire students to think about how much waste we produce and how we dispose of it.
MATERIALS: see list of props (listed in the skit)
KEYWORDS: industrialist, refuse
PROCEDURE: This skit presents the growing amount of trash in the world. As the skit progresses, each player throws more trash on the pile in the middle of the room so that a high stack is created. Someone suggests one way to solve the problem is to recycle. A discussion of ways to solve the problem of too much garbage and trash might follow the performance (see Discussion Notes, below).

Click here for Skit. PDF format


The skit shows the children that people have historically gotten rid of solid waste successfully by throwing it out, burying it, or burning it, but none of these methods solve modern urban garbage problems. The discussion should attempt to reinforce this concept. One way this can be done is to discuss the characters in the skit: how they disposed of their garbage and why their methods of doing so were either satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
Our solid waste disposal options include reducing, reusing, recycling, composting, incinerating, and landfilling. None of these options can stand alone. We must look at individual regions or communities and decide what are the best solutions for each. Any place we live, we can reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost. It is important to do these things to conserve our natural resources and become a wise user. Incineration may be important in areas where there is a severe space problem or where other options don't exist. It has a place in some solid waste plans because it produces energy and reduces the volume of garbage. Landfilling will always be needed but maybe not in every community. We continue to produce items that are not or cannot be disposed of in other ways.
Monkey: Threw garbage down. No problem developed because no large concentration of monkeys existed and the garbage disintegrated.
Cave dweller: Threw it. Tossing out garbage began to be a problem because of the many people who lived in cities, but it was easily solved by taking the garbage out of the city.
Briton: Threw it. A problem grew because more and more people moved to the cities, thus producing more trash than they could get rid of in the city.
Settler: Had very little garbage, mostly decomposable.
Colonist: Threw it, burned, buried it. Greater trade resulted when people did not use goods until they wore out, but then more things to be discarded began to accumulate.
Industrialist: With a greater concentration of people in the cities than ever before and more buying because machine-made goods were cheaper, much more was thrown out.
Scientist: The big change to synthetics plus the use of enormous amount of natural resources are causing tremendous trash problems.
Look at your own community's waste or your classroom waste to see what disposal options you can take advantage of. Discuss the idea that we can't "throw away" our trash; there is simply no such place as "away." Care is always required to prevent our trash from having bad effects on our lives. We are literally running out of some natural resources so that any form of disposal of certain goods is self-defeating.
Questions to discuss:

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