Glossary - Grades K-6

Back to Trash Goes to School

ALUMINUM: A lightweight, nonrustable metal, commonly used to make soda cans, airplane bodies, and frames for lawn chairs.

BIODEGRADABLE: Able to be broken down by microorganisms into simpler forms.

BRAINSTORMING: Attempting to solve a problem by having members of a group spontaneously propose ideas and solutions.

COMMUNITY: A group of people living in the same place and sharing the same government.

COMPOST: A rich, soil-like mixture that is produced when organic materials, such as yard, garden, and kitchen wastes, break down.

COMPOSTABLE: Able to biodegrade, or break down when exposed to microorganisms under the right environmental conditions.

CONSERVATION: The wise use of natural resources, to minimize their loss and waste.

CORRUGATED: Cardboard made up of several layers, including a middle layer that is bent into a series of ridges and grooves with air spaces in between.

DECOMPOSE: To rot, or break down.

DEGRADE: To break down into simpler chemical forms.

DISPOSABLE: Meant to be thrown away after a single use or a few uses, rather than to be saved and reused many times.

DURABLE: Made to last for a long time.

ECOSYSTEM: A system made up of a community of living things together with their environment.

ESSENTIAL: Necessary.

GARBAGE: Solid waste or trash (anything that we throw away).

GLASS: A material made by melting silica.

INCINERATOR: A furnace or other unit used for burning waste.

INDUSTRIALIST: A person who owns or manages an industry.

LANDFILL: A place where unwanted materials are dumped, compacted, and covered with dirt.

LEACHATE: Water that percolates through a dump or landfill, picking up pollutants along the way.

LITTER: Waste materials carelessly discarded in an inappropriate place. Littering is against the law.

MICROORGANISMS: Tiny living things that can be seen through a microscope.

NATURAL RESOURCES: Things in the world around you, such as trees, water, animals, and soil, which are used to make products.

NUTRIENTS: Chemicals used as food.

OIL: A substance made by prehistoric decay of organic matter, and currently used to produce many products, including fuels and plastics.

PACKAGING: Ways of wrapping products to protect, advertise, or make them convenient for sale.

PAPER: A thin material made from pulp from wood, old paper, or rags.

PHOTODEGRADATION: The process of breaking down through exposure to sunlight.

POLLUTION: In our environment, the condition of being dirty, especially as a result of wastes.

PRECYCLING: Reducing the amount of waste generated by avoiding disposables and overpackaged articles.

PRODUCT: Something that is sold.

PROPAGATION: Producing new plants from seeds, leaves, spores, or other plant parts.

PROPERTIES: Characteristics.

RECYCLABLE: Able to be used instead of raw materials to make a new product.

RECYCLE: To make materials such as glass, aluminum, paper, steel, and plastic into new products.

REDUCE: To decrease the amount of trash we produce by buying only what we need, avoiding disposables, and buying products that are not overpackaged.

REFUSE: Trash, rubbish, anything thrown away.

RENEWABLE Resources: Something we use from nature that can be replenished. For example, trees are a renewable resource; a tree can be planted to take the place of one that has been cut down. Oil is not a renewable resource; it takes millions of years for oil to form.

REUSE: To extend the life of an item by using it again, repairing it, or creating new uses for it.

SANITARY LANDFILL: A place for disposing of garbage where it is covered each day with soil in order to reduce odors and pest problems. Modern sanitary landfills also have systems for collecting and treating leachate, the polluted water that drains out from the landfill.

SOLID WASTE: The things we throw away: household trash, yard and kitchen wastes, old machinery and equipment, and many agricultural and industrial wastes.

TOXIC: Able to cause injury or illness through chemical means.

UNINHABITABLE: Unable to support life.

WASTELAND: Desolate land, unable to support life.

WATER: A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid, made of hydrogen and oxygen, that is essential for most plant and animal life.

WATER CYCLE: The process by which water circulates on earth, through precipitation (rain or snowfall), runoff, use by plants and animals, percolation to groundwater, and evaporation.