Investigate Your Community
Adapted from Woodsy's Wastewise, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Broome County
Back to Trash Goes to School

SUBJECT AREAS: social studies, English, government
CONCEPT: Students can get involved in their community.
OBJECTIVE: To practice research skills and gain access information in your local community.
- Pen
- Paper
- Telephone
- Brochures on topic (if available)
KEYWORDS: community
BACKGROUND: In this exercise students will collect data on recycling and solid waste in their local community. To get this information it may be necessary to contact the recycling coordinator, county government (Department of Public Works), and other educators in your county.
Find the answers to the following questions:
1. What is the population in your county?
2. How many townships or municipalities are there?
3. How much garbage is produced?
[While the national average is 3.5 pounds per day, New York State residents produce about 6 pounds per day.]
4. How is garbage disposed of? Possibilities include putting it in a landfill, recycling, waste-to-energy, composting, and shipping to other places.

5. How much does it cost per ton to dispose of waste per ton? This may include:
a. tipping fees (cost per ton to dispose of garbage at the landfill or waste-to-energy plant)
b. cost per household if using a public or private hauler, including collection and transportation
c. cost per ton if your county ships garbage to a location outside the county
6. Is there a recycling and/or composting program in your area?
a. Is it run by a public or private organization?
b. How can citizens participate in the program?
c. What types of resources are being recycled?
d. How much is being recycled?
7. Compile this information into a fact sheet, write articles for the school or local newspaper, or in any way possible share it with your school, family, community, church, and other groups.
8. You may want to do this exercise once or twice each year to record the changes that have occurred.
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