Throw-Away Society
(Adapted from Wrap Sessions: Town of Islip Recycling Curriculum, Department of Environmental Control, Town of Islip, NY)


SUBJECT AREAS: social studies

CONCEPT: To think about garbage disposal and the amount that we produce.

OBJECTIVE: To increase awareness about solid waste and how it relates to each of us.

MATERIALS: handout: Throw-Away-Society

KEYWORDS: recycle, biodegrade, reduce, refuse

PROCEDURE: Ask students to fill out the questionnaire on the next pages. Discuss answers and the effects on the environment.

Answers: 1-C, 2-B, 3-B, 4-C, 5-B, 6-C, 7-C, 8-C, 9-A, 10-D, 11-B


1. Produce a bulletin board or display the results of the information on the questionnaire.

2. Write a report or fact sheet using this information.

3. Take it home and share with the family.


Do you know what the term "THROW-AWAY-SOCIETY" means? The questions below will help you realize just how much we are throwing away. See how much you know about our "throw-away-society."

1) How much garbage do you think a typical American family of four is responsible for in one week? (This includes our individual share of commercial waste.)
a. about 20 pounds
b. 50 pounds
c. 80-150 pounds
d. 250 pounds
2) How much garbage is that for each person for one day?
a. 1 pound
b. 3-4 pounds
c. over 10 pounds
d. 22 pounds
3) What fraction of our garbage is paper?
a. 1/10
b. 1/3
c. 1/2
d. 3/4
4) How many pounds of glass do you think you use in one year?
a. 50 pounds
b. 50 pounds
c. 500 pounds
d. 1000 pounds
5) What does RECYCLE mean?
a. to burn
b. to make into
c. to break down
d. to throw away new product
6) What does BIODEGRADABLE mean?
a. burn
b. use again
c. break down or rot
d. throw away
7) How much paper does a family of four throw away in a week?
a. 20 pounds
b. 6 pounds
c. 10 pounds
d. 60 pounds
8) How much food (scraps) does a family of four throw away in a week?
a. 50-60 pounds
b. 5-10 pounds
c. 10-15 pounds
d. 25-30 pounds
9) Look carefully at this list:
7 million cars
7 million TV sets
62 billion cans
43 billion bottles
65 billion tops (to cans and bottles)
70 million tons of paper
The list is probably...
a. what your country will discard in one year
b. what your town will discard in one year
c. what your school will discard in one year
d. what your family will discard in one year
10) Which of the following materials found in your garbage, can be recycled or composted?
a. paper
b. food
c. metal
d. all of these
11) Which of these is NOT toxic (poisonous)?
a. nail polish remover
b. vinegar
c. furniture polish
d. weed killer
e. insect spray

Back to Solid Waste Activities Grades 4-6

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