Trash Trivia Game
Adapted from "Recycling: Mining Resources From Trash" (1991)
Cornell Waste Management
Back to Trash Goes To School

SUBJECT AREAS: social studies, science
CONCEPT: How much garbage do we generate, and what are the benefits of recycling?
OBJECTIVE: To learn facts and figures about recycling and solid waste disposal.
handout: Trash Trivia Game Cards
score sheets
pencil or pen
KEYWORDS: recycling, natural resources, solid waste
1. Divide into two to four teams of three to four members.
2. A member from one team picks a card. The team has 30 seconds to answer the trivia question.
3. If team members answer correctly, they take another turn. If not, the other team takes a turn.
4. Each team gets one point for each correct answer.

Trash Trivia Game
(Correct answers are in bold).
Which country has 6% of the world's population and produces half of the world's garbage?
A. The Soviet Union
B. China
C. The United States
How many trees must be cut to provide paper for one edition of the Sunday New York Times?
A. 62
B. 628
C. 75,000
How many trees are saved when one ton of paper is recycled?
A. 5
B. 17
C. 100
How many tons of dangerous waste are produced by American industries each year?
A. 3 thousand
B. 1 million
C. 250 million
What percentage of landfills in the United States were closed between 1984 and 1988?
A. 30%
B. 5%
C. 50%
What is New York's largest export?
A. food
B. waste paper
C. shoes
How many pounds of glass does each person in the United States use each year?
A. 100
B. 10
C. 50
How much of Japan's waste stream was recycled in one very effective program?
A. 30%
B. 50%
C. 80%
When you buy $11.00 of groceries, how much of that money pays for the product packaging?
A. 10 cents
B. $1.00
C. $5.00
What percentage of our garbage is plant matter and can be composted?
A. 25-30
B. 80
C. 3
By what year should all communities in New York State have started mandatory recycling programs?
A. 1980
B. 1992
C. 2000
How many tons of solid waste does New York State produce in one day?
A. 270
B. 2700
C. 27,000
Should we put all our waste in a landfill?
A. Yes. Out of sight, out of mind.
B. No. Everyone should dig a hole in his or her backyard.
C. No! Fewer and fewer communities are allowing landfills to be built. Land is in demand for housing and recreational use. Many communities are concerned about groundwater pollution, which can seep from a landfill site.
Name something that is made from recycled glass.
Bottles, bricks, construction materials, road-building materials, fiber glass insulation
In how many weeks is the average aluminum can remelted and back on the supermarket shelves?
A. 2
B. 30
C. 6
Why should you recycle your glass and metal containers?
Much less energy (work) is used to make a bottle or can from recycled materials than from raw materials. Glass is originally made from sand and aluminum cans are made from mineral ore.
How much can you pay for packaging when you buy a product?
A. Up to half the total cost
B. 75% of the total cost
C. 3% of the total cost
What percentage of trash is made up of discarded packaging wastes?
A. 70%
B. 30-40%
C. 5%
Which requires less energy: producing aluminum cans from recycled aluminum instead of from bauxite ore?
A. Both ways use the same amount of energy.
B. Recycling uses more energy than mining ore.
C. 90-95% less energy is used when aluminum cans are recycled.
How many tons of solid waste does the world currently produce each year?
A. 7
B. 1000
C. 1/2-1 billion
How many pounds of solid waste per person in the United States are put in landfills each year?
A. 1500
B. 100
C. 500
How many tons of paper that could be recycled does the U.S. throw away each year?
A. 40 million
B. 1 million
C. 1 billion
Name an item that could be reused but is normally thrown away.
Yogurt container, styrofoam package, plastic bag, rubber tire, coffee can, glass bottle
If you can buy a can of soda pop, what should you do with the can after you have finished the soda?
A. Crumple it up and throw it on the ground. It will rot in a while.
B. Throw it in a trash can with other paper wrappers and garbage.
C. Put it with other cans to be recycled, or return it for the deposit.
What two things should you keep out of your compost?
A. apple cores
B. eggshells
C. aluminum cans
D. meat scraps
From what natural resource is new paper made?
A. grass
B. trees
C. stones
What creature is not supposed to be in your compost pile?
A. a worm
B. a mouse
C. a spider
Where is compost naturally found?
A. in the air
B. in the soil
C. under your bed
Why shouldn't we dump our wastes in the ocean?
A. Garbage will break down faster if it is put in a landfill.
B. Waste pollutes the ocean and harms animals and plants that live there.
C. It makes tidal waves.
What can you do with the compost you make from your kitchen and yard wastes?
A. Send it to a landfill.
B. Use it to enrich the soil in your garden.
C. Feed it to your dog.
If we recycle the aluminum trash that Americans throw away every three months, we could:
A. Rebuild the entire U.S. airline fleet.
B. Save a lot of energy.
C. Conserve valuable resources.
{all three answers correct}
If we recycle we:
A. Won't need any more landfills or incinerators.
B. Can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and incinerators by 25- 50%.
C. Don't need any other disposal methods.
A. Doesn't produce any pollution.
B. Often costs money.
C. Causes lots of pollution.
A. Can solve all our solid waste problems.
B. Serves as part of the solid waste solution in some communities.
C. Only has negative environmental effects.
How can we send less green waste to landfills?
A. Composting in our backyards.
B. Changing our yard management practices, for example leaving grass clippings on the lawn.
C. Teaching our neighbors to compost.
{all three answers correct}
What can we do with wastes that can't be composted or recycled?
A. Dump them on the roadside.
B. Burn them in an incinerator.
C. Bury them in a landfill.
Back to top