Wise Use Of Paper
Adapted from A-Way With Waste: A Waste Management Curriculum for Schools, 2nd ed., by Dept of Ecology, State of Washington
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SUBJECT AREAS: social science, math
CONCEPT: Production and reduction of wastes.
OBJECTIVE: To make students, teacher, and school staff aware that they are the first links in the paper recycling process. They will understand that reusing and recycling paper is a way of conserving resources, protecting the environment, and reducing energy use.
MATERIALS: three boxes; scale
KEYWORDS: reduction
BACKGROUND: We use and throw away enormous amounts of paper. About 30%, by weight, of household waste is paper, making it the largest single component of household garbage. Annually, each person in the United States used 580 pounds of paper -- approximately 2 trees' worth. That adds up to 440 million trees a year used to make paper. Americans consume more paper / year / person than any other nation in the world. Paper products use about 35% of the world's annual commercial wood harvest, a share that will probably grow to 50% by the year 2000.
Some paper can be reused or recycled, thus saving money and natural resources. Each ton of paper that is recycled replaces and preserves 13-20 500-pound harvestable trees. Making paper from recycled paper uses 30 to 55% less energy than making paper directly from trees.
1. Have students collect, for a week, the classroom paper they would normally throw away in a week.
2. Weigh the paper. Divide the total by the number of students to see how much each student generated on average. Divide the collected discarded paper into two boxes:
a. paper we can still use
b. paper we have used completely
3. When practical, use paper from box "a" for classroom work and assignments.
4. Put this now fully-used paper into a third box and weigh it. How much paper was reused?
5. Discuss with students where paper comes from. Illustrate on the blackboard the paper process (e.g., trees -- logging -- truck transportation -- processing and production -- wholesale warehouse -- store -- you). Emphasize the use of energy at every step of this process.
Ask: What has happened to the cost of energy in the last five years?
Discuss the environmental effects of logging and paper production, the effects on streams, fish, air, and water quality.
6. Discuss what happens to paper when thrown away. What would be the result if the whole school used two sides of the paper instead of just one? Money saved? Amount of paper used? Pollution reduced? Energy conserved?
7. Referring to the fully used paper - Ask: Can this paper be recycled into new paper or cardboard? What things are made from recycled paper? (New paper, toilet paper, paper towels, building materials, and packaging such as cereal boxes.) How can you tell if something has been made from recycled paper? (Look for the recycling logo on the package. In the case of cereal boxes, if the cardboard is gray, it was most likely made from recycled paper.) Note: 80% of recycled paper is used in packaging.
Investigate other wastes that schools throw away and how these wastes might be reduced.
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