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The Effects of Trash and Garbage On the Environment

Bernadette M. Gilbert          Charles Kozminski Community Academy
                               936 E. 54th Street
                               Chicago, Illinois 60615
                              (312) 535-0980

Objectives:
                        
   To recognize the importance of solid waste management.
   To be able to identify the four "R's"; reuse, reduce, recycle and recover.
   To understand what a landfill is.
   To analyze individual solid waste management habits.
   To understand what is biodegradable and what is non-biodegradable.
   To understand why composting is a landfill alternative.
   To understand some of the associated pollution problems.
   To understand how incineration reduces waste and produces emission.
   To view the video tape "The Rotten Truth" provided by the Illinois Department 
      of Energy and Natural Resource in order to enhance individual knowledge of
      solid waste disposal and the recycling process.
   To view the video tape "The Resource Revolution" to learn more about the 
      recycling of plastics.
   To learn songs: "You're Really Making Me Sick" and "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"

Materials needed:
   
   Two 2 liter plastic pop bottles, netting or mesh fabric, rubber band, 
   classroom storage containers (will be decorated by students), plastic bags, 
   soil (dirt), vegetable or fruit scraps, grass, newspaper, plastic and other 
   garbage which will decompose in a landfill, video tape, "The Rotten Truth", 
   provided by the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resource, video 
   tape worksheets, video tape, "The Resource Revolution", guessing game 
   activity sheets, aluminum cans, glass bottles, paper napkins, fruit peel and 
   other "Clean" trash items as needed (avoid materials of organic origin),
   cassette player or tape recorder, television and VCR.     
                                    
Procedure:
    
   Learn the vocabulary and the categories of waste that occur daily.
   Questions--What is garbage?  Where does it go?
   Discuss landfills and problems that relate to the landfills.
   Introduce the concepts of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover.
   Set up a bulletin board divided into sections with the four "R's" categories 
     as headings.  Have students begin tacking up items appropriate to each 
     heading and have them explain why the items belong in that category.  Some 
     items may be appropriate to more than one category 
   Review video tape, "The Rotten Truth" and give a short quiz on information 
     from the video.
   Make your own Compost Column.  Observe and chart what happens over two to four 
     weeks.  Discuss the conditions of the various kinds of waste.  Discuss 
     biodegradability.  Compare the compost to real landfills.  From your 
     observations, discuss the potential environmental problems associated with 
     waste in landfills (leachate, contamination of water, smell, methane gas, 
     garbage truck traffic, litter, scavenging birds, loss of natural resources 
     and energy.) 
   Students will play a game of twenty questions.  Without letting the class see 
     what you are doing, put one of the trash objects in a brown paper bag.  
     Show the contents to one student then set the bag aside.  The class will 
     then begin asking questions to determine what is in the bag.  Some 
     suggested questions are: Do I come from the earth?  Am I made from a 
     renewable resource?  A nonrenewable resource?  Am I made by a person?  Am I 
     biodegradable?  Am I packaging?  Am I a container?  Do I contain food?  Am 
     I recyclable?  Am I compostable? 
   Separate, prepare and label different types of recyclable trash.
   Learn songs:  "You're Really Making Me Sick" and "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".
    
Evaluation:               
 
   Students should be able to tell the difference between natural and human made 
   materials, packaging and non-packaging items, animals, plants and minerals, 
   renewable and nonrenewable resources and be able to identify compostable and 
   recyclable materials. 
                              
Conclusion:                        
        
   As educators and consumers, we are entrusted with the job of teaching 
   children how to make intelligent decisions about solid waste.  These 
   decisions can begin in the schools and continue in the homes and stores.  The 
   solid waste dilemma will not go away.  Changing our way of disposing of trash 
   and garbage will help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. 
   Solving the solid waste disposal problem will take a major overhaul in our 
   lifestyle.  As consumers and educators, we can accept this challenge and help 
   educate our citizens for change. 

References:
      
   Solid Waste Activity Packet (for teachers) distributed by: Illinois 
   Department of Energy and Natural Resource in cooperation with the 
   Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Illinois, Champaign, 
   Illinois.  Summer, 1991 
    
   Cassette Songs: "You're Really Making Me Sick" and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" 
   The lyrics are by Dianna Dee Damkoehler and music and singing by Hans 
   Damkoehler.  Phone number for requesting an activity packet, video tape and 
   cassette tape is (217)785-0310 - No charge for rental. 

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