Resources for Grades 6-8 Activity – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By examining trash, students can learn a lot about how and why they throw things away. Students find ways to reduce their community’s waste production and improve its management through participation in a service-learning project.

For the complete activity and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at Shop.PLT.org and/or attend a professional development training in your state.

Below are some supporting resources for this activity.

STUDENT PAGES

Download the copyright free student pages that are included with this activity:

Talking Trash: The Hype on Type (PDF)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:

  • Litterati

    The Litterati app and web dashboard captures litter data through geo-tagged photos. Students can collect, map, & visualize data about litter and engage in impactful activities to help keep your community clean and demonstrate your school’s impact.

  • Packaging Preferences in the US

    57% of consumers are actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging, according to the 2020 study U.S. Packaging Preferences 2020 released by Two Sides North America, Inc. Through this study, students can explore consumer preferences, perceptions and attitudes toward packaging materials. On top of that, find out about environmental labels on products for recycling or composting, and labels that meet certain environmental standards, such as forest certification standards.

  • 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge!

    Be Zero inspires, educates, and activates others to reduce their plastic and trash footprint for a sustainable future. Join the challenge with your students too! For example, one article on their blog called How to Pack a Zero Waste Kids Lunch highlights how one parent used a bento style stainless steel container called PlanetBox to easily pack their kids lunch and avoid using packaged foods.

  • Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About… Wind Power

    Developed as part of Energy.gov’s informational “Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About…” online series, Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wind Power presents facts and resources describing the growth, development, current status, and future potential of the wind power industry. Most appropriate for middle and high school levels (grades 5-12), the educational resources include diagrams showing how a wind turbine functions, as well as extensive wind maps from the US Department of Energy.

  • Guide to Responsible Green Camping

    Are you worried about children being more familiar with touch screens than with soil, plants, and bugs? It might be time to get the kiddos out camping. This online guide to responsible camping will get you prepared for a green camping trip, including how to pack, how to camp, responsible camping activities, and handy safety and eco tips.

  • Pack a Waste-Free Lunch

    Learn how to be waste-free! EPA developed these Waste-Free Lunch activities to help students learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle items in their school lunches. Included are tips for packing a waste-free lunch and a healthy lunch menu worksheet.

  • Think Green Infographic

    Produced by the EPA, this Think Green Infographic is a great way to get your students thinking through simple, thought-provoking questions – Do You Really Need It?, How “Green” Is It?, Can You Reuse It?, and Can You Buy It Used? The graphic provides tips and action steps middle and high schoolers can take to reduce their impact on the environment and promote conservation.

  • Where Does Our Trash Go?

    The lifecycle of garbage is illustrated through photos and simple captions from the Lawrence County Solid Waste Management District (IN).

  • Water Calculator

    The H2O Conserve Water Calculator is a short survey that will get you thinking about how much water you use, and how water connects to almost every aspect of your life. The Conserve Water Calculator compares individual daily water usage with the national average. It also provides suggestions of how to save more water using improved practices. Beyond the calculator, the site provides valuable educational materials and activities to engage students in water conservation issues.

  • U.S. Composting Council

    All types of composting from backyard to large-scale, community-wide composting are discussed by the U.S. Composting Council. Visit their Web site for a list of composting activities and resources.

  • US EPA Facts and Figures About Materials, Waste and Recycling

    US EPA Facts and Figures About Materials, Waste and Recycling website has information on municipal solid waste in the United States. The data includes information on energy recovery and landfills as well. 

  • My Garbology

    We toss items into the trash every day – about 4.4 pounds per person per day, on average. With garbology, the study of waste, students can learn about waste reduction and steps they can take to reduce the amount of trash on the planet. This website’s interactive interface allows students to learn about the recycling, reusing, composting, and disposing of several everyday items.

  • Earth from Space

    This Smithsonian Institution website provides students (and teachers!) access to views of conditions and events on earth that are nearly impossible to document from the Earth’s surface. The site proves interactive; explaining how satellite imagery is gathered and used to better understand the world around us.

  • Energy Lab

    This PBS NOVA series has launched the Energy Lab, where middle and high school students can design renewable energy systems for cities nationwide and compete with other students nationwide. Visit the Energy Lab website to design your own renewable energy system.

  • TeslaTown

    Designed for upper elementary and middle school students, a free iPad app teaches about electricity generation and delivery thorough visits to a solar-powered house, a hydroelectric power plant, and a wind farm. With clickable, interactive structures and informational graphics and photos, students discover what is meant by “the power grid.”

  • A Green Take on A Christmas Carol

    Earth Day Carol is a green retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In this version, Plastic Bottle Scrooge is visited by the ghosts Plastic Past, Plastic Present, and Plastic Future. You can download the free mobile app to convey the message of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” through animation, pop-up facts, and kid-friendly narration. Most appropriate for elementary and middle school students, this story can be a starting point for taking environmental action.

  • Plant for the Planet Video

    Inspired by Wangari Maathai, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded “Plant for the Planet” and has planted more than 500,000 trees in Germany which he says will help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Watch Felix’s video, part of the Young Voices on Climate Change series, to learn about his efforts to plant trees for a healthier world.

  • Invasive Paper Project

    The Invasive Paper Project travels throughout Detroit to offer papermaking demos and workshops with invasive plants (like Phragmites, Honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard) that have been removed from city parks, lots, and green spaces in many different communities. This project creates community awareness about invasive plant species and their effects on local ecosystems, while also providing an opportunity to think about invasive plant life differently. While eradication is important, projects like this one allow participants to experiment with new uses and products from otherwise unwanted raw materials. Consider turning your next papermaking activity into a service-learning project by using invasive species pulp instead of paper scraps!

  • Recycle City

    EPA’s Recycle City’s interactive website showcases an interactive map, scavenger hunt, and game that all explore ways homes and businesses can recycle, reuse, or reduce waste. Use this website to spark interesting discussions around waste and recycling in places and spaces where students can have direct impacts.