Resources for PreK-8 Activity 37 – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By taking a look at their own trash, your students will learn a lot about how and why they throw things away. Students will also conduct a service-learning project, and in doing so find ways to cut down on the waste they produce and improve how waste is managed in their community.

This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity. 

RECOMMENDED READING

Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals while building upon concepts learned in this activity with the following children’s book recommendations:

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:

  • 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.

  • Education in Nature

    Visit the Educator Center, part of Georgia-Pacific’s Education in Nature program, for lesson plans, brochures, videos and activities on an assortment of environmental topics and nature subjects for students in grades 2–5. Search the subject areas for natural resources, energy, and paper recycling to find supplemental information and teaching ideas for PLT activities.

  • 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.

  • 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 International

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

  • ThinkGreen

    Sponsored by Waste Management and Discovery Education, this website contains k-12 lessons, videos and interactive tools to help students rethink what they know about waste. The site also provides downloadable posters promoting recycling ideas.

  • US EPA Wastes Website

    US EPA Wastes Website is divided into four sections – What You Can Do, Resource Conservation, Hazardous Waste, and Nonhazardous Waste – this EPA website contains information to spark classroom conversations about waste.  For example, What You Can Do has categorized resources to help consumers generate less waste in the home, in the community, at the office, in industry, and at the store.  In Your Home tells how to make environmentally friendly choices at home by “green scaping” yards and gardens and properly discarding household medical waste, electronics, used motor oil, and more.

  • 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.

  • EPA Tools

    EPA tools let computer users “see” air quality information on a virtual globe:

  • 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.

  • Check Your School’s Climate Impact

    High school students can investigate the link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and everyday actions at their high school. Using EPA’s Climate Change Emission Calculator Kit (Climate CHECK) students can learn about climate change, estimate their school’s greenhouse gas emissions and conceptualize ways to mitigate their school’s climate impact.  Students gain understandings of climate-change drivers, impacts, and science; produce an emission inventory and action plan, and can even submit the results of their emission inventory to their school district. You can compare the energy use of your school with other schools nationwide, and earn the ENERGY STAR for your school if it qualifies as a top performer.

  • 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.

  • Wind Power Information

    At www.windturbines.net , visitors can join a community of wind energy professionals and access facts, maps, information, videos, and news stories about the use of wind technology worldwide.  Check out this popular video, which describes a propeller-free turbine design that can be used in residential homes

  • Energy Quest

    Energy Quest is an effort by the California Energy Commission to provide resources to teachers and students all about energy: its different forms, how it is generated, its sources and how to protect and conserve it. The Energy Quest website is arranged in easy-to-use tabs that lead to a rich, comprehensive supply of teaching material. The website’s interactive interface is useful and educational to both teachers and students alike.

  • 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.