Activity Overview: One of the ways to reduce overall landfill waste, is to remove materials from the waste stream by recycling. Knowing what to recycle is the first step to more sustainable consumption.
Time: 30 mins to 1 hour OR send the activity home overnight and discuss the next day
You could consider running this activity in the classroom or outside on the grounds. However, this activity relies on students' ability to roam freely (within reason) so consider arranging an outdoor activity when your students may be less distracting to others.
As a group, review the different categories of things that are recycled. This differs by region and municipality, so you may consider looking up what your school recycles, or you can hunt for all recyclable materials.
Batteries and Bulbs
Some of the materials you and your students will find in your classroom, some at home, and some you and your students will not find at all.
For younger students, it may be easier to work in groups and to try to find things by picture. Search for pictures of office paper, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and other items and project them in your classroom. You can also print out or project the attached worksheets, which contain pictures of recyclable materials.
Now that your class has collected recyclable material, it is time to organize it into different categories. First, ask individuals or groups to organize their materials by color, by size, by hardness, or by any other categories that you want to explore with your class. What qualities do your students notice about different materials? What qualities are different?
Then list the different recycling categories above for your students. Work with your students to put the materials into the different categories. How do these materials fit into the different categories?
Each material is recycled differently, and some materials are not recycled in every jurisdiction. Separating materials into their appropriate recycling categories is the first step to managing a waste stream more responsibly.