Managing Solid Waste

This Managing Solid Waste lesson plan also includes:

When Earth Day rolls around, a lot of kids ask why recycling is so important. Middle schoolers find out their own answers by examining 10 ordinary household items, working in a group to estimate how long it would take for each to break down in a landfill, then comparing their estimates to the actual decomposition time. Next, kids examine each of the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle — and think about what they could do to minimize their contributions to the local landfill. Finally, each child writes a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about the issue of landfills, which must include certain vocabulary words that have been emphasized throughout the lesson.

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Additional Tags


  • Multi-modal approach to the issue of waste, including higher-level thinking activities
  • Using the local landfill's information makes the learning very relevant
  • Having learners write a letter to the editor prepares them for social action and shows that, even as middle schoolers, they can have a say in local issues

  • Created for Tucson, AZ, so if you are located anywhere else, you will need to adapt this to represent your local landfill