Reducing Solid Waste for a Healthier Tomorrow – Students

Dear Students,

When humans started settling into villages, towns, and cities, our ancestors discovered how big a problem solid waste (garbage) could be.  Now, with so much of what we use designed to be disposable or quickly replaced with the newest version, our solid waste problem keeps growing.  Over time, we have developed many different ways of dealing with our trash, but we have yet to discover a perfect way of managing ever-increasing amounts of garbage.  As populations around the globe keep growing, communities have adapted to their solid waste situations.  Unfortunately, for many this has led to unhealthy environments and poor human health.garbage-landfill-100522-sw

As we think about the huge amount of solid waste we create, it is also important to consider all the materials going into the products, packaging, food, etc. that end up as waste.  The resources to make these goods are limited. The best way to conserve our resources and minimize the problems associated with solid waste is to reduce our consumption and therefore our waste.  This is the theme of the Reducing Solid Waste for a Healthier Tomorrow Module. 

In this module, you will have the chance to explore the problems of solid waste at home and around the world and compare strategies for managing our garbage.  Ultimately, you will think of ways you can make changes in your own life to minimize the waste you leave behind.  Understanding the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – plus compost will be very important as you think about solutions to solid waste problems.       

You will participate in a Waste Reduction Summit with the rest of your classmates to share ideas about how waste can be reduced.  In a group, you will research and become  ‘experts’ on a topic related to solid waste.  Using your research to make your conclusions and recommendations, you will then present your topic to the rest of the Summit audience.  Have fun learning about this interesting, if smelly, issue!


Theresa Springer 
Environmental Education Coordinator     

Coalition for the Upper South Platte

By completing this module, students will be able to:
(1) Evaluate explicit and implicit viewpoints, values, attitudes, and assumptions concealed in speech, writing, and illustration 
(2) Articulate the position of self and others using experiential and material logic
(3) Gather information from a variety of sources; analyze and evaluate the quality and relevance of the source; and use it to answer complex questions
(4) Collaborate effectively as group members or leaders who listen actively and respectfully pose thoughtful questions, acknowledge the ideas of others, and contribute ideas to further the group’s attainment of an objective
(5) Understand solid waste management is a global problem that can only be solved if individuals take action in their own lives and in their own communities 
Student Objectives & State Standards

Background Information
History of Trash Presentation
Intro to Trash – Background Reading

Trash in Developing Countries
Trash in Developing Countries Instructions
Egypt Presentation
Philippines Presentation
Brazil Presentation 

China: Solid Waste and Reform
China: Solid Waste and Reform Instructions
China: Solid Waste and Reform Presentation

E-Waste Instructions
E-Waste Presentation

Landfills Instructions
What is a Landfill? Presentation
The Ghosts of Landfills Past Presentation

Landfill Gas
Landfill Gas Instructions
Landfill Gas Presentation
Methane Videos List 

Solid Waste Incineration 
Solid Waste Incineration Instructions
Solid Waste Incineration Presentation

Single Stream Recycling 
Single Stream Recycling Instructions 
Single Stream Recycling Presentation

Additional Resources

Energy Justice Network – Primer on Landfill Gas as Green Energy:

Environmentalists Every Day. America’s Solid Waste Industry – History of Solid Waste Management:

Environmental Protection Agency – Basic Facts About Waste: 

Environmental Protection Agency – Methane: 

Environmental Protection Agency – Methane Capture and Use: 

Environmental Protection Agency – WasteWise Program:

Evergreen Waste Services – Teaching Children How to be Green:

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (Gaia) – Myths vs. Facts about Waste to Energy:

Huffington Post – India’s Waste-to-Energy Plan Could Mean Bad News for Trash Pickers:

Johnson State College, Vermont – Solid Waste Production:  

National Geographic – High-Tech Trash:

New York Times – Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. lags:

Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority – Kids Learn about Garbage:

Squidoo – E-waste: What is it and what do you do with it?

The Economist – Rubbish Map:

UPI – EU activates new e-waste recycling rules:  

US Geological Survey – Arsenic:

Waste Incineration: – Waste Incineration: Positive and Negative Aspects: 

Window on State Government, Texas – Landfill Gas:

World Bank – What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management:

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