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Imagine Zero Waste

7, 8
Essential questions
What are some ways you can apply the zero-waste philosophy in your daily life?
What surprised you the most about your zero-waste initiative?
What actions would you recommend your school take to move from a traditional production/consumption cycle to a zero-waste production/consumption cycle?
Imagine that everyone in your community recycled and composted. How would that impact waste management for better and worse?
What do you think businesses, governments, and individuals could do to be more responsible about electronic wastes?
Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Humans should be responsible for the solid waste they produce and look for ways to deal with it safely, cost-effectively, and sustainably”?
Why should we care about soil and whether or not it is healthy?

MODULE OVERVIEW: Estimated total time needed: At least 4 class sessions

Lesson 1: Eco-Action: Zero-Waste Campaign (One 50-minute class, plus additional time for planning, launching, and assessing the value of the campaign. Students may choose a campaign that lasts one day, one week, one month, or longer.)
In this lesson, students examine how traditional thinking about waste management has created a global waste management crisis. Then they learn how a new way of thinking—zero-waste thinking—offers hope for the future. They review how the 5Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, rot, reflect) can help communities develop a zero-waste mindset. Finally, students are challenged to put what they’ve learned into practice by implementing a zero-waste initiative at the school.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Personal Waste Audit (30 minutes in first class period; 24-hour trash collection period; 50 minutes in second class period.)
In this lesson, students learn how much waste the average person produces and think about how their own daily waste production compares to that average. Then they spend 24 hours collecting all the (nonhazardous) wastes they personally generate. Next, students inventory and log their results and reflect on how their waste production compares to the global average. Students also make a list of the electronic items they own or have owned and consider their personal role in managing e-wastes responsibly.

Lesson 3: Eco-Activity: Soil with Soul (55 minutes)
In this lesson, students learn how the simple act of composting their plant-based wastes can help create a sustainable future in several vital ways. They take a microscopic look at a variety of soil samples to identify the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy soils. Along the way, they learn the value of topsoil, why it is threatened, and what they can do to help protect it.