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Waste Eco-Audit

Theme: 
Waste
Grade: 
11, 12
Essential questions
What does it mean to say that there is no such thing as “away”?
Why is e-waste such a big concern?
What is compost, and how can we encourage society to compost more?
What steps has your family taken or could your family take to better manage its waste?
What could students, administrators, staff, teachers, and the community at large do to make waste management practices on campus more sustainable?
Do you think students conducting a waste eco-audit can truly help improve the school?
What skills and information can be learned from an eco-audit? Is it a valuable educational experience?
What recommendations do you have for making waste management on campus more sustainable?
To whom do you want to make those recommendations?
What strategies will you use to communicate your messages?
How can you work with other groups to strengthen your message?
What has the eco-audit taught you about leadership and citizenship?

MODULE OVERVIEW: Estimated total time needed: 11 class periods
This module contains the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-Action: School Waste Eco-Audit: Exploring (Estimated time needed: Three 50–55-minute class periods)
This lesson begins with an introduction to green schools and a discussion about the value of a campus waste eco-audit. Then students launch an investigation into how waste is generated at the school. They work in groups to survey how much traditional waste is generated on campus as well as to survey the amounts of various types of recyclables, compost, and e-waste generated at the school.

Lesson 2: Eco-Action: School Waste Eco-Audit: Analyzing (Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute class periods)
In this lesson, students use the data they gathered in Lesson 1 to note trends in the way waste is produced on campus. They do research and interview campus personnel to find answers to questions and address gaps in their data. Then they analyze the data they’ve gathered, reflect on its importance, and begin considering ideas for improving waste management on campus.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: School Waste Eco-Audit: Wrapping Up (Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute class periods)
In this lesson, students synthesize their data and ideas from Lesson 2. They share their results with the class and evaluate the effectiveness of the eco-audit. Students then strategize as a class and in small groups to plan how to recommend progressive changes to more effectively manage waste resources on campus.

Lesson 4: Eco-Action: Waste Data Is Beautiful! (Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute class periods)
In this lesson, students learn how to communicate their campus waste management recommendations to administrators, the student body, and beyond. They learn strategies for presenting data in interesting, relevant, and visually appealing ways, such as through infographics. Then students take the information they collected and analyzed in Lessons 1–3 and create a plan for communicating their recommendations to campus administrators, parents, students, and others. Finally, students execute their plans by writing letters to administrators, creating a showcase presentation of their findings, writing and performing in public service announcements, and implementing concrete student action plans.

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