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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The Science of Recycling

Students should understand the significance of reducing waste, reusing, and recycling items to protect the environment. The following lesson plan can help you teach the science of recycling.

Lesson Objective

The lesson's main objective is to teach students about sustainability and reducing waste by recycling and reusing. The lesson also teaches about becoming responsible adults and the individual role each student has to play in creating a better living environment.

Other objectives of the lesson include:

  • Define the terms reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • State the importance of reducing, reducing, and recycling.
  • State different ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle.
  • Determine the difference between items we can reduce, reuse, or recycle.
  • Explain the effects of waste on the environment.
  • Students will learn their role in environmental conservation by reducing waste, reusing, or recycling.
  • Provide examples of simple ways to reduce or recycle and others of the effects of waste on the environment.

Lesson Prerequisites

Before the beginning of the lesson, students should already be familiar with:

  • The definition of the terms reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Understanding waste and its effects on the environment.
  • Understanding the significance of conserving the environment.

Materials

To teach how to reduce:

  • Pre-packaged chips vs. chips in a glass Tupperware
  • Reusable water bottle

To teach how to reuse:

  • Hand-me-down clothes
  • Plastic grocery bags to use as garbage bags

To teach how to recycle:

  • Newspaper
  • Plastic bottle
  • Glass bottle
  • Aluminum can

Starter

Begin your lesson by opening a small bag of chips, eating them, then tossing the wrapper on the ground. You can choose to do this obviously or subtly. Your students will more than likely call you out on your actions of improper disposal of your wrapper. Lead this into ways to properly dispose of trash and other items that can be recycled or reused.

After your introduction, show a video explaining the ins and outs of reducing, reusing, and recycling, like this video. You can find a video geared more toward younger or older kids based on your student's age; there is plenty of content on YouTube to find what you need.

Main

Discuss the following items concerning reducing waste:

  1. Ask your students to name a few ways to reduce waste.
  2. Explain why reducing waste is essential to the overall conservation of the environment.
  3. Ask for and provide examples of ways to reduce waste.
  4. Use the chips wrapper and a Tupperware of chips to explain ways to reduce waste.
  5. Explain the importance of using reusable water bottles and how it helps reduce environmental waste.
  6. Ask," What have you learned about reducing waste?"

Discuss the following items concerning reusing items:

  1. Ask your students to name a few ways to reuse items.
  2. Explain why reusing items is essential to the overall conservation of the environment.
  3. Ask for and provide examples of ways to reuse items.
  4. Use the hand-me-down clothes to teach about reusing items.
  5. Explain how reusing shopping/plastic bags as garbage bags helps conserve the environment.
  6. Ask," What have you learned about reusing items?" and "What are some items you can reuse?"
  7. Explain the difference between reducing and reusing.

Discuss the following items concerning recycling items:

  1. Ask the students what kind of items we recycle.
  2. Explain why recycling items is essential to the overall conservation of the environment.
  3. Ask, "What types of items can be recycled?"
  4. Review the basic items we can recycle: paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum. 
  5. Ask, "What are some items you currently recycle at home?" Then ask, "What items will you start recycling?"

Finally, conclude the lesson with the following discussion topics:

  1. Ask, "What is the impact of waste on the environment?" (Allow students to respond). Follow with a brief review of the effects of waste on people and the environment.
  2. Ask, "What is the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling for the environment?"
  3. Ask, "How can our class focus on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle?"

Evaluation

As a group project or homework assignment, assign your students to collect waste items they can reuse to create an art project. Showcase simple and complex art designed by artists worldwide, like the one in this video.

Students must present their work, including the items they reused in their art pieces. Work with your administration to showcase your student's work in the office or at another venue on campus as you try to encourage more students to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Written by Steve Ndar
Education World Contributor
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