Reduce and Reuse

Grade: 2-8

Duration: 1 week

Objective: Students will graph class lunch waste. Students will use this information to devise a plan of action to reduce lunch waste.

  1. Have students conduct a lunch waste audit by recording each item they throw away at lunch. Discuss the list and graph the information.
  2. Using this data, have students estimate the number of items thrown away by the whole school every day, week, and month.
  3. Break class into small groups. Have each group make a list of ways students could reduce the amount of waste thrown away. Share these ideas with the class
  4. Choose a day in the upcoming week to have a "zero-waste" lunch. The challenge is to not create ANY waste at lunch. Suggest ways to do this, such as bring only what you will eat, use reusable containers, pack lunch in a cloth bag or lunch box.
  5. Conduct another lunch waste audit on zero-waste lunch day.
  6. Discuss the results and the importance of producing less waste.
  7. Discuss what students would be willing to do on a daily basis to help reduce waste from lunch.



Grade: 1-8

Duration: 1-2 hours, may take more than one class period

Objective: Students will determine the weight of paper waste generated by the class. Students will make their own paper to demonstrate recycling.


We live in a disposable society. Unfortunately, we may soon be drowning in our own garbage if we do not come up with a comprehensive, feasible plan for waste reduction. For example, Americans produce 154 million tons of garbage every year Ė enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome from top to bottom, twice a day, every day. Some ways to help the problem are to reduce wasteful habits and recycle everything we can. The following lessons give ideas on how to stimulate problem solving among your students.


  1. Collect all paper waste from the class over the course of a week.
  2. Weigh and discuss ways the amount of waste could be reduced
  3. Recycle the paper into new paper (see Ruth Weyland for more information)


Papermaking Materials (depending on your setup, materials will either be per child or per class)

The procedure followed was taken from the book Tin Can Papermaking, Recycle for Earth and Art by Arnold Grummer.



  1. Get a tin can with one end cut out. Set it on a level surface, open-end up.
  2. Over the tin canís open end, place a 6 x 6 inch piece of hardware cloth
  3. Place a 6 x 6 inch piece of non-metal window screen on top of the hardware cloth
  4. Place a tin can with both ends cut out over the window screen
  5. Pick a piece of 7 x 7 inch newspaper or several pieces of small paper which add up to 7 x 7. Adding construction paper will make for more vibrant colors.
  6. Tear up the paper into small pieces. Put the pieces into the blender. Add about one and a half cups of water.
  8. Run the blender for about 20 to 30 seconds
  9. Pour half of the blenderís contents into each of two containers
  10. Add about a half-cup of water to each container
  11. Take one container in each hand and pour both into the tin can at the same time
  12. Let all the water drain into the bottom can
  13. Raise the top can straight up
  14. Lift the new sheet and window screen off the hardware cloth. Place them on a flat surface
  15. Place another 6 x 6 inch piece of window screen over the new sheet
  16. Take a sponge and press it down on top of the window screen and new sheet. Continue pressing the sponge and squeezing out the water until the entire sheet has been covered and the sponge removes little, or no more, water.
  17. Carefully start at one corner and peel off the top window screen
  18. Lay down three folded paper towels on top of each other
  19. Pick up the screen with the new sheet on it. Turn them over onto the towels, new sheet against top towel.
  20. Apply sponge as before
  21. Peel off the window screen, add more paper towels on top of the new sheet.
  22. Press down with a piece of wood. Replace paper towels and repeat. Continue until little water is removed with dry towels
  23. Leave new sheet out to dry