Educational Resources and Activities

50 Interesting Recycling Facts
Recycling matters. This blog offers 50 interesting recycling facts. We all can rethink waste and reduce our impact. Visit blog.   
How Recycling Works
Watch how garbage can be recycled and made into new things instead of being landfilled by SciShowKids. Watch video.

Recycle Aluminum & Steel Cans
Aluminum cans and steel cans are recyclables forever! Watch Discovery/Science Channel video on process for making aluminum cans. Watch video.

How Stuff Works- Recycling Aluminum – watch video.  

Recycle Glass Bottles & Jars
NPR’s “How a Used Bottle Becomes a New Glass Bottle”. *Watch video. (Permission given by NPR) 

Recycle Plastic Bottles and Jars
Great videos on how plastic bottles are used to make new bottles and even carpet.

Recycle Food & Beverage Cartons
Video by Carton Council and recycling cartons.

  • The Sounds of Recycling: What Will Your Carton Become?: Watch video  (Permission by Carton Council) 
Environmental Education Resources/Lesson Plans K-12 on Litter and Recycling from LitteraitEd and Daily Stem
  As part of World Cleanup Day, educational resources have been created and shared to reduce our impacts. What does litter have to do with recycling? Looking for ways that kids and adults rethink trash? Want to reduce your impact? Check out these resources on litter and recycling created by Daily Stem (Chris Woods) and Litterati  that to help teachers get kids picking up trash and thinking about litter and recycling. (Used with permission)

  • Fast Food (K-12 Lesson Plans). Discover how much litter gets created by fast food packaging that people buy every day where you live. What solutions can you come up with to reduce waste created by packaging?
  • What is Litter? After a litter cleanup, use the Litterati App tagging function to learn about different categories of litter and the difference between litter vs. waste. Check out the Litterati app challenges K-12, too.
  • Creative Writing: Every piece of litter has a story.
  • These resources are designed for school, classroom, home school, or self directed learning. Visit

A Landfill is No Dump!
 Landfills are the most common forms of waste disposal and are an important component of an integrated waste management system. A landfill is a large area of land that is specifically designed and built to receive municipal solid waste. “Where does your trash go?” Find out, if you don’t know by visiting your local landfill or view online a “virtual tour” of the Henrico County Springfield Road Landfill Podcast #42 by the Virginia Trekkers. What would your family do if your trash was not picked up every week? What would happen to your garbage (and the garbage of everyone else in your area) if the landfill closed? What happens to a landfill when it is full? What does it mean to recycle and why it is important to keep recyclables out of landfills? How long does it take for different items to decompose?

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Municipal Solid waste in the United States: Facts and Figures
 Everything you would ever want to know about solid waste from the US EPA.

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Educational Materials on Solid Waste: EPA K-12
The EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery provides educational material’s for promoting an increased knowledge of solid waste issues, with emphais on waste reduction, reuse, and recycling for K-12 students. It also informs teachers about student award programs and grants, as well as references, tools, and data students can use in environmental research projects and reports.

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In this lesson students will investigate a bag of trash to find out how much of the contents of the bag actually needs to go to the landfill. Students will create two class posters that show which items are recyclable and which ones are not. They will complete a math activity to determine how many bags of trash their families generate.

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A Trashy Timeline: Where Does our Garbage Go?
  We all make way too much garbage. According to the US EPA Americans generate about 4.5 pounds of garbage (trash) everyday. Landfills keep filling up and people/local governments keep looking for more places to dispose of all of that garbage.

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Virginia Trekkers Podcasts
The Virginia Trekkers are Henrico County (VA) Public Schools technology educators that “trek” across Virginia creating hands-on learning and “virtual field trips” for students (and adults) on a variety of subjects. Their website offers a plethora of subject materials complete with video and online lessons. CVWMA was most fortunate to partner with the “Trekkers” on two videos.

Podcast #17 is a partnership with TFC Recycling and CVWMA  lets you see firsthand how items collected at the curb or a CVWMA drop-off collection site are taken to a local “MRF” (Materials Recovery Facility) to be sorted and processed so that new materials can be made from recyclables. (Note: CVWMA now accepts more items than we did when this video was made.)

View Virginia Trekkers Podcast # 17 (Recycling)

Podcast # 42 and its companion Journey Through a Landfill activity guide is a partnership with CVWMA, Henrico County Department of Public Utilities/Division of Solid Waste and Recycling,  and Keep Henrico Beautiful. The Virginia Trekkers will show viewers what happens to your trash after you throw it in the garbage can/cart. See where all it goes!

Students can see where their garbage goes as well as what items could be recycled. No one really knows if glass takes a million years to decompose. It is an educated guess. By doing this exercise with relative decompostion times, students will create a visual representation of the time it takes for various waste items left in a landfill to breakdown or decompose. It will get them to start thinking about all of their “stuff”. Discover how trash is turned into electricity and learn what you can do to reduce the amount of garbage/trash you send to the landfill. It’s an exciting place with lots to explore! Don’t miss the Trekkers interactive “Building a Landfill” activity as well as the phethora of educational links provided at the top header of the Podcast.

View Virginia Trekkers Podcast # 42 (Henrico Landfill)

Henrico Landfill Video 42

The Quest for Less: Activities and Resources for Teaching K-8
This resource provides downloadable hands-on lessons and activities, enrichment ideas, journal writing assignments, and other educational tools related to preventing and reusing waste.

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Educator's Guide to Planning a Field Day Event
An innovative, easy and fun way to incorporate environmental learning, creative thinking and physical education in an SOL-based one-day event. We also have 30 Buddy Style stations that is easy to incorporate.

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Buy, Use, Toss- A Closer Look at the Things We Buy Education Curriculum
9-12th grades (free download)

Buy, Use, Toss? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy is an interdisciplinary unit that includes ten fully-planned lessons. This unit is correlated with national science and social studies standards and will lead your students through an exploration of the system of producing and consuming goods that is called the materials economy. Students will learn about the five major steps of the materials economy; Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal. They will also be asked to analyze the sustainability of these steps, determining how consumption can benefit people, economies, and environments

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Recycling Partnership K-5 Recycling Curriculum
Recycling Partnership offers recycling curriculum grades K-5 that can be downloaded from their website for teaching the importance of recycling to our future recyclers.

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Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) Educational Curriculum

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PLT's Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste
Project Learning Tree module uses hands-on experiences to show the interrelationships among waste generation, natural resource use, and disposal. The activities guide students through waste management strategies and solutions while providing the necessary tools to make informed decisions and choices on waste management issues.

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