Title: Garbage/Solid Waste Disposal 222

Key Words: municipal solid waste, waste disposal

National Standard: 16 (Changes in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources)
State Standard: 14
(Changes in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Disposal of solid waste has become a critical issue. Our modern lifestyle and growing population has created voluminous amounts of disposable containers, metals, organic materials, and hazardous wastes. Where to put it all? How to dispose of it? How to decrease the problem? These lessons will raise consciousness about some of the issues and solutions.

Objective: Students will examine the issues about solid waste disposal and make a proposal about the location of a waste disposal site.

Materials: Maps of local towns and overhead transparencies of each.
Photographs, poster, or slides of garbage and waste disposal sites.
Local newspaper articles on related topics.
Optional: The video Castles based on the book of the same name by David Macauley.
The May 1991 issue of National Geographic.

Lesson One: Hold up the classroom waste basket and say, "Garbage!" Ask students what they think of when they hear the word garbage. Give them a few minutes to write down their thoughts. Ask volunteers to share what they wrote. If no one brings up waste disposal, add it to their responses.

Continue to raise consciousness about the topic by asking them to visualize the school or their town if all the waste disposal workers walked off their jobs for a week or two. What would we do with all the garbage?

Write these words on the chalkboard: Dump it, Bury it, Burn it, Convert it into something else,, Reduce the amount of future garbage. Ask if anyone can identify what these phrases have to do with garbage (answer: Ways of dealing with solid waste). Ask if they can identify the most common way people have dealt with waste disposal through the ages (answer: Dumped it).

Optional: Show the video clip from Castles. Fast forward it to the scene showing a bucket of waste being dumped onto the street as people pass by. Students will respond to this enthusiastically. Ask, "Have we gotten smarter about how we dispose of household waste?"

Introduce the term Municipal Solid Waste - The garbage that is produced in homes and businesses. Point out that this doesn't include all the garbage our society produces. Other categories are: agricultural, mining, and industry.

The rest of the lesson will focus on municipal solid waste since that is what is closest to the students. Please note that it is the category representing the smallest percent of the total waste produced. Agricultural waste accounts for the most with mining and industry following.

Arrange students in groups of two or three. Give each group a map of the local town, and ask them to decide on a site for one of these: a sanitary landfill, an incinerator, or a hazardous waste site. They must have a list of reasons for choosing the site. Give them about five to ten minutes to discuss it, make the decision, and list the reasons. Since the purpose of this activity is to create awareness and discussion, it should not be graded.

Show an overhead transparency of the map they have been using, and ask for a representative of each group to come up and point to the spot they chose and give their reasons for that choice. If the following issues are not raised by the students, bring them up in addition to what they suggest: increased traffic with heavy trucks, odor, noise, location too near the town water supply, eye sore, or accessibility.

Survey the class about the kinds of waste disposal sites they chose. If no one chose hazardous waste site, ask why. Maybe someone might refer to the "Not in my backyard" response. Use this to raise the next question about where should solid waste be put.

Ask for a summary of the main points: How does modern society deal with waste disposal? What is municipal solid waste? You have to consider many things when deciding where to locate a waste disposal site.

Lesson Two: This lesson builds on the first as a way of exploring some of the solutions to waste disposal issues.

Set up each of the following three learning stations listed below. Allow students ten to fifteen minutes at each station to accomplish the task at each.
Station One: Sketch a plan for a recycling plant. Label each part. Tell what is being recycled. Write a newspaper ad to attract people to use this plant.

Station Two: Make a list of the ways old rubber tires can be used. Add a few illustrations to the list to clarify it.

Station Three: Select on of the following topics and write a list of questions you could ask about each topic: Putting garbage on offshore barges, Using the ocean as a dump, Shooting garbage into orbit or outer space.

Once students have done all three stations, ask for feedback on each station activity.

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: Our modern world creates much solid waste. Disposing of it has become a problem with many solutions.
Problems of waste disposal can not be ignored or handled without careful planning.
"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is a slogan that refers to part of the solutions.

Evaluation/Assessment: Prepare an agenda for a meeting to be held with the town officials on the topic of waste disposal. Cover all issues raised in class. Schedule a guest speaker to speak on the issue you consider most important. Write a brief description of what you expect the guest speaker to show or tell the group.

Extension/Enrichment: Study Japan's creative ways to solve the waste disposal problem there.
Find out the role of waste water treatment plants.
Interview people who work in the waste disposal business.
Investigate the methods your town uses to dispose of solid waste. Find out how much and what kinds of solid waste it handles.

Make a pledge to minimize the amount of waste you create at home and at school.

Locate information about World War II Drives for scrap metal, rubber, wire, rags, etc.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.
Thank you,
The authors

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