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LNT #3 - Dispose of Waste Properly

The fall colors were going crazy in Ponderosa State Park this last week and we loved the sunny weather! The students enjoyed spending time observing the Lily Marsh and creating sketches of the changing aspen leaves. Pictured below are some students making their observations:

The focus this week was Leave No Trace Principle #3- Dispose of Waste Properly. I broke this day down into three sections. Trash, Microtrash and recycling. After breaking into teams, each group was given a trash bag to collect trash while on our hike. It is always interesting to hear the comments kids will make when they really start paying attention to the amount of trash found in natural areas. One of my student’s told me “I can’t believe someone would just leave this wrapper here. It’s basically on top of a mountain. Put it in your backpack people!” I agreed with her and this opened up the dialogue about the number of people recreating normally versus people getting outside because of the Corona virus. We talked about the benefits of getting outside but also the toll it was taking on the natural environment because people don’t know the rules of LNT!

Our first activity was creating a Trash Timeline! Students were given tools to set up a timeline and pictures representing different common trash items/trash materials that might be found on a hike. They had to create a timeline based on the decomposition rate of each item! I asked the group what trash item they were most surprised about and the answer- a pencil! It is estimated that it takes the graphite in the pencil anywhere from 100-200 years to decompose!

Here students in different grades are working together to create their timeline.

Our final activity for the day-- after a brief talk about microtrash -- was sorting recycling and telling the differences between items that can be recycled and what is trash. Students were given pictures or descriptions of common household waste. They had to work together to correctly sort these items. Many of them mentioned our local recycling center after this activity! Perhaps a field trip to the recycling center is in the future!

Don't worry...I made sure to mention the importance of washing out the materials before taking them to the recycling center!

I based the Trash Timeline lesson on this Activity by though I threw in a few of my own ideas into the lesson! Reach out if you are curious about how this lesson meets school standards!

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