Waste Not, Want Not?

Think about dinnertime at your home. The process of preparing a meal creates waste, much of which is thrown out as garbage. You have been studying Earth's resources and how humans can use them most wisely. This activity explores how the common task of preparing a meal at home can create an amazing amount of trash.

Materials

Several bottles and jars.

Procedure

As you and family members prepare dinner, ask an adult to help you form a “waste pile.” The pile is made up of all the scraps of food, paper, metal, or plastic packaging that would otherwise be discarded. Do not forget to put paper labels and lids for cans and jars in your pile. After you have eaten dinner, add to the waste pile all the uneaten food that would be thrown away. Now sit down and make a list of everything in the waste pile.

Results

Is your list long? Are any of the paper/glass/metal items recyclable? Could some of the food be used as leftovers? Could the rest of the food scraps be composted instead of thrown away? How would this benefit Earth? Think about the list you produced from your family's meal and about the number of families in your town. How much waste is produced each night an entire town as dinner is prepared? Where does this waste go?