Posted by: David McKay | May 13, 2011

Teaching the Next Generation About Garbage

I had the chance to substitute in a 5th/6th grade classroom a few days ago — a class I am quite familiar with, being the same school I did my student teaching in last fall.  I know all the kids, and it has been a pleasure to see them grow over the past eight months.

Well, this past Saturday was Green Up Day in Vermont, and the teacher left me notes in his sub plans telling me that I could talk about garbage during the morning science block if I wanted to.  Did I!

We generate a massive amount of garbage on this planet. I told them that this is their world — they are inheriting this planet and they have a choice as to how they want to live on it.

I showed them these four videos, and told them that I could talk about this all day long…

We talked about landfills and where your garbage goes. We talked about a caste of people in India that live in the landfill.
“If this was my class, we would be taking a field trip to a landfill…”

I told them about my resolution and that I was on Day 485 or so…
I asked the class, “Who has a plastic water bottle, raise your hands?” and “Who has a reusable water bottle?” Did their parents get plastic bags at the grocery store? Did they have reusable bags? One child told me about his dad’s way of stuffing a cupboard with plastic bags, and that’s just the way it was done. I said that that is alright, but I also said to that child that he has the ability to make his own choice about how he wants to live.

At the end of this video, the singer tells his audience that this is his contribution towards making a difference. One girl spoke up and said that we all, each and every one of us, have the ability to make a difference.

Midway Island. Way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I pulled up Google Earth and showed the class where Midway Island was. So far from all of us humans, yet covered in garbage. What we do here, where we live, makes an impact on a tiny speck of land thousands and thousands of miles away.

We have a responsibility — towards the next generation, and the next, and the next…
We have a responsibility — towards our environment and our planet…

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse.



  1. Yes David!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks, mom!

  2. Thanks David!
    The kids were talking about it all day!

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