Earth Day Discussion Prompt for Early Elementary School Students

Earth Day Discussion Prompt for Early Elementary School Students

By @LessHasteAndLessWaste

I’m a teaching assistant for a kindergarten class. I was excited to create this distance-learning Earth Day discussion prompt for early elementary school students and their caregivers. It has 4 discussion questions addressing waste prevention and waste disposal. A concluding activity could be sorting household waste into the appropriate bins.

 

About Earth Day:

Earth Day (April 22nd) is a holiday where people of all ages from every part of the world work together toward a very important goal: making our planet a cleaner and safer place. A clean and safe earth benefits the entire population of humans and animals. Taking action to help our earth also develops essential character traits such as responsibility [doing what needs to be done] and respect [showing others we care about their feelings].

Waste prevention:

What happens to our garbage once we put it in the garbage can and why should we try not to throw away too much?

After we put our trash in the trash can a truck driver will drive our trash away to burn it or bury it underground. Too much burning and burying makes our air and dirt unhealthy. We need healthy air to breathe and healthy dirt to grow plants and food. Sometimes after garbage is burnt or buried, tiny pieces of trash get washed away by the rain or moved by animals. Then it can end up in lakes or oceans and make the fish and birds sick. If an animal doesn’t see clearly they might think our garbage looks like food. If they eat trash it will hurt them. So those are 3 main reasons not to have a lot of garbage: it makes our air, dirt and animals unhealthy.

How can we stop having so much garbage?

The good news is there are many ways we can prevent [stop] trash. First, we can ask our leaders not to allow pollution [dirty air, land, and water].

Second, we can reduce [make less] garbage by choosing reusable water bottles, food containers, utensils, and lunch bags. These reusable items help the environment because reusables don’t have to be thrown away. By bringing reusables to school, we can eat and drink without making much trash.

A third way to prevent garbage is sharing toys and books with friends. If we share we won’t have to buy as much. When we buy fewer toys and books there won’t be as many to throw away when we outgrow them. We can also borrow books from the library and buy used toys to prevent waste of new items.

A fourth strategy [way] to prevent trash is to make good choices about what we buy. We can choose foods that are unpackaged (such as apples) or packaged in recyclable or compostable materials (like cardboard). Then we won’t have any wrappers to throw away. We can also choose to buy toys that we know we’ll enjoy playing with for awhile instead of toys that will break easily or that we won’t like after a few days. If we avoid buying things that will need to be thrown away then we can keep the air, dirt, and animals healthy.

 

Responsible disposal of waste

When I’m finished with my snack wrapper, Kleenex, or bandage, may I leave it on a picnic table, sidewalk, or playground?

No way! It’s important to dispose of garbage responsibly. Leaving trash anywhere other than in a garbage can or recycling bin is called littering. Littering is against the law in the United States. The law says we need to clean up after ourselves so the outdoors will be safe and healthy for people and animals.

 

What should I do with things I don’t want anymore?

Toys, books, and clothes that are outgrown but still in good condition may be donated [given] to friends or a thrift store like Goodwill that will sell them for less money than it would cost to buy brand new items. Then we won’t need to make and throw away as many new products.

Clean / dry plastic bags, bread bags, cereal bags, Ziploc bags, plastic mailing envelopes, and bubble wrap may be recycled in store drop-off bins at grocery stores and pharmacies. Unfortunately, these items can’t be recycled in residential [home] trash cans because there aren’t enough machines that are able to recycle very thin plastics. It’s easy to take plastic bags to stores like Target, CVS, or Safeway for recycling though. Here are pictures of plastic bag labels and store drop-off recycling bins:

Dublin plastic bag recycling_Original

Most other waste may be sorted into the compost/organics, recycling, and garbage bins at your home.

Compost/organics are food and plant products that can be ground into soil which plants can grow in. If paper or cardboard has food on it then it can be composted. Some cities offer municipal [city] compost. You can also make your own compost at home.

Recyclable items such as paper, plastic, metal, and glass are melted or shredded and then turned into new products. Paper and plastic can only be recycled a few times before they’re too weak to recycle any more though. Plus, the plastic melting process makes our air unclean. That’s why reducing [using less] and reusing is even better than recycling.

Items that can’t be composted or recycled are trash. Garbage has to be burned or buried which isn’t healthy for our air, dirt, and animals. It’s best to reduce garbage.

 

Thank you for keeping the earth clean and safe! Have a wonderful Earth Day.

Written by @LessHasteAndLessWaste

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