Exploring Waste, Equity, and Environmental Justice

Encourage students to help create an environmentally just world.

Author: Recycle Rally

Recycle Rally

Recycle Rally has partnered with EcoRise to bring you a comprehensive curriculum that encourages students in middle and high school to solve real world waste and recycling challenges. This page describes the second of five modules in the curriculum. The environmental justice lesson below can accompany any unit on waste and recycling.


Click here to access the entire Sustainable Waste: Rethinking Waste & Recycling for the 21st Century curriculum.


Module 2: Exploring Waste, Equity, and Environmental Justice

Estimated time needed: One 55-minute session. This lesson is mapped to CCSS, NGSS, EFS, and TEKS standards.


In this module, students explore environmental justice, specifically looking at waste management through an equity lens. First, they consider landfills as a source of pollution and analyze various harms that landfills can cause people living near them and beyond. Then, students analyze the location of pollution-producing sites, including material recovery centers and landfills, and discuss how having access to a safe and clean environment is an equity and justice issue. This mapping activity leads to an exploration of the environmental justice movement. Students then apply what they’ve learned and use creativity to create a short zine on environmental justice. Finally, students play a speed thinking game to explore a waste-related design question. If you are pairing this lesson with the entire design challenge curriculum, this the first step in their waste design challenge.


How to Access the Sustainable Waste Curriculum

  1. Click the link “Get Curriculum” below.
  2. Select “I am a new user,” then enter your email address in the Username field. If you already have access to this page, simply sign in with your email address and password.
  3. Enter your full name and then check the “I agree” box.
  4. Click on “Enroll in Course.”
  5. Check your email for a link to set your password.

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