Lesson Plan: Where Does Our Waste Go?

Students learn where waste goes and the impact of certain waste materials on landfills.

Author: Recycle Rally

Recycle Rally

Recycle Rally has partnered with EcoRise to bring you comprehensive, hands-on lessons focused on waste and recycling for grades K-12. In this lesson, your students will learn all about landfill waste. Access the free lesson plan by clicking on the link below!




Lesson 3.1: Little Landfill


In this lesson written for grades 3-4, students learn that waste does not just go away after it is thrown in a trash can – it ends up in a landfill or a dump, or it is burned. Each of these systems solves the problem of getting the waste out of sight, but each also creates new problems along the way. As a result, many communities are adopting a zero-waste vision for the future, which involves rethinking how much waste we create and what happens to it. Students explore these concepts and learn how different places handle waste differently. Then they conduct a scientific simulation of a landfill to answer this question: Which kind of landfill waste lasts longer —organic waste or inorganic waste?


Estimated time needed: Two 40-minute sessions, five minutes per day for five days, and one final 10-minute discussion


All lessons are mapped to CCSS, NGSS, EFS, and TEKS standards.




Students will be able to…

  • Describe three examples of where waste goes in communities around the world (landfills, dumps, incineration).
  • Describe three concerns about our current waste production habits.
  • Explain why zero waste is a goal for the future.
  • Explain whether organic or inorganic wastes last longer in a landfill, and why.


How to Access the Free Lesson Plan


  • Click the link “Get Lesson Plan” below.
  • Select “I am a new user,” then enter your email address in the Username field.
  • Enter your full name and then check the “I agree” box.
  • Click on “Enroll in Course.”
  • Check your email for a link to set your password.

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