Reuse It

Waste comes in all shapes and sizes. In order to understand that waste can be separated into different categories, students should be familiar with the different types of waste.

Key Concept

Waste can be reused in many different ways.

Learning Objectives

Students will recognise different types of waste and will develop ways to reuse it.  Students will realise second hand and opportunity shops are sources of good inexpensive clothings, toys and various other products.


Have each student bring in one or two examples of waste from his or hers home (ask children to be sure the waste has been cleaned as much as possible before they bring it to school).  The collected materials should include old toys, books, clothing, plastic containers, aluminium cans, tin cans, paper, glass bottles and cardboard.  Ask the students NOT to bring in any sharp materials.

Learning Steps

  1. Place all of the waste materials in one pile on the classroom floor, taking care not to break the glass.  Talk about the different resources, where they came from, and their individual characteristics, for example
    • Toys - plastic, wood
    • Magazines - paper comes from trees, flexible, lightweight
    • Glass - solid, breakable, made from sand
    • Plastic - flexible, lighter than glass, waterproof, made from oil
    • Aluminium - light, does not rust, non-magnetic, made from bauxite (rock mineral)
    • Steel - made of alloy (metal), magnetic, made from minerals
    • Paper - lightweight, made from trees, easy to tear
    • Cardboard - sturdy, made from trees
    • Clothing - made from natural fibres like cotton and wool or from synthetic figures such as rayon or polyester.
    • Label boxes or place signs at the front of the classroom and have the children sort the waste into categories such as paper, plastic, clothing, metal, glass, aluminium etc.  Notice the feel of the different textures and shapes. 
    • Question - Can we reuse any of this waste?  In groups or individually write down the different ways to reuse the sorted waste.  Discuss the results as a group.
    • Create a Poster showing all the "Reuse It" possibilities.

    Extra Activity

    Get your class to organise a 'swap shop' for such items as comic books, magazines, books, toys, games, puzzles, CD's, ornaments, posters.  If the 'swap shop' is a succes, take it that extra mile and get the support of your PTA and Board of Trustees and promote a community-wide garage sale at school as a fundraiser. 

    Encourage REUSE IT - the reuse of household items and help reduce waste.  One persons rubbish is anothers treasure.