Disposable Culture

Disposable Culture Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Modern Western culture places an emphasis on new, quick, and streamlined. As we know, when buying new technology, it often seems outdated minutes after you've left the store with it. But what does it mean for our world in a long-term sense when we're replacing our phones every two years and our computers every four, eating our lunches with plasticware, drinking our coffee from paper cups and our water from plastic bottles, and throwing out spoiled food we didn't have time to cook?

Use these resources to explore what our garbage says about us, find out what can be recycled, reused, converted, and composted to reduce what ends up in landfills or on garbage barges, and learn what steps you can take in order to avoid accumulating excess stuff.

Filter Resources by Grade:


  • Engineering Solutions

    Engineering Solutions

    3-5  |  Hands-On
    In this lesson, students explore the side effects of technology by designing, implementing, and evaluating solutions related to the problem of waste disposal.
  • Garbage 1: The Roots of Trash

    Garbage 1: The Roots of Trash

    3-5  |  Hands-On
    In this lesson, students identify natural resources used to produce common items and how science and technology are used in the process.
  • Garbage 2: Recycling

    Garbage 2: Recycling

    3-5  |  Hands-On
    In this lesson, students learn about the problems of waste disposal and how recycling can help to reduce the amount of waste we create.
  • Collapse 2: Interpreting the Evidence

    Collapse 2: Interpreting the Evidence

    6-8  |  Hands-On
    This lesson offers useful information and activities that help students learn about the ways that scientists learn about civilizations that have disappeared, archaeological issues, methods, evidence, and types of measurement.
  • Sanitation and Human Health

    Sanitation and Human Health

    In this lesson, students develop an understanding of the impact of improved sanitation on human health.


  • Power Up!

    Power Up!

    3-8  |  Interactive
    This interactive challenges students to think about the positive and negative consequences of various types of power.

Science Updates

  • Bacterial Batteries

    Bacterial Batteries

    6-12  |  Audio
    Bacteria get a bad rap for causing disease, but many of these organisms are beneficial. Without them, we wouldn't be able to digest our food, and garbage would never decompose. This Science Update describes how one group of scientists has found another way to put bacteria to work.
  • Elephant Grass

    Elephant Grass

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, you can hear about how researchers make car parts out of biodegradable plastic using elephant grass as a filler.
  • Litter Life

    Litter Life

    6-12  |  Audio
    Floating trash could be a significant way for unwanted organisms to travel to distant lands.
  • Ocean Plastics

    Ocean Plastics

    6-12  |  Audio
    Scientists are getting a better handle on how much plastic we put into the oceans and what effects it’s having.
  • Ships to Reefs

    Ships to Reefs

    6-12  |  Audio
    Sinking old warships creates new habitats for marine species.
  • Wasted Food

    Wasted Food

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, hear how nearly half of America's food gets wasted.
  • Wasted Food Energy

    Wasted Food Energy

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, hear how reducing food waste could translate into big energy savings.
  • Zeolites


    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, hear how scientists are creating new ways to separate toxic waste and dangerous chemicals from the environment.

AAAS Resources

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
A post on our Educator Blog about the August 10, 2012, Working with Waste issue of Science magazine

New Set of Resources to Help You Teach about Waste and Recycling
A follow-up post on our Educator Blog with additional resources focused on waste.

What to Do With Waste
A special, free bibliography from SB&F of recommended books and videos to help discuss the issues and challenges we face when dealing with waste disposal.

Did you find this resource helpful?

Collection Details

Grades Themes