The Regional Municipality Of York


Waste Education

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The Trash Blasters program provides inspiration, tools and resources to assist elementary schools to reduce their waste and improve reuse and recycling efforts at school and at home.

Let us know you will be participating by filling out this form.  

Tools and Resources Download Resources Now

The program includes the following components:

Idea Zone

Trash Blasters – Kindergarten Idea Zone

Waste related activities for the classroom (Kindergarten)

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Trash Blasters – Grade 1-3 Idea Zone

Waste related activities for the classroom (grades 1-3)

  • Musical Garbage!
    • Have students walk around a pile of waste (water bottles, milk cartons, newspaper, etc.) When the music stops children quickly grab a piece of trash.
    • Variation: Instead of just grabbing any piece of trash, make each round specific. For example, everyone must pick up something that is recyclable. For the next round tell the children to pick up something that goes in the garbage, or something that can be reused and have them tell you how.
  • Reuse Costume Contest
    • Consider hosting a Halloween costume swap in your school. Or, challenge students to come up with costumes using items at home instead of purchasing costumes from the store. Also considering visiting second hand stores for ideas and costume pieces.
  • Waste Matching Game
    • Create a matching game of waste words and definitions. The 4 R’s, Green Bin, Garbage, Recycling, Compost, Yard Waste, E-Waste, Landfill, etc.
  • Waste Race!
    • Collect a variety of waste items (or use pictures.) Use Bindicator to determine which bin they go in.  Then test your knowledge. Divide the class into teams. Host a relay race where one member of a team at a time takes an item and places it in the correct place (garbage, blue box, green bin, etc.) Each student takes turns until all items are sorted. Give points for correct items and deductions for any incorrect items.
  • Recycled Crafts
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Trash Blasters – Grade 4-6 Idea Zone

Waste related Activities for the Classroom (grades 4-6)

  • Recycle Jeopardy
    • Test and encourage students’ knowledge of waste reduction and recycling
  • Decomposition Timeline
    • Research and create a decomposition timeline (plastics, metals, paper, etc.)
  • Math Exercises
    • Measure volume of food waste, calculate cost of food waste and compare from week to week
    • Make graphs representing the data
  • Create a Code of Ethics
    • Brainstorm ways to reduce waste in everyday activities and create a sustainability contract.
  • 20 Questions – Waste edition
    • Assign each student a piece of a waste and tape it/pin it to their back. Have the students ask yes or no questions so they can try and figure out what item they have. Example: Am I recyclable? Am I plastic? Can I hold it in my hand? Can I eat it?  Answers can only be “Yes”, “No or “Maybe”.
  • Yard Cleanup Day
    • Have students collect litter around the school property or a close neighbourhood park. Weigh your total waste collected and share the information with the school and the community  (Request a copy of our Teacher’s Guide for instructions and resources).
  • Crafts
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Trash Blasters – Grade 7-8 Idea Zone

Waste related Activities for the Classroom (grades 7-8)

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Trash Blasters – High School Resources

Waste related Activities for High School students

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Trash Blasters – Resources For All Grades

  • Poster Contest
    • Make posters to help raise awareness about proper waste sorting or provide information on how to reduce waste
      • Poster ideas for younger students:
        • What goes where (blue box, green bin, garbage, compost), re-usable water bottles, good on one side paper (GOOS), litterless lunches.
  • GOOS Paper Bin (Good On One Side)
    • Have a bin in the classroom and other areas of the school where a lot of paper is used that is filled with scrap paper
    • Host a GOOS paper bin challenge for the most creative bin
  • Litterless Lunches
    • Encourage the use of reusable lunch bags, drink containers and food containers
    • Make it a positive experience by making it voluntary. Students can show lunch monitors their litterless lunch and can be entered for a draw to win a prize
    • Make the connection between litterless lunches and healthy eating choices
    • Consider signing up for York Region’s My Healthy Lunch Challenge
  • Swap and Share
    • Set up a “Swap and Share” table in the school where staff and students can place unwanted items in good condition and take whatever they want off the table
    • Host a Plant Swap and get that garden growing!
    • Host a Clothing Swap (and donate leftovers to local charities or thrift stores)
  • Update Waste Signs
    • Ensure all waste bins have appropriate signs so the right items end up the right place
  • Environment Club/Eco Teams/Recycle and Waste Management Teams
    • Students host regular meetings to discuss/work on waste reduction initiatives for their school
    • Students create a section in the school newspaper, or weekly/monthly newsletters for parents with a focus on waste reduction, reuse, proper sorting
    • Involve students, custodians, teachers and admin
    • Waste monitoring – Have team members monitor classroom waste, give ratings on how each classroom is doing and provide tips for improvement
    • Host a school waste audit and evaluate the waste generated per day or per week.
  • Computer Lab/Printing Tips
    • Always use “Print Preview” to check page layout before printing
    • Print double-sided
    • Print only required pages of a document
    • Use GOOS (good on one side) paper whenever printing single page or draft documents
    • Edit documents online instead of printing out copies (don’t print until final draft)
    • Use Google Docs for editing if working in a group
    • Submit assignments electronically whenever possible
  • Reduce Food Waste
    • Check out York Region’s Good Food campaign which focuses on healthy eating and reducing food waste
    • Encourage students to take uneaten food home and let parents know likes and dislikes to avoid unnecessary food waste

  • Host an E-Waste Collection Event
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Trash Blasters – Video Resources

Virtual Tour of the Durham York Energy Centre (DYEC) – Take a virtual tour of York Region’s energy-from-waste facility and see where garbage ends up.

Recycling in York Region – What happens to blue box materials once they leave the curb? Suitable for grades 1 – 8 and ESL students.

Composting in York Region – What happens to green bin materials once they leave the curb?

How Recycling Works – Suitable for grades 7 – 12.  Note: York Region is a single-stream recycler and that polystyrene foam is not accepted in the blue box, but is recyclable at our Community Environmental Centres.

E-Waste Recycling Video - Suitable for grades 7-12.

Creative Houses from Reclaimed Stuff – Tours of homes built with mostly recycled and reclaimed materials. Suitable for grades 9 – 12.

Turning Trash Into Toys  – Using common household waste items to create toys for learning.  Suitable for teachers who teach Kindergarten – grade 3, or art classes.

What Really Happens to the Plastic You Throw Away – Demonstrates the life cycle of a plastic bottle when disposed of in different ways. Suitable for grade 7-12

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Brief video about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Suitable for grades 7-12. 

Trash me with Rob Greenfield!  – Rob ‘wears’ all trash that an average American produces as a visual representation of the quantity of trash a single person can make over 30 days. Suitable for all grades.

How to End the Food Waste Fiasco  – How consumers and retailers can fight the issue of food waste. Suitable for grades 7 – 12.

The Global Food Waste Scandal – Raising awareness of the amount of food being wasted on a global scale. Suitable for grades 7-12.

Why Plastic Pollution is Personal – Demonstrates the impacts of plastic waste in the environment with a focus on water systems. Large focus on plastic waste that is flushed down toilets. Suitable for grades 9-12.

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For more information and to register, please call 1-877-464-9675 ext 75196.

The resource links provided on this webpage are intended for education and informational purposes only. They have been created or are operated by independent bodies, and have been provided as a public service and do not imply the investigation or verification of these resource links. Although every attempt has been made to ensure their accuracy, The Regional Municipality of York makes no warranties or representations, expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information, or the fitness of it for the intended purpose. Any use that any party other than The Regional Municipality of York makes of these resource links is done at the risk of, and is the sole responsibility of, that party.

Teacher's Guide for general waste

Grade 4 and 5 Teacher’s Guide Now Available

Waste teachers guideEnvironmental Services has designed a teacher’s guide that includes general waste management facts, tips on sustainable waste management practices and activity guides with curriculum links to the Ontario Ministry of Education Elementary Curriculum for Grades 4 and 5.

Order free copies of the guide for your school now!

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