Masthead Orange & Rockland

How Healthy Is Your Lunch? Activity

This activity will help you and your classmates discover how healthy your lunches are—for the environment, that is!

You will need:

  • Two plastic garbage bags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Two large trash bins
  • A scale
  • A list of the materials that can be recycled in your area
boy with lunch

1. Predict. Do you think the lunches that you and your classmates eat contain more disposable items (trash) or more recyclable items? Write your answer here:



2. Gather Evidence. Your teacher will set up two trash bins in the lunch room for this activity. As a class, make a sign that lists the types of lunchbox items that are recyclable in your area (such as plastic forks, plastic bottles, glass, cans, paper napkins, etc.) and tape it to the outside of one of the bins—this one will be for recyclables. After lunch, put all the recyclable items left from your lunches into the recyclables bin. Then put all the other non-food trash items into the trash bin. Have a student monitor at each bin to make sure that only recyclable items go into the first bin and only trash goes into the second one. Be sure to take home any uneaten food, silverware, and thermoses or other reusable containers.

3. Observe.Weigh the two bags:

1) How much does the bag of trash weigh? ____________

2) How much does the bag of recyclables weigh? ____________

4. Calculate. Every pound of trash sent to the landfill generates about .94 pounds of CO2 due to the energy used to get it there and the gases that are emitted as it decomposes or is incinerated.

1) How many pounds of CO2 come from your class’s lunchbox trash? (Multiply the weight of your trash bag by .94.) ____________

2) How many pounds of CO2 is your class preventing by using recyclable items instead of disposable ones? (Multiply the weight of your recyclable bag by .94.) ____________

5. Conclude. Why do you think your class has more trash, or more recyclables? What can be done to reduce the amount of trash?




6. Make a Change. Do this activity again one week later. This time talk with your family about packing a lunch with as much recyclable and reusable packaging as possible. Compare your results with those from the first round. How much did you improve?

How to Pack a Zero-Waste Lunch

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