Meet Rusty, our newest Zero Waste advocate! Join him on a journey to discover where all of our stuff comes from and where it all goes after we throw it away.




Targeting the 3rd grade, this standards-aligned lesson follows Rusty as he explores different regions, biomes, ecosystems, landmarks, and countries around the world. During the lesson, Rusty and students encounter, learn about, and work together toward solving waste-related environmental issues.

Watch the short introductory video and then use the provided lesson plan and worksheets.


          Rusty Lesson Plastics & The Ocean

          Read-Aloud Letter from Rusty

          Rusty Postcard

          Slideshow Rustygram (PPT), (PDF)

          Station Guide

          Group Handout Fish Friend Fish Foe



Join Rusty as he explores various locations, neighborhoods, and landmarks in and around New York City. Rusty and students learn about New York City’s rich history, its connections to waste and environmentalism, as well as current issues and contemporary solutions.

Rusty Field Trip from GrowNYC's Recycling Champions on Vimeo.


Choose Your Field Trip:

Rusty goes to Inwood Hill Park

          Rusty Lesson Inwood Hill Park

          Slideshow Inwood Hill Park (PPT, PDF)

          Venn Diagram Worksheet

          NYC Then & Now Worksheet

          Archeology Worksheet



Rusty goes to Dead Horse Bay




Rusty becomes the official of a “race to decomposition” between two pieces of food. One goes to the trash bin and the other to the organics bin as students follow these foods along their divergent and microscopic paths. In the end, students learn how this understanding can guide their everyday decisions about what to do with food waste.



          Rusty Lesson Race to Away

          Activity Rusty Madlib Fun

          Worksheet Rusty's Rot Race




In a moment where New Yorkers have turned to parks and gardening to ease the mental and emotional strain the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on residents, when the need for education surrounding nutrition and health couldn’t be more critical, the same nonprofits that make green space and nutrition education possible are in danger of going under, while vital city agencies like the New York City Parks Department’s GreenThumb program are facing severe budget cuts.

  • Food Access & Agriculture

    Our network of Greenmarket farmers markets, Youthmarkets, Fresh Food Box pick-ups, and Greenmarket Co. ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food.

  • Conservation

    We provide food scrap drop-offs, clothing collections, Stop 'N' Swap® community reuse events, and zero waste trainings to make resource conservation easy for all.

  • Green Space

    We build and rejuvenate community & school gardens in all 5 boroughs, and support even more gardens through volunteer days, technical assistance, school garden grants, & more.

  • Education

    We foster future environmental stewards by providing 66,000 children each year with programs that provide meaningful interactions with the natural environment.