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A data-driven lesson series for New York City middle and high school student changemakers
The Waste Deep lesson series for middle school and high school students takes an in-depth look at the economic, social, and environmental impacts of waste on New York City and the world. Students work together to gain an authentic and holistic understanding of different issues. They are guided to pitch solutions to their peers, motivating their school and our city towards Zero Waste. How far and deep the students go is up to them!
Waste Deep Series Overview - Waste Deep is comprised of five parts (WD1-5) that lead students from understanding the issues around waste through the process of developing and evaluating a school specific action plan. Start here for a quick look at WD1-5, including a description of each part in the series and suggested time frame for completion.
Call to Action - A letter from Meredith McDermott, Director of the DOE Office of Sustainability
Click on a heading below to expand that section and view available resources.
WD1 Toolkit - All of the above WD1 materials in one packet.
In WD1, students examine over 65 printable quotes, statistics, graphs, maps, definitions, excerpts, cartoons, and photographs to gain a multidisciplinary understanding of waste and its relationship to current economic, social, and environmental issues in New York City and the world.
- Consumerism: From terms like “planned obsolescence” to political cartoons showing the “rat race” of seeking happiness from money, students will explore the environmental effects of our consumption habits.
- Environmental Justice: The definition of environmental justice applies to more than just waste. Students will discuss the inequities that exist in the world of waste management and beyond.
- Natural Resource Extraction: Students will learn the ways our economy has been built upon the use of finite resources and the environmental and human consequences of this system.
- “Away”: Students will engage with the concept of “away,” showing that landfills, incinerators, and the oceans are the actual places that receive our waste when we do not recycle.
- NYC Waste: Students will receive an overview of the history and present reality of waste management in New York City.
WD2 Toolkit - All of the above WD2 materials in one packet.
WD2 engages students with New York City specific data so that they can understand the composition of their waste, where it goes, how it gets there, and the challenges and goals of NYC's 0x30 sustainabilty plan.
WD3 Lesson Plan
Data Capture Tools Overview
Collecting Cafeteria Data
Recycling Inspection Rating Chart
Classroom Waste Investigation
Bin Tally Sheet
WD3 Toolkit - All of the above WD3 materials in one packet.
WD3 provides students an opportunity to learn about cases when citizen scientists used data to expose environmental issues and drive positive social change. Students then select and prepare a research tool to investigate the waste-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of themselves, their peers, and the adults in their school community. Students can analyze their findings, present summaries to their peers, and use their research to guide their action plans developed in WD4 Taking Creative Action.
In WD5 students collect data and make group reflections to evaluate the effectiveness of their action plans, present key findings, and discuss opportunities for continued improvement. Tracking and showcasing the impact that students have on moving their school community toward zero waste is an ongoing process.