Where Did It Come From? And Where Is It Going?

Harrison Thomas' "AWESOME Lunch Box"

At our after-school meeting last month, the Chesnut Changers considered the origins and destinations of the “stuff” we use every day. First we educated ourselves about what happens after we throw something in a garbage or recycling bin, by watching snippets of the following videos:
(The first made the kids laugh) Funny Recycling PSA

We paused along the way to talk about best practices to reduce pollution and waste. The kids answered questions such as:
1. What uses less resources such as water, electricity, oil, gas, quartz, aluminum, trees – creating new products or recycling?

“Recycling aluminum reduces the need to mine fresh bauxite ore to meet demand, lessening environmental damage caused by the mining process. Plastic may not be as repeatedly recyclable as aluminum, but finding new uses for reclaimed plastics conserves petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Glass production uses common raw materials like quartz sand, but the energy saved by manufacturing with recycled glass reduces carbon emissions.”– US EPA: Communicating the Benefits of Recycling)
2. Landfills
– What if a landfill’s liner leaks?
– Decomposing garbage releases methane gas, some of which is captured for energy – what happens to methane that leaks out?
– Do plastic and glass break down in a landfill (under best conditions plastic takes over 500 years and glass takes over 4000)?
– Do the compostable materials (like paper, food scraps, plant-based disposables) in a landfill get enough oxygen to break down and does its liner allow them to return to the Earth?

3. Out of what do YOU usually drink and eat your snacks – something reusable or disposable?

4. Better than recycling, which also uses water and energy; what can we do to keep things out of landfills? (The kids supplied:  reuse before buying new; turn trash to treasure; clothes and toy swap before throwing away; use reusable things rather than disposable.)

Then we got to work, repurposing milk and juice jugs into reusable food and snack containers. Here’s the method we used.

Chesnut Changer Miyah Jones devised a simple way to align the Velcro latch:  put the hook and loop pieces together first, next affix one side to one of the flaps, then close up the container and press down to affix the remaining sticky side to closing flap.

Chesnut Changer Harrison Thomas dubbed his creation “HARRISON’S AWESOME LUNCH BOX.” He’s right. It is pretty awesome to give new life to something you were going to throw away.


One response to “Where Did It Come From? And Where Is It Going?

  1. I had so much fun making these containers with the kids. Thank you for sharing this great way to reuse an old milk jug (I made one for my little girls)!


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