When this bizarre moustached & sunglasses-wearing Garbologist appeared in Ms. Curry’s class, one student exclaimed “what on Earth is happening!?”
And indeed, what was happening in this class of Grade Seven students at JA Laird Elementary in Invermere? Why was this garbologist rifling through the class garbage & separating items into the categories of recyclables, compost, food waste, and reusables? Well, it was the start of another great Beyond Recycling program, this time with Ms. Curry’s Grade 7 class! The class was completely shocked to discover the quantity of certain items, such as paper towel, the condition of other items such as un-opened fruit cups and oranges, and Ms. Curry was shocked to discover felt markers, which she pointed out could be disposed of in the class dead marker recycling bin. In the end, most items were found to either be recyclable, compostable, re-useable, or perfectly good, making the class’s actual garbage a tiny fraction of the masses of bags at the beginning of the exercise.
Since this dramatic beginning, students have explored the history of waste through human time, and delved into where everything comes from and the impacts associated with extracting raw materials from the Earth.
While learning about the increasing quantity and diverse quality of waste humans have created over time, students enjoyed dressing up as historical characters. Characters of note below include:
- A very energetic hunter-gatherer man who used all parts of the plants and animals he and his family harvested. We only find traces of their garbage in midden piles or rock shards.
- A Greco-Roman man who helped create the first municipal landfill after residents in his city continued to throw their waste out of their windows onto the city streets (gross!).
3. A smilin’ psychedelic-shirt wearing young woman from the 1960’s who enjoyed new inventions such as her funky polyester shirt, plastic albums, and processed foods. Unbeknownst to her, these inventions also came with a heavier waste footprint & serious impacts.
4. A toque-wearing modern man enjoying the conveniences of life in 2022, such as a cellphone, which unfortunately become a waste item far too frequently when the latest updated item arrives on the scene.
While students have been learning about their personal waste and the history of waste in human culture, they will soon start delving into their own research into how certain common classroom objects are extracted, produced, transported, consumed and finally disposed of. Stay tuned for these fascinating stories in the future!