Welcome to the Trace Your Trash Project,

November 15th is National Recycling Day. A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how to incorporate this topic into my environmental science class. After a couple of days of hashing some ideas around in my head, I came up with the idea of having students try to figure out 1) what trash our students produce in a typical day at school and 2) what happens to this trash after it leaves the school. My environmental science book stated that typically, once the trash is picked up, the waste company takes it to a transfer station. Here, it is separated and sent to a dump, recycling plant, or an incinerator. I wanted to know if this was really true, so I have devised a project for my students to trace their trash. Our ultimate goal is 1) to educate ourselves on what happens to our trash, 2) to construct a layer in Google Earth that shows what happens to our trash, and 3) to devise a plan to reduce the ecological footprint of our school through breaking the chain of consumption and disposal.

If you would like to join this project, please feel free. I would start by watching the video at the link below. I have also included the documents we used to do this project. If you have any questions or ideas on how to improve this project, feel free to contact me: Thomas Cooper
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You Need to Watch This!

The Story of Stuff -

Projected Outcomes
  • Video of Wastes Produced at School
  • Interviews with Key Professionals who Process Our Trash
  • Wiki on the Issue
  • Google Earth Layer that Geographically Displays Each Step of the Process
  • Plan of Action to Reduce Solid Waste at Schools
  • Art Projects that Incorporate Recyclable Objects

Proposed Due Dates:
  • Nov. 30th - Brainstorm the Issue external image pdf.png Brainstorm the Issue.pdf
  • Dec. 6th - Storyboard due for School Trash Video external image pdf.png School Trash Storyboard.pdf
  • Dec. 12th - What Waste Do You Produce? (see below: "Walker Talks Trash")
  • Jan. 20th - Interviews with Key Trash Personnel (see below: Waste Industries Presentation; MOLAM Industries CEO Interview)
  • Feb. 1st. - Text, Pictures, Video Due on Wiki
  • Feb. 8th - Completion of Individual School's KMZ files
  • Feb. 15th - Compilation of Google Earth Layers
  • Feb. 22nd - Recyclable Temporary Art Projects Set Up and Pictures
  • March - Plan of Action Submitted to Wiki
  • March - Final Reports on Wiki

Calendar of Events
We have created a calendar of events to help you plan to complete this project. On the calendar we have also scheduled online conservations using Elluminate for teachers to get together, talk about the project, voice any questions and concerns, and to help build our community. We will also be offering monthly tutorials on how to use Google Earth. These sessions will be the last Monday of each month at 8 pm EST, excluding holidays. Sessions will be recorded and posted in the session archive on our site. Completion dates provided on the calendar are only suggestions. Schools may enter the project at any time during the year and data may be posted at any time up until May 30th when the project closes for the year.

* Previous project sessions are stored on the "Archives " page of The Networked Learner wiki.

Trace Your Trash Composite Layer


What Trash Do You Produce?

Walker Talks Trash

Interview Question for Walker Community - "What trash do you produce during your daily activities at school?"

How is Trash Processed in Georgia?

Disposal of Georgia MSW

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Interview Questions for Waste Industries - external image pdf.png Waste Industries Interview Questions.pdf

What happens to your electronic waste?

Walker Interviews MOLAM CEO

Computer Recycling Process Used by MOLAM

Interview Questions for MOLAM Industries - external image pdf.png MOLAM E-Watse Recycling Interview Questions.pdf

Walker Interviews Grady Road Landfill

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Interview Questions for Grady Road Landfill - external image pdf.png Grady Road Landfill Interview.pdf


Atomic Learning, Windows MovieMaker 2 Tutorials -

Google Earth KML/KMZ Tutorials -
Notes: Programming can be done in a text editor, such as Note Pad, but if you have a copy of Google Earth Pro, it would make life easier.

Izzy Video -
Notes: great photography and video tips and tutorials

Online Resources:


Afterlife of Garbage -
Notes: podcast on what happens to our garbage after it leaves our home.

Consumed - Marketplace

Tess Trash Challenge
Notes: Tess Vigeland of Marketplace is taking a challenge to carry her garbage around with her for 2 weeks. Compost and recyclables are exempt. Can you imagine carrying your garbage around with you? Could you put it in a small shopping bag or would you need a wheelbarrow?

Our E-Waste Comes Back to Haunt Us

Articles Online

20 Things You Didn't Know About Garbage

Estimating and Addressing American's Food Losses

Secrets of the San Men


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things -
Authors: William McDonough and Michael Braungart
Notes: Great book for background reading about industrial production, downcycling, and wastes.

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte (ISBN: 031615461X)


Manufactured Landscapes -
Notes: MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES is the striking new documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of “manufactured landscapes”—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris.
Running Time: 90 minutes

Recycled Life -
Notes: Great movie on people in developing countries and how their life depends on working and living in a dump.
Running Time: 35 minutes

The Story of Stuff -
Running Time: 20 minutes


Basal Action Network -

E-Waste Guide -

Free Cycle -

Georgia Landfills -

Georgia Superfund Sites -

Georgia Waste Industries Facility Sites -

Go With the Flow -

Green Museum -
Notes: Has information on environmental artists and those who do art with "found objects".

The Rock Garden-
Notes: Largest folk art garden in the world created over years made entirely of reclaimed materials found in dumps.

National Recycling Coalition -
Notes: Has information on the recycling process.

Plasma Arc Incinerator -
Notes: Developed by Georgia Institute of Technology

Problem-Based Learning Study Guide -
Notes: Gives a short summary of PBL and how it can be employed in the classroom.

Proper E-Waste Disposal Tips -