How Much Can One Family Reduce Their Garbage?

3.8 based on 21 ratings

Updated on Jan 08, 2013

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Environmental Science


This project explores how much one family can reduce the amount of garbage they accumulate over a three week period.

Research Questions:

  • What are some ways to reduce the amount of garbage your family accumulates?
  • How many pounds of garbage can your family eradicate from your local landfill?


  • Scale
  • Gallon-sized self-sealing plastic bags
  • Large plastic garbage bags
  • Latex gloves
  • Pen or pencil
  • Lab notebook
  • Poster board
  • Markers

Experimental Procedure

  1. During week one, place two garbage bags in your kitchen. One garbage bag will be used for food scraps, while the other bag will be used for dry garbage.
  2. Give each member of your family two gallon-sized plastic bags. Each person needs to put all of their garbage into these bags throughout the day no matter where they are - school, work, etc. Again, they need to remember to separate food scraps from dry garbage. When each person gets home in the evening, they need to throw their small bags into the larger bags in the kitchen.
  3. At the end of week one, weigh yourself on a scale and record your weight. Then weigh yourself holding the bag of dry garbage. Take that weight and subtract your weight from it to determine how much the bag weighs by itself. Record the weight. Now figure the weight for the bag of food scraps using the same process and record its weight.
  4. Gather your family together. Put on a pair of latex gloves and go through the garbage. Discuss ways to help reduce the amount of garbage you have each week. Together, devise a plan of action.
  5. Put the plan into action, and repeat steps two and three each week for the next three weeks. Be sure to record all of your data.
  6. Analyze your data. Was your family able to decrease the amount of garbage you accumulated over a week? If so, by how much? Were they able to decrease throughout the entire three week process? How many pounds of garbage were you able to decrease from your garbage load over the three week period?
  7. Use poster board and markers to make a graph illustrating how many pounds of garbage you eradicated over the three week process.

Terms/Concepts: environment; recycling; landfill


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