MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO: Consumer Packaging Waste
- What are some products that you use every day that generate trash as you use them?
- Why do grocery stores sell single units of a product?
- What are some examples of single use products that you’ve seen?
- How many trash bags does your family throw away each week?
- Describe the lifestyle of yogurt man before he meets the green ninja. (what does he eat, what’s in his apartment, how much trash does he create, does he recycle)
- What are the first lifestyle changes that yogurt man makes after first meeting the green ninja?
- What is the set of changes Yogurt Man makes after encountering the Green Ninja for a second time?
- After they meet a third time, what life changes does the Yogurt Man make and/or experience?
- What skill does Yogurt Woman introduce to Yogurt Man?
- Create your own superhero—how can you reduce the packaging and waste that you generate? Pick one way and design your superhero logo.
- Take an inventory of your school lunch—what waste are you generating and how can you reduce that amount?
- What other lifestyle changes can you take to help the environment?
ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Answers will vary depending on student experience. Ask students to think of their lunches—plastic bags for sandwiches, yogurt containers, juice boxes, single use water bottles, granola bar wrappers, etc. Then ask them to think of their family—packaging for microwavable dinners, packaging for fruits and vegetables, bags and Styrofoam containers for take-out food.
- Single-use products are marketed for consumer convenience.
- Some examples might include individual packages of carrots or apples, single-serving containers of peanut butter/caramel/dressing for dipping, individually wrapped granola bars, snack packs of goldfish, small bags of potato chips, fruit roll-ups, and many more.
4. Answers will vary. From the Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce: The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960.
- Before he meets the green ninja, yogurt man buys many individual containers of yogurt at the grocery store, has only posters of his love for yogurt on his walls, accumulates a lot of waste, and does not recycle.
- He recycles his plastic containers, adds posters of the green ninja to his apartment, dresses as the Yogurt Man, replaces his waste bin with a recycling bin, has written recycle on his calendar, but he still eats individual containers of yogurt.
- He brings his own shopping bag to the store, he has written reuse on his calendar, there are now plants in his apartment, he is using his yogurt containers to make recycled art, and he no longer has plastic trash bags.
- He buys a large container of yogurt rather than individual containers, he has written reduce on his calendar (in addition to reuse and recycle), he meets another yogurt superhero (Yogurt Woman) and he has no waste in the end.
- Yogurt Woman makes homemade yogurt by adding milk and a little yogurt to reusable glass containers and applying heat.
- Answers will vary. Some examples might be Chips Woman, who vows to only buy chips in large bags, rather than small bags, or possibly the carrot avenger, who only buys carrots in bulk and carries them to school in reusable bags.
- Answers will vary. Students might ask their parents to buy foods in bulk and use reusable containers made out of plastic, glass or fabric. They might start to use a reusable water bottle.
- Answers will vary. Some ideas might include taking shorter showers, turning off lights when you leave a room, walking or riding your bike, carpooling, recycling, turning down the heat at bedtime and others.
ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
Have students do a packaging analysis. Ask them to bring in one unopened package from home to share and analyze with the class for function, aesthetics and necessity. A full write-up of this type of lesson can be found here.
Have the class make their own yogurt in class (or at home). Here is a sample recipe that came from this website.
Ingredients: 8 cups milk (any kind), 1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt, 0.50 ounces- 0.75 ounces plain gelatin (or three small packets)
Step 1: Plug in your crock pot and turn to low. Add milk, cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Step 2: Unplug your crock pot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.
Step 3: Scoop out 2 cups of the milk and whisk in the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Whisk in the store-bought yogurt. Dump the bowl contents back into the crock pot. Stir to combine. Put the lid back on your crock pot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy towel all the way around the crock for insulation. Let it sit for 8 hours. In the morning the yogurt will have thickened.
Ask students to do a quantitative analysis by comparing the mass difference between the trash that is generated by eating one 32 ounce container vs. that of eight single-serving 4 ounce containers.
Ask students to create a reusable sandwich bag for their school lunch (this can be made with fabric and fabric glue). These items are available at most hobby stores and many tutorials such as this one can be found online, ranging from simple to requiring a sewing machine.
Ask students to track their trash over the course of one week by maintaining a trash diary that is completed daily. After one week, have groups brainstorm ways to reduce waste output and develop a plan to implement with their families. Once the plan has been implemented for two weeks, ask students to again complete a trash diary and assess the differences between waste output pre- and post- plan implementation.
Facilitate an art project from used yogurt containers or other packaging materials. Have students create Christmas ornaments, household decorations or useful items for their families (such as a pencil holder).
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
All of the Preserve Products are made from recycled plastic, some of them specifically from yogurt containers!
Stonyfield yogurt is an example of a yogurt company that made a conscious decision to reduce the amount of plastic in their cups by switching from #2 to #5 plastic (a lighter plastic). This decision has resulted in the reduction of plastic use by the company by hundreds of tons of plastic per year. Not only is this less plastic and waste, but it also translates into fewer CO2 emissions from the shipping of this lighter product (fewer tons are shipped).
Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Lee Pruett.