Can a Lack of Water Cause Joint Pain?
- Despite the fact that the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world's population, it generates 30 percent of its trash, with the average U.S. citizen generating 7 pounds of garbage per day. An important part of living more sustainably requires throwing away less garbage (See References 1). To learn more about green living, students should confront the question: Where is "away"? Begin the year by burying different types of trash and observing what happens to it throughout the year--what decomposes and what remains unchanged? Schedule a field trip to a local landfill so that students can see where garbage goes when it goes "away." As a class, collect and weigh the trash you generate in school during the week. Have the students weigh and sort the garbage at the end of the week, then propose ways that the class might reduce the amount of trash it generates. Put some of these ideas into practice and keep weighing your trash every week to see which changes produce the greatest effect and to show the students the difference that even small changes can make.
- Just over 25 percent of the energy used in the U.S. goes toward transportation, indicating that cutting back on driving is one major way to go green. Like with garbage generation, driving is such a heavy part of U.S. culture that most people don't even think about it or its impact (See References 2). Begin by having students track the miles they travel during the week, the type of vehicle they are traveling in--for example, a minivan or a school bus--and the number of other passengers. As a class, brainstorm ways that people can cut back on the amount of driving they have to do and have the students develop projects for cutting back on driving. For example, students might set up a carpool schedule for an after-school activity or start asking neighbors if they can pick up anything while out on routine errands.
History of Food
- In his award-winning book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael Pollan attempted to trace the history of his food, locating its origins and learning how it was made. He discovered that food often travels enormous distances from producer to consumer and is produced using less than sustainable methods (See References 3). In this activity, students will attempt to answer the question of what is in their food, how it is made and where it comes from. Students vote to select a popular snack or convenience food to research and work in teams to learn about each of its ingredients, how and where it is made and from what. Students should consider the energy necessary to produce and transport an ingredient, any pollution that it generates and what positive effect production of the ingredient might have on the environment. Students combine their research into a final class project, evaluate the environmental impact of producing the product and write a letter to the company that produces it, offering advice for making the product more sustainable.