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  • Writer's pictureYouth Energy Squad

RECYCLING 101; The more you know!

Context: According to the EPA, the average American person will produce about 5.91 pounds of trash, with about 1.51 pounds being recycled; and 4.4 pounds going to landfill.. That's a lot! Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling has been presented as a way out of the trash cycle we created for ourselves. But is recycling the best solution for our waste?



  • Single-stream recycling refers to a system in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the depositor into separate commodities and handled separately throughout the collection process.

  • Multi-stream recycling is a collection method in which waste generators are required to source separate recyclables into two (or more) separate bins (generally, paper fibers are placed in one bin and all other containers (plastics, aluminum, etc.) are placed in other bins).



  • Examine the current state of recycling in the US

Age Group:7th-12th grade

Time: 40 minutes


  • Internet Access

  • An open mind


Instructions: Watch the videos and answer the questions to get a better view and perspective on the state of recycling,

Watch the following video for a context view on recycling.

Then watch the video:

Then finish with this video:

Optional Video;


Reflection Questions

  • What have you heard about recycling? Do you recycle?

  • What happens when you recycle based on the videos? Where does it go?

  • What do you know about recycling where you live?

  • What are alternatives to recycling or throwing away items?

  • What were the impacts of single-stream recycling? How is multi-stream recycling different?

  • What international changes impacted recycling in the US? How could the US avoid those impacts?

  • As discussed in the video, how are cities like San Francisco making changes to reduce waste in landfills? How might Detroit follow their lead?

  • Before watching this, how important did you think recycling was? How do you feel about recycling now? How do you feel about waste now?

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