Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic

Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Global Issues PBL Unit: Garbage, Landfills, Recycling, Plastic
Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
Product Rating
4 Ratings
File Type

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7 MB|62 pages + 35 slides
Product Description
Explore in this unit the increasingly urgent problem of our world’s biggest growing problem: garbage. Everything from landfills to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to single-use disposable plastics to zero-waste lifestyles is covered!

Grab their attention with shocking numbers, make it real with documentaries and eye-opening EPA graphs, guide them to dig deeper with news articles and current issues research, inspire them by exploring various garbage-free alternative, and help them spread change to their schoolmates.

By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:
- Internalize the enormity of their own, America’s, and the world’s growing garbage footprint
- Assess various data of how the modern world is only exacerbating this problem
- Articulate a wide variety of current issues affecting our creation and handling of garbage
- Explore how experts and everyday people alike have committed to lessening their garbage footprint
- Research and share with their school doable solutions to lessen their consumption


Greatness is believing in the power of one person’s choices to impact the world.

Few teenagers know the world beyond their own surroundings and many have no idea how their lifestyle, their consumption levels, their “normal” behavior negatively impacts our environment and our planet’s future.

Guide your students through a variety of sources (from graphs and photos to documentaries and news articles) as they grapple with the self-realizing question: “How can I lessen my garbage footprint to better sustain this planet for others?”

You will set each of your students up for success in this high interest, multi-faceted project-based unit, regardless of ability, with highly scaffolded graphic organizers, student directions, and supplemental resources included at each step of the way.

Empower your students to become eco-aware world citizens in this 3-week unit!

Activities are completely interchangeable- mix and match depending on time constraints, student ability, or personal interests.

Included in this unit:

Teacher Materials
- Unit overview and 5 additional pages of detailed daily lesson plans
- Step-by-step directions for activities, many with multiple format options for your customization
- Answer keys for assignments and rubrics for projects and essay (both CCSS-aligned and generic)
- 35-slide editable PowerPoint slideshow with images, links, and student directions

Student Materials & Activities
- How Well Do You Know Garbage Test to shock students’ incoming knowledge
- Human Footprint Documentary Analysis to witness the sheer quantity of resources the average American consumes in a lifetime
- Garbage Data Analysis to see the massive garbage produced in America through various EPA graphs
- Where is “Away”? to look inside some of the world’s largest landfills
- Current Issues Analysis to dig deeper into a variety of present-day garbage issues, from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to recycling
- Bag It Documentary Analysis to follow one man’s journey to tackle plastic bags
- Money Can’t Buy Happiness to learn from scientists on the real sources of joy (hint: it’s not stuff)
- Be the Solution Project to research the waste produced by common consumer products and share doable changes with classmates in a bulletin board (complete with accompanying signage)
- DBQ Essay to culminate learning from the wide variety of sources examined by answering, “How can I best reduce my garbage footprint?”
- 3 BONUS Skill Sheets Annotating a Text, Annotating a Citation, Analyzing a News Media Source


Note to Homeschoolers

Though the included teacher lesson plans and PPT slides are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:

- the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized sources are free or inexpensive and easily obtainable; either included, accessible online, available at your local library, or purchased used through Amazon (links provided)
- this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest


Want more Sustainability PBL units?
Water PBL Unit: explore the problems and solutions in maintaining this finite resource
Fossil Fuel PBL Unit: explore the problems and solutions of our favorite addiction- oil
Sustainability Bundle PBL Unit: explore water, fossil fuels, and garbage in one cohesive unit, saving you 25%!

Check out these other Global Issues PBL units!
World Population PBL Unit: explore worldwide population numbers, extreme poverty, and demographics
--- World Poverty PBL Mini Unit: explore what living on one dollar a day really looks like

Globalization PBL Unit: explore the growth and shrinking of our global population, connectivity, and resources
--- Globalization PBL Mini Unit: explore all the same topics in about half the time
--- Competing in a Flat World PBL Mini Unit: explore the flattening of the world’s economy
--- What’s My Eco Footprint PBL Mini Unit: explore the impact of one’s footprint in comparison to the world’s

Building a Global Issues or Geography curriculum from scratch?
Global Issues Course Bundle get this complete semester-long course in one download and save big!
Total Pages
62 pages + 35 slides
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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