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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

A Look at a Landfill

Lesson Description:
  • Identify and describe the role of an MSW landfill in a solid waste management plan.
  • Identify and describe the structure and function of an MSW landfill.
  • Justify the importance of enforcing strict environmental standards when constructing MSW landfills.

Lesson Type:
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Waste Reduction

GEF Program Category:
  • Waste Reduction Challenge

Time Needed:
50 minutes
Standards Addressed:
Geography Standard 15: Understand how physical systems affect human systems.
  • Benchmark # 1: Know ways in which human systems develop in response to conditions in the physical environment (e.g., site selection for a landfill in relation to water supplies).
  • Benchmark # 4: Understand relationships between population density and environmental quality (e.g., the denser the population the greater the amount of waste produced).

Geography Standard 16: Understand the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources.
  • Benchmark # 2: Know strategies for wise management and use of resources (e.g., community programs for recycling and reuse).
  • Benchmark # 5: Understand the role of technology in resource acquisition and use, and its impact on the environment (e.g., rates of resource consumption among countries of high or low levels of technology).

Geography Standard 18: Understand global development and environmental issues.
  • Benchmark # 2: Understand the possible impact that present conditions and patterns of consumption, production and population growth might have on the future spatial organization of Earth.
  • Benchmark # 4: Understand why different points of view exist regarding contemporary geographic issues (e.g., the UK managing 90% of their solid waste by burying it in landfills as opposed to other countries who are reducing their landfill usage).

Technology Standard 3: Understand the relationship among science, technology, society and the individual.
  • Benchmark # 3: Know ways in which technology has influenced the course of history (e.g., improvements in sanitation and waste management- garbage dump vs. sanitary landfill).

Health Standard 2: Know environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health.
  • Benchmark # 3: Know ways local, state, federal and international efforts to contain an environmental crisis and prevent recurrence (e.g., solid waste contamination).

Materials Needed:
  • MSW Landfill sketch provided below
  • Matching handout provided below
  • Environmental Impact Study worksheet provided below
  • Chart paper
  • Poster marker
  • Colored pencils
  • Paper, both manila art paper and writing paper

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf ALookAtaLandfill.pdf
Located in: Science | Health | Social Studies

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