What a Dump!


“Feed people, not landfills”, different campaigns keep urging. Indeed, up to 50% of the food we eat gets thrown away in the garbage by consumers in the US and Europe. But isn’t this ironic in a world with approximately 795 million people that do not have enough food to live a healthy life? If we visit a landfill in many countries, especially in developing countries, we will inevitably come across children foraging the dump for food. And in these mountains of waste, there is actually really good stuff! From nice picnic tables to awesome comfy sofas - it is all there!

Every piece of the garbage travels a road, either of fast or slow destruction. OR - the road of reuse.

So this is going to be a detective story. In this activity, we are going to find out what happens to the waste we have just thrown away in the bin before it ends up in the landfill.

Activity Type

Group or Individual / Experiential


1 day

Learning Outcomes

  • To experience how waste is processed in our neighbourhood / region

  • To learn about the basic steps of municipal waste management

  • To gain awareness of waste management challenges and impacts


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Decide which things you want to spy on - is it going to be a specific item (or a few) going to your trash bin?

  2. Follow! We suggest using legal means - like, contacting the local waste management company and making an appointment to familiarize yourself with the waste management procedures. It can be turned into an educational family trip or excursion with your friends. If visiting the facility does not work out, do a telephone interview or research on the internet to find out as much information about the destiny of the waste as possible.  

  3. Try to reach the final arrival point of the product you are spying on - whether it is a dump or an incineration facility or the place where it is transformed into a new product.



  • Write a short story about the journey of your waste.

  • What was your experience like with the local waste management company?

  • What could be improved in the local waste management?

  • Did you get any surprises about the journey of your waste, compared to the picture you had before?

Instructions for Submission

Submit your written reflection and upload a photo of the final arrival point of your trash, so that your peers can give you feedback. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

Tried an activity? Give us feedback!

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