Recycling Is Garbage

New York Times, By John Tierney, June 30, 1996

Image from PIXABAY

PIXABAY image AS THEY PUT ON PLASTIC GLOVES FOR THEIR first litter hunt, the third graders knew what to expect. They knew their garbage. It was part of their science curriculum at Bridges Elementary, a public school on West 17th Street in Manhattan. They had learned the Three R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — and discussed how to stop their parents from using paper plates. For Earth Day they had read a Scholastic science publication, “Inside the World of Trash.” For homework, they had kept garbage diaries and drawn color-coded charts of their families’ trash. So they were primed for the field experiment on this May afternoon.

“We have to help the earth,” Natasha Newman explained as she and her classmates dashed around the school collecting specimens. Their science teacher, Linnette Aponte, mediated disputes — “I saw that gum wrapper first!” — and supervised the subsequent analysis of data back in the classroom. The students gathered around to watch her dump out their bags on the floor.

Do you see any pattern as I’m emptying it?” Miss Aponte asked.

“Yeah, it stinks.”

“Everybody’s chewing Winterfresh.”

“A lot of paper napkins.”

“It’s disgusting.”

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