Solid Waste


In observations, you make your own observations on your trash use and you will explore academic research on this topic.  From that information you will choose a hypothesis. For week 1 progressive project you complete these three times.

  1. To begin the lab, you will need to make general observations about your personal trash or solid waste. Consider the following questions:
  • How long does it take you to fill up one trash can/bag?
  • How many bags of trash do you fill up in a week?
  • What are the most common items in your trash (ieplastic, paper, food, metal)?
  • How many items that your throwaway are single use items like plastic silver, individual water bottles or individually packed snacks affect your behavior?
  • Where does your trash go after you put it into the trash can?
  • How does trash impact the environment?
  • Do you recycle or compost?
  • Are there any changes in your lifestyle or the things that you buy that would decrease how much trash you have?
  • Do you think you have more or less trash than your neighbors?

Reflect on your answers to these questions and summarize what your answers and thoughts into four sentences.


  1. Choose one article to read and summarize from the list provided.

Achieving Zero Waste in San Francisco: Successes and Challenges. (2020). Journal of International Affairs, 73(1), 285–290.

Docksai, R. (2014). A World without Waste? Futurist, 48(2), 16–20.

Haugh, J. A. (2011). Decisions, Decisions: Cleaning Up America’s Recycling Confusion. Harvard Kennedy School Review, 11, 32–37.

Williams, J., & Katz, S. (2014). Solid municipal waste audit analyses at Denver International Airport. Journal of Airport Management, 8(3), 197–205.

  1. Now it is time to make a hypothesis. Based on your observations above, choose a hypothesis below for this lab:
  2. I generate more waste, on average, than my peers.
  3. I generate less waste, on average, than my peers.
  4. I recycle more of my waste, on average, than my peers.
  5. I recycle less of my waste, on average, than my peers.

Submit these three items for the week 1 Progressive Project Assignment.

In the Week 3 and Week 5 assignments you will be collecting, weigh and recording your trash for 24 hours; then comparing it to that of your peers.

We will begin testing this hypothesis in week 3 and sharing the data you collect in week 4.


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