Lesson Series
My Journey to Zero Waste

My Journey to Zero Waste

Lesson Series Summary

Unit Overview

Through readings, activities, and discussions, students compare and contrast two birthday parties (one that generated a lot of waste and one planned around “zero waste”), consider the environmental impact of one’s personal waste, gain an understanding of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and learn to practice zero waste in their own lives.


  • Kindergarten
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2

Project Type

In-class or online lesson

Environmental Topics

Environmental Justice, Green Guardianship, Pollution, Resource Conservation, Waste Management

Environmental Literacy Core Principles

For a summary of the environmental literacy principles and concepts embedded in this lesson series, please visit Green Guardians Environmental Literacy Core Principles.


ELA: RL.K.1, RL.K.2, RL.1.1, RL.1.2, RL.2.1, RL.2.2, RL.2.3, W.K.2, W.K.8, W.1.2, W.1.8, W.2.2, W.2.8, SL.K.1, SL.K.5, SL.K.6, SL.1.5, SL.1.1, SL.2.1, SL.2.2, SL.2.3
Math: K.OA.A.1, K.MD.B.3, 1.NBT.A.1, 1.MD.C.4, 2.OA.A.1, 2.MD.D.10
Science: K-ESS2-2, K-ESS3-1, K-ESS3-3, K-2-ETS1-1


Teacher Guide

This project may easily be extended into optional family discussions and activities around environmental literacy. To facilitate this engagement, a family guide (in English and Spanish) has been created which teachers may choose to forward to interested parents and guardians.

Family Guide (English)

Family Guide (Spanish)


Five lessons of 30-40 minutes each.

Lesson 1: After the Party

Through a story and related activities, students discuss the cleanup
experience after a character’s wasteful birthday party and define
waste. They begin to question how and why we waste things and
what steps we can take to reduce waste.

Lesson 2: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Through a story and related activities, students revisit the cleanup
after the wasteful party and discuss how the waste the characters
made could have been reduced, reused, and/or recycled.

Lesson Materials

Lesson 3: A Zero Waste Party

Through a story and related activities, students learn about zero
waste and discuss how the characters plan and participate in a zero
birthday party.

Lesson Materials

Lesson 4: What Do I Throw Away?

Through counting and graphing activities, students calculate and
discuss the types of waste a character creates in his daily life and how he can reduce, reuse, and recycle it. Then they fill in a picture graph on
what they themselves throw away.

Lesson Materials

Lesson 5: My Zero Waste Poster

Through a collaborative graphing and drawing activity, students work
with partners to fill in a picture graph and calculate the kinds of
waste they throw away in a day. They create a poster detailing
actions they can take to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Lesson Materials

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