StopWaste at School


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Project Create

Project Create was developed in 1998 by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse with funding from the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (StopWaste.Org). The mission of Project Create was to increase the awareness about how much is thrown away and to affect a life-long commitement to sustainable, responsible, waste-reduction attitudes and behavior. To do this, the East Bay Depot provided activity kits with instructions and materials from commonly discarded items found at home or school. Activities from Project Create have been digitized here for download and we hope that you find them as useful and relevant today as when they were first created. To learn more about the East Bay Depot For Creative Reuse's current educator programs visit:

Project Create Now Online

Project CreateProject CreateDear Educator-

The Project Create activities were developed in the 1990's when waste-reduction was surfacing as an important and necessary component of students' education. StopWaste.Org (formerly the Alameda County Waste Management Authority) funded the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse to develop and implement a program, including a set of activities for upper elementary to middle school students.

The Project Create curricula centered on reuse, second only to "reduce" in the hierarchy of solid waste management. The activities sought to educate, entertain and motivate students to be life-long waste reducers.

The Project Create activities are relevant today. As we gain awareness of the need for conscious consumption and disposal, and develop systems for dealing with waste responsibly, we are also continuing to consume and produce more discards.

The Project Create activities educate students about the amount of garbage they produce and how to reduce its impact on the environment. Several activities involve students in using discarded material to create something fun, useful or beautiful. Many of them engage students in math, and some introduce students to international crafts. Materials lists and teaching guides are included in each activity write up.

The Project Create activities can be presented as a unit on waste management or as stand-alone activities. They are easy to modify for younger or older students. Even adults can enjoy them!

The Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project will post at least one activity from Project Create each week until the entire curriculum is available online. We hope that you enjoy these materials and are able to give them new life in your classroom using the free downloads available here.


Cynthia Ashley- Former Director of Project Create
Natasha Stillman - Education Coordinator, East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

Awareness Activities

The Project Create Awareness Activities are designed to heighten students' knowledge and understanding of the environmental impact of garbage, and to help them develop healthy attitudes and practices that result in waste reduction.

All the activities involve students directly in learning. Activities are designed to enhance creative and critical thinking skills, to be fun, and educational, and use inexpensive, easy-to-obtain materials to model creative reuse.

Although the Project Create activities have been developed for use in class, they can also be used by parents, community and scout leaders, camp and recreation program leaders.


Click for SampleClick for SampleGarbage Dump - Students explore how much we throw away and what kinds of items make up our trash. They sort clean trash into the 4R categories: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Students become familiar with the concept of "materials reuse" by working together to come up with several ways a specific discarded item can be reused.


pdfGarbage Dump207.41 KB 



Click for SampleClick for SampleCover the Earth With Garbage - To increase their awareness of the need to reduce waste, students calculate the amount of garbage the class accumulates in one month. ·They construct a model representing this amount using large paper grocery bags, and discover how they might shrink this garbage heap by reducing, reusing, recycling and composting. Students analyze the impact our current diversion practices are having on the amount of garbage going into the landfill. Is it enough? If not, what can each of us do to increase waste diversion?


pdfCover the Earth With Garbage361.33 KB 

pdfSupplemental Letter to Parents about this activity22.73 KB

Creative Reuse Activities

Creative reuse activities are designed to follow on the heels of Waste Awareness Activities. They involve students in creating something out of discarded material that is useful, beautiful, and educational.

Each creative reuse activity is designed to be integrated into a teacher's ongoing curriculum, either as a science, math, music, art, or social studies lesson. The activities are written to include content on these areas of the curriculum as well as specific directions on how to make each item.

Creative Reuse Activity Curriculum Compatibility
Exploring and Making Kaleidoscopes Science, Art
Rain Sticks Social Studies, Music, Art
Whirlpool-in-a-Bottle Science
Shadow Puppets Language, Science, Social Studies, Art
Masks-on-a-Stick Social Studies, Art
Recycled Round Paper Science, Art, Math

Creative reuse activities are a way for students to demonstrate environmental responsibility; they are also an educational and artistic tool to be integrated into their everyday life.


Click for SampleClick for SampleExploring and Making Kaleidoscopes Students learn the basic science of a kaleidoscope. They explore waste reduction through creative reuse by making their own kaleidoscope using common discarded material.



pdfExploring and Making Kaleidoscopes195.83 KB 


Click for SampleClick for SampleRain Sticks After learning about the origins and significance of rain sticks, and investigating how a rain stick works, students make their own using common discarded material.



pdfRain Sticks154.84 KB 


Click for SampleClick for SampleWhirlpool-in-a-Bottle Students learn about vortices by constructing a device for creating and observing whirlpools inside discarded plastic bottles. The sight of funneling water, formed by the interplay of air currents and centripetal force, provides the opportunity for a guided discovery of this fascinating phenomenon. After making their own Whirlpool-in-a-Bottle, and observing vortices form inside, students expand their understanding of naturally occurring vortices such as whirlpools and tornadoes.


pdfWhirlpool in a Bottle255.38 KB


Click for SampleClick for SampleShadow Puppet Theater In this multi-session activity, students learn about shadow puppet theater and explore the science of shadow-making. They make their own shadow puppets using common discarded materials and produce a shadow puppet play with their hand-made puppets.


pdfShadow Puppets445.24 KB



Click for SampleClick for SampleMasks-on-a-Stick Students explore how masks have been used through time, and what uses they serve today. They learn how to reuse materials in the creation of their own fanciful masks. After conceptualizing what their masks will represent, students us templates to transfer the idea onto file-folders. They embellish the masks with discarded items such as bottle caps, tin foil, buttons and fabric scraps, and attach them to a stick of scrap wood so the masks can be held in front of their faces.


pdfMasks on a Stick150.61 KB


Click for SampleClick for SampleRecycled Round Paper Students learn about the origin of paper, how it has been made through the centuries, and how much its consumption has increased in recent years. They discover that paper contributes to almost 40% of landfill waste despite the fact that it is easy to recycle. Students make their own recycled paper using discarded paper scraps to create the pulp and large tin cans as molds to form the pieces.


pdfRecycled Round Paper264.27 KB