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Litterless Lunch

In this activity, students save the garbage from their lunches, sort it into different bins and analyze their findings to determine how much waste the average lunch creates.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the average North American will produce 600 times their own weight in garbage over their lifetime. A person who weighs 68 kilograms will leave behind a 40,825 kilogram trash legacy.

By altering daily practices, such how an individual packs their lunch for school or work, a significant amount of waste can be prevented from entering the landfill.

After the sort the class is guided through establishing "litterless lunch goals" and works together to accomplish these goals to reduce their lunchtime waste.


  • Identify the waste that they are personally responsible for.

  • Identify the collective amount of waste produced by their school’s students and staff.

  • Establish goals for waste reduction within their classroom and for the entire school.

  • Engage with their own families and their community about packing a litter-free lunch and help to create easy and effective waste reduction strategies for their classroom and home.


  • Per Class or Group:
    empty waste bin
    rubber gloves for participating students
    bathroom scale
    several smaller containers
    pen & paper

Key Questions

  • What kind of garbage is the most common?
  • How can we reduce the amount of litter in our lunches?

What To Do

  1. Set an empty waste bin in a prominent place in the classroom.
  2. Ask students to deposit the trash from their lunch into the empty waste bin.
  3. Once all of the lunch waste has been collected, spread a tarp out on the classroom floor (or outside).
  4. Ask students to make observations about the waste on the tarp.
  5. Have students sort the materials on the tarp into three piles: recyclables, compostables, and garbage. If possible, have students place recyclables and compostables into appropriate final containers.
  6. Weigh the total garbage collected with the bathroom scale.
  7. Record all findings and observations. Take photos!
  8. Repeat sorting and recording activity in three months’ time. Compare the results!


  • Discuss litter legacies and have students write letters to their parents asking for a litter-free lunch.
  • Sign up for Waste Reduction Week.
  • Have students expand the litterless lunch program to include other classes.
  • Have students expand the litterless lunch program to include the staff room. Ask students to guide teachers through the sorting process.
  • Begin a competition between classes or between students and teachers for which group can have the most litter-free lunches.
  • Document your green journey by entering BC Green Games.

Other Resources

MetroVancouver | Single-Use Item Reduction Tool Kit

Science World | BC Green Games