Reducing waste paper in school

Target: Mid-primary

Numeracy (NNS)/ Literacy (NLS) or other curriculum area focus/reference:

Numeracy Measures (Y4)

  • Use, read and write standard metric units
  • Know the equivalent of one half, one quarter, three quarters and one tenth of 1kg
  • Suggest suitable units and measuring equipment to estimate mass

Geographical enquiry and skills

  • Ask geographical questions
  • Collect and record evidence
  • Analyse evidence and draw conclusions

Knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development

  • Recognise how people can improve the environment or damage it
  • Recognise how and why people may seek to manage environments sustainably and to identify opportunities for their own involvement

Resources needed:

  • Schoolwaste paper
  • Scales
  • Weights
  • To consider the issues associated with waste paper thrown away in school
  • To draw up an action plan for reducing waste paper
  • To evaluate changes in attitude and behaviour by measuring the quantities of waste paper before and after the implementation of the action plan
  • NB This activity aims to reduce paper usage/wastage. The measurement of waste paper should therefore include any paper collected in class for recycling. Discussions on what happens to waste paper should include the recycling option and children should understand the preference of this option over landfill or incineration
Length: investigation and action over half a term

Description of Activity

1. Collect and weigh classroom waste paper for a week.
2. Multiply up to find out average amount of rubbish over a term - calculate the average amount of waste paper for all the classes over a term in the school.
3. Discuss effects of waste paper and investigating where rubbish goes: What problems occur? What are the implications when multiplied up in scale? Implications for trees, biodiversity etc. learn about landfill, incineration, recycling.
4. Discuss ways of reducing paper waste, e.g. using both sides before throwing away, careful cutting of paper to use only what is required, assessing activities which use paper to see if scraps can be used, using old paper for paper maché, or to make paper in class etc.
5. Ask children to devise six ways/actions to reduce paper waste.
6. Combine ideas to draw up an action plan for reducing waste paper in the class.
7. Measure paper waste at the end of half a term and see whether the amount used/wasted has been reduced.
Areas of Oxfam Curriculum for Global Citizenship addressed by activity
Knowledge and Understanding
Values and Attitudes
Social justice and equity Critical thinking Sense of identity and self-esteem
Diversity Ability to argue effectively Empathy and sense of common humanity
Globalisation and Interdependence Ability to challenge injustice & inequalities Commitment to social justice and equity
Sustainable development Respect for people and things Valuing and respecting diversity*
Peace and conflict Co-operation and conflict resolution Concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable development
Belief that people can make a difference


Follow-up/Further ideas/Homework

  • Design posters promoting successful ideas for reducing waste paper and display around school
  • Produce bar charts of the weight of waste paper before and after the action plan· Investigate community recycling schemes