May 6: Rubbish

What happens to nature’s rubbish? Let’s find out…

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • The grandmother mentioned in the article had only about 12 items on her monthly shopping list—including flour, sugar and floor polish. She made everything else – even toothpaste, shampoo and soap. Did you know it was possible to get by with buying so few items? What skills must the grandmother have had that most people don’t have today? Why don’t more people make things like shampoo?
  • In 25 years, the amount of rubbish created by the average New Zealander has skyrocketed—by 73%. Why might we create so much more rubbish than we did 25 or 30 years ago?
  • Every month, New Zealand’s rubbish fills up a rugby field that is 30 stories high. Can you imagine a rubbish pile this big? What about a pile of rubbish that was the size of 30 rugby fields?
  • Three quarters of the rubbish that New Zealanders send to the tip could have been re-used, recycled or recovered. Why do you think people throw things away rather than doing this? Can you think of any ways we could get our society to throw away less things?
  • Has your family made any efforts to cut down the amount of rubbish you send to landfill? Think about what you regularly buy—are there any items on that list that are not recyclable? Could you find another way to make or source this food? What changes would you need to make in your family to try to make less rubbish?

Task—Leaf Skeleton Hunt

Human-made rubbish lasts hundreds of years. By comparison, it is great to look closely nature’s amazing ability to biodegrade and recycle nutrients. Go on a leaf-skeleton hunt and collect a range of leaves—from freshly fallen, to partly decomposed, to skeletons if you can find any.

Arrange them on paper—glue them on if you want to or just look at the amazing process the leaves undergo as they lie on the ground.

If you find any pretty coloured leaves you can hang them on a window to catch the light.

  1. Collect some pretty leaves and make a small hole at the top of each leaf (a needle makes a suitable hole.)
  2. Take a length of elastic and knot one end.
  3. Poke the elastic through the hole of each leaf, leaving a gap between each.
  4. Knot the other end of the elastic.
  5. Stick the two ends of the garland onto the window with tape or blu-tack.

Send us a picture of your leaf skeleton hunt!