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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies

Resource Type

  • Videos, 3 minutes, 49 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States


YouTube Video

Why You're Recycling Wrong

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  • This Vox video explores how difficult it is for people to decide what to recycle and what not to recycle.
  • It shows people's habits when it comes to recycling, the varying recycling programs in the United States, and the lessons learned in order to prevent recycling contamination and aspirational recycling.
Teaching Tips


  • Through the questions asked in the video, students will understand that it mirrors their reality and will try to think about a solution and reflect on the lesson at the end of the video. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students must be familiar with the recycling process and because recycling varies by location, you should get familiar with what is and is not recyclable in your area.
  • There may be an ad at the beginning of the video.


  • The teacher could start with the same question for the students to find out about their habits in recycling.
  • Students could develop an action plan defining how they could positively influence recycling in their communities, as ambassadors for recycling.
  • In social studies classes, teachers could use this video to create a "What do we do with our waste?" chart for a lesson about recycling.
  • Other resources related to this topic include Sea of Plastic and Zero Food Waste Challenge.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 4-minute video that examines the complexity in deciding what materials are recyclable and which are garbage. The influence of single stream recycling is briefly presented, and some actions to improve the situation are presented. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.6-8 Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
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