Family Archaeology

In science class, you have been studying renewable and nonrenewable resources. Suppose an archaeologist in the future decides to study your trash to learn how your family uses resources. What might the archaeologist find? Try this activity!



Put on a pair of rubber gloves or old work gloves. With an adult's help, empty the contents of one average bag of trash from your home in your backyard, driveway, or other outdoor area. Your job is to sort each piece of trash into one of the three categories on the chart. Remember, plastics come from fossil fuels, so they would belong in the “Nonrenewable” category. Metals are considered nonrenewable, and paper products are renewable wood products. When you have finished, count the number of items in each category. Multiply those numbers by the total number of similar trash bags you use each week. If you recycle items, make a similar record for one bag of such recyclables. Multiply the number of recycled items by the number of loads you recycle per week.

Renewable Resources Nonrenewable Resources Mixed or Uncertain Resources


Which kind of resources, renewable or nonrenewable, did you use the most? Can you think of better ways to measure the amounts of the various kinds of trash? What do you think a future archaeologist would conclude about how your family uses resources?