Don’t Dump It, Recycle It: Free Recycling Lesson Plan

May 17, 2021 | Amanda Wall

The Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program is proud to share an originally commissioned lesson plan for youth and young adults to learn about recycling, the impact of illegal dumping and what happens to waste in a landfill.

MRC worked with a local teacher and environmental justice advocate in Fresno, California, to develop a series of activities that help students become more observant of their own household waste generation and discover how to recycle items that cannot be placed inside of a bin, like mattresses. Along the way, they learn about the impact of illegal dumping on the environment and what happens to recyclable materials that are landfilled instead.

“Combatting illegal dumping takes a comprehensive approach from all aspects of society,” said Taylor Grimes, MRC’s California Special Projects Coordinator and administrator of its Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative. “We hope this lesson plan helps those that can influence the behavior of youth and young adults to value environmental stewardship and to understand the impact they make when they choose to recycle.”

The project was started in late 2020 with the goals of:

  • Empowering students with basic knowledge of how they can help their communities
  • Increasing students’ awareness about taking responsibility of their own waste
  • Understanding the impacts of illegal dumping on the natural environment
  • Helping students understand how to properly dispose of a mattress
  • Inspiring civic and environmental efficacy

The lesson plan can be used in school settings and with afterschool programs and youth-based groups too. Nyamin Martinez, Executive Director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network and leader of its environmental justice student program, Fresno YES! (Youth Environmentally Savvy) got a first peek at the lesson plan.

“Educating youth and community members on the multiple problems that illegal dumping causes, the resources available for them to prevent illegal dumping, and most importantly the benefits of recycling and reducing our waste generation, is vital to make our communities healthier, more sustainable and resilient,” Martinez said. She plans to use the lesson plan with her next cohort this summer.

Teachers, volunteers and educational leaders are encouraged to download, share and print the free lesson plan available on MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress program website.