Where Does Our Garbage Go? A Look at a Landfill
4th & 5th grade
Objective: To help students become aware of what happens to our waste after we throw it away
and know the features of a modern landfill.
Concepts: Students will learn exactly what happens to the things we throw away through a 2530 minute interactive presentation where we follow our garbage’s journey from the curb to the
landfill. Students will understand why and how landfills are different from dumps of the past.
We will share photos and a model of Milner Butte Landfill, as well as the liner system inside of
it that isolates our waste to protect our environment. Students will understand, using the visual
aid of a “Garbage Pizza” (pie chart) what makes up our waste stream and why it is important to
keep waste out of the landfill by reuse, recycling, and diversion.
Landfill - A carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground in which trash is
isolated from the surrounding environment. This isolation is done with a bottom liner and daily
covering of soil.
Solid Waste – Solid waste is a term for the items we discard that enter the landfill.
Groundwater Contamination - Groundwater contamination occurs when hazardous substances
come into contact and dissolve in the water.
Leachate – The “garbage juice” that results from rainwater leaking through garbage.
Decompose - To rot.
Methane Gas – Methane gas is a result of decomposing waste in a landfill. It is highly
flammable and must be removed in order to prevent dangerous fires and explosions. In order to
remove this gas, the landfill has a system of pipes built into it.