Landfill Salads

Landfill Salads

Adapted from: FoodShare Waste in Our Food Systems Facilitator Guide
Target Age: Elementary (grade 1-4)
Key Learning Goals: Understand how landfills work, why it’s important to reduce our waste
Equipment Necessary: Grated raw beets and other salad vegetables (for ‘garbage’), cooked grains (for ‘soil’), salad dressing (for ‘waterways), plates, forks
Activity Type: Lunchtime educational discussion.


Discussion Questions

1. Where does our garbage go after we throw it away?

  • Landfills- Piles of garbage that are buried underground to form mountains of garbage

2. Why might this be harmful to the environment?

  • The land needs to be cleared (called “de-forestation”) to create the landfill in the first place
  • The animals relying on that habitat have to leave because they’ve lost their home or they get sick from all the junk and pollution
  • There is a loss of biodiversity of plants and animals due to deforestation
  • The garbage starts to break down over time, oozing hazardous waste into surrounding waterways and soil
  • The decomposing garbage releases gases such as methane and CO2 (known Greenhouse gases) into the air

Making Landfill Salads

  1. Hand out a bowl or plate to each student
  2. First, they need to add their garbage, which in this case is freshly grated (this is important for maximum “bleeding”) raw purple beet and any other salad ingredients.
  3. Next, add your soil to cover up your landfill. This can be any light-colored, cooked whole grain such as quinoa, rice or barley.
  4. Now we need some surrounding waterways. This will be your salad dressing. Add this to your salad. Waterways travel underground in what’s called the “water table.” Over time, the garbage in your landfill continues to break down at different rates, depending on what it is. You landfill shifts and moves over time. Stir up your landfill salad to see what happens
  5. Your students should notice the “bleeding” of the purple color from the beets throughout their other salad ingredients (including the soil and the water). This is what happens in real life too as the garbage mixes with the surrounding environment.
  6. Does it have a smell? What does it smell like? Oh no! The air has been polluted too!
  7. Eat and enjoy your salads together!