Skip to main content

Trash hack action learning for sustainable development: a teacher's guide

  • Published on February 25, 2022

The guide is intended for lower-secondary education teachers, school administrators, staff and informal educators looking for ways to engage learners and communities around trash, waste management and, more widely, education for sustainable development. The guide’s contents and activities can be adjusted for older or younger ages.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 and provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)  gives people the tools to tackle the problems of the present and future, to fight the climate crisis, change the world and achieve the SDGs. ESD rethinks what we learn, where we learn and how we learn. It is about lifelong learning, which lets people develop the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that enable them to make informed decisions and actions on global problems.The action-based activities in this guide intend to contribute to fostering the three dimensions of learning (cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural) and thereby promoting cross-cutting competencies for the SDGs,such as systems thinking, anticipatory competency, collaboration, critical thinking and integrated problem-solving.

There's a specific subtitle for the SDG 12:


We need to urgently rethink how we, as humans, consume the world’s resources, and how that impacts the rights of other living beings on the planet. A large share of people in the world's population is consuming too much, while others don't have enough to meet their basic needs. The exhaustion of the world’s resources and changes to the earth’s climate by humans endanger not just our own but the survival of all other living beings. In nature there is no waste. A leaf which falls from a tree feeds the forest floor. The body of a decomposing animal feeds other creatures and the soil. Humans have disrupted this cycle, seeing the mastery of nature as a necessity for growth and proof of progress. At its core, responsible consumption and production reassesses this assumption and encourages us to re-situate ourselves within the natural cycle of our planet, for the sake of the lives of all its inhabitants. Solving the waste problem and the climate crisis requires personal change but , much more importantly, it requires structural and systemic change. Because 80% of environmental impact is determined by decisions made in the production of goods, industries need to redesign supply chains, use less energy, water and other natural resources and decrease pollution. We need to create a consensus in society that we should not destroy our homes and demand that governments, institutions, corporations and industries make this their first priority. As global citizens and consumers we can have an important influence to bring about such consensus and systemic change. We can take political action: vote for environmentally-minded politicians and parties, start or sign petitions, support campaigns and participate in demonstrations. We can wage influence as consumers by informing ourselves about what we consume and avoid products that harm people, animals or the environment and put value on living within the means of our planet. Such actions can be an important contributor to constructing meaning and purpose, individually and collectively, and to building a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.

External source(s)

More on this

You might also be Interested in