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Waste Not, Want Not

Part of Earth Week

Wasteful Packaging

Before 2014 Scotland used 800 million plastic bags every year!
Then in 2014 the Scottish government added a levy on plastic bags to help reduce this excessive number. Has it worked? Short answer, YES!
Since the charges have been put into place the number of plastic bags used has been reduced by 80% - that’s a reduction of a whopping 640,000,000 bags!

So why is this significant, and why is it important to cut down our use of plastic bags?
These massive numbers reinforce the belief that we live in a ‘throwaway’ society. It is very important to know that these used bags have to go somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ is usually a landfill site.

Today you are going to investigate how long different types of bags last in landfill.
This piece of investigative work will take place over a long period of time, so you will have to be patient.

Our How Long Does a Plastic Bag Last in Landfill? worksheet (PDF) will explain the steps to set up this investigation as well as giving you a template for recording your results as well as writing up your findings, again, this investigation has to happen over a number of months - the longer you spend collecting results the better your investigation will be.

Food Packaging

Food packaging is important as it has a number of roles including:

  • protection
  • informative
  • preserving
  • tamperproof
  • hygienic
  • safety
  • attractive

However, in some instances, excess packaging is used unnecessarily and all it does is add to landfill sites.

Here is an important question for you… What is the Courtauld Commitment? If you don’t know we would love for your to do some research and find out.

Now we would like you to look at this Packaging Worksheet (PDF) and decide in each case if the packaging is:

  • Perfect
  • ok, but a small change could make it more environmentally friendly
  • quite a lot of waste, ways of changing should be investigated
  • far too much excessive packaging, must be changed immediately

In what ways do YOU think these products could be repackaged to reduce wastefulness?

You can do your own investigation into packaging by looking at what your family buys the next time at the supermarket and identifying a product with excess wasteful packaging. You can design more environmentally appropriate packaging - remember to use materials that are recycled and can be recycled again!
Present your findings in a poster and let us see!


We all like a challenge and this is a cracker - no pun intended!

The instructions are found in this Packaging Challenge Worksheet (PDF) and we are excited to see how you get on, send in a video if you can - we’d even like to see your bloopers!

Plastic bags

Wasteful Packaging

Challenge Protection

This page is part of the Earth Week information.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.