How and What Does Nature Recycle Naturally?

Some types of trash will break down into small particles and turn into soil. This type of trash is biodegradable. Other types of trash will not break down and will remain on our Earth for thousands of years. In this activity, you will discover which types of trash are biodegradable.


Biodegradable – something that breaks down naturally and turns into soil

You will need

  • A tool to dig with.
  • 4 flat sticks you can write on; popsicle sticks will be okay.
  • A marker.
  • A pear or apple core
  • A leaf from a green leafy vegetable like spinach or lettuce
  • A piece of plastic packaging; a plastic bag will do just fine
  • A piece of styrofoam
  • A calendar

Time – Set up: 15 min

Activity:  One month to measure results.

Here’s what you do:

Use the marker to write the names of the four pieces of trash on the flat sticks.

  • Take the sticks, the tool you are going to dig with and the four pieces of trash outside into your backyard or schoolyard. Find a spot to dig a few holes. Try to find a spot that has warm, moist soil. Warm, moist soils breaks down biodegradable trash faster. Be sure to ask your parents or teachers if it’s okay to dig there.
  • Dig four holes that are wide and deep enough to put something in
  • Put each of the four pieces of trash in a separate hole. The fruit core goes in one hole; the vegetable leaf in the second hole; the plastic packaging in the third hole; the styrofoam in the last hole.
  • Fill the holes back up with dirt.
  • Mark each hole with the stick that matches what you buried in the hole.
  • Mark the date you buried the four pieces of trash on the calendar; mark a day a month later to go back and dig them up.
  • On the date marked, go back and dig up the four pieces of trash.

Questions to Answer

  • Did you find all the pieces of trash?
  • Which pieces were gone or almost all gone?
  • Which pieces of trash were still there?
  • Which types of trash are biodegradable?
  • Which types are not biodegradable?
  • Which kinds of trash are better for the Earth?
  • How can we change what we do with packaging and trash to make things better for the Earth?

Extension – What is composting and how can composting reduce the trash we create?



The Kids Ecology Corps at Snyder Park

3299 S.W. 4TH Avenue – Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33315 | Phone (954) 524-0366 E-mail:

The Kids Ecology Corps is a program of Partners in Action, Inc., a 501(c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1981, providing educational, cultural and leadership experience to young people encouraging immediate, positive, environmental action. And, continuous, determined action is making Environmental Harmony an idea whose time has come.
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