Another Person's Treasure
  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      4. Benchmark MS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      5. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.

The learners will choose and develop a neighborhood clean-up project.

PrintThree 45 Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify an area in the school, neighborhood, or community that is in need of clean-up
  • identify potential items of trash they might encounter during the clean-up effort
  • describe and commit to following safety rules and procedures during the clean-up effort.
  • participate in a service clean-up effort of a “commons” area.
  • sort collected trash into identifiable categories.
  • Plastic gloves for all learners
  • Statistics Cards (Handout One)
  • Paper bags with handles for trash (one for each team of 2)
  • Glue, construction paper scraps, permanent markers
  • Internet access or copies of the article One Man’s Trash is not Necessarily Another Man’s Treasure
  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask learners to think about what items they have seen along the road, the parks, on the beach, in the school, etc. and list these on the display board. (It is not unlikely that learners will identify items such as condoms, needles, personal hygiene items, etc... be sure to list these items along with the other identified items.) Once the listing seems to be pretty inclusive, ask the learners if anyone should be responsible for picking up these items and disposing them other than the person who discarded them in the first place. Ask the learners to consider what happens if no one picks up these items to dispose of them.

  2. Day One:

    Explain to learners that they will be participating in a service clean-up project and trash collection effort and identify any behavioral goals they think should be set for this activity. Make sure that the rules and expectations for this collection are clear and understood.

  3. Invite a local representative to talk to the learners about the different types of “trash” they might encounter. Be sure the discussion involves the proper procedure for handling all items during the clean-up. Perhaps a display of items that may be encountered during the clean-up will be helpful.

  4. Involve the learners in a discussion about areas that are in need of clean-up and reach consensus as to which area they will target.

  5. Distribute plastic gloves to each learner. If the learners need to reuse the gloves during the clean-up activity, tell them to write their name on the gloves with a permanent marker. If determined appropriate, have them practice the proper method of handling the items.

  6. Place glue, construction paper scraps, markers, discarded school “trash”, scissors and trash bags on a table. Tell learners they are to design a bag for collecting trash during the clean-up effort. Tell them to be as creative as possible and to use any of the materials available.

  7. Use these questions to frame a journal entry or as a whole group discussion.

    1. What things do you expect to find?
    2. What things will be more difficult to remove?
    3. What are the most important techniques for removing and disposing of trash?
    4. What procedures for safety should you abide by?
    5. What skills or abilities are needed to be successful? (Be sure “following the rules” is mentioned.)
  8. Day Two:

  9. Prior to engaging the learners in the actual clean-up, take a few minutes to review safety procedures and rules. With their protective gloves and their litter collection bags, walk (or provide bus service) to a local “commons” area (school grounds, park, water way) and have learners collect as much trash as they can find.

  10. Upon returning to class, tell the learners to take out a ½ sheet of paper and respond to these two questions. Collect their answers as they leave the classroom.

    1. How was this experience different from what you expected?
    2. How do you feel about participating in this experience?
  11. Day Three:

  12. To conclude this lesson, arrange the learners into groups of four and instruct them to cover their work surface (table/desk, etc.) with paper and put on their gloves. Inform them that they will be classifying the trash materials collected from the previous day. Have them make a pile for recyclable, reusable, and items to be discarded. Ask them if their collections match the information from Lesson One: One Person’s Trash regarding the different percentage amounts of materials- Discarded Trash (Handout One).

  13. Distribute a copy of the article “One Man's Trash Doesn't Necessarily Become Another Man's Treasure” (

  14. Have learners read through the article and discuss their reactions. Tell them that over the next few days they will be turning the recyclable and reusable trash they collected into items to be “treasured” and if they have any recyclable and reusable trash items at home, they can bring them to school and turn them into "treasures" as well (Save all non-perishable items collected during the community clean-up effort to use for this final project and all perishable items should be properly disposed of.)


The learner’s involvement in the classroom discussions and projects leading up to the clean-up, the depth of understanding evident in the journal entry, and the involvement in and ability to follow the rules for the clean up service project all form the basis for assessment for this lesson.