Look through a virtual kitchen trash can and improve your real home’s discarding methods.

About the Activity

In this activity, you will sort through a virtual kitchen trash can to learn how to properly sort waste. You’ll also see how proper food disposal, good planning, and a good waste management system can also save money and reduce environmental impact.

Grades: 7-10
Topic: Food Systems, Civic Engagement
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Brought to you by New York State 4-H, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

A wooden crate of food waste


The only supply you need for this activity is the interactive content on this page!

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Activity Steps

Use this interactive activity to learn about what food products you consume, and what happens to what’s left over when you’re done.

Reflection Questions
Bonus questions after sorting through your kitchen trash

  1. How can we help apply what we learned to reducing food waste in our community?
  2. What are the reasons that you throw away food? How can you reduce food waste in your own home?
  3. What will the future be like if a large amount of food and food packaging continues to be wasted?
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Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

Now that you’ve learned about kitchen trash, try this bonus activity in which you can create your very own composting bag.

Reusing a Reclosable Bag to Make Compost
Adapted from Caroline Boutard-Hunt, CCE Yates County


  • A medium size plastic bag (reuse 1 gallon reclosable bags)
  • Garden or kitchen waste such as grass clippings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, or chopped up fruit peels
  • Shredded brown stuff such as pine needles or dry leaves
  • Garden soil
  • Alfalfa pellets (rabbit food)
  • Measuring cups and spoons: ½ cup, 1 cup, 1 tablespoon


  • Put half cup of shredded green materials in your bag.
  • Add half cup of shredded brown materials.
  • Add one cup of garden soil. You need soil, as it will contain the tiny decomposers that will do the composting work.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of alfalfa pellets and 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Seal the bag and shake well.
  • Squeeze the bag once a day to mix things up. Every other day leave the bag open.

If all goes well, you will get decomposed organic matter in about six weeks to use as compost!

Two people holding a trash bag

Shop 4-H Curriculum and Products

Shop 4-H offers university-backed curriculum, educational kits, products and supplies to expand your knowledge of cooking, food, and nutrition.


4-H Clover Cookie Cutter

Bring 4-H into your kitchen with this metal 4-H cookie cutter. This cutter makes for an excellent cooking competition or food demonstration prize.


4-H Cooking 101 Curriculum from Shop 4-H

4-H Cooking 101

Grades: 6-12

Learn to avoid spreading germs while cooking, measure and mix ingredients, test baked goods for doneness, brown meat, and set the table for a family meal.


4-H clover aprons from Shop 4-H

4-H Clover Apron

All good cooks need an apron when they are whisking around the kitchen! Cook in style while showing your 4-H pride!


4-H oven mitt from Shop 4-H

4-H Oven Mitt

Turn up the heat in the kitchen while showing off your 4-H pride! The 4-H Oven Mitt makes a great gift for the chef in your home.




Fresh Chefs Cooking Essentials Bundle

The Fresh Chefs Cooking Essentials Bundle helps young chefs learn their way around the kitchen. Set includes a spatula, measuring cups, and 2 Flex-it cutting boards.




Fantastic Foods: Six Easy Bites

Grades: 3-12


This food activity guide helps kids learn about different food ingredients, characteristics, and safety issues.




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No endorsement of these supporters' products or services is granted or implied by 4‑H. This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI - Education and Workforce Development project 2021-67037-33376.9

Help 4-H Provide #Opportunity4All Kids