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Choose Your Own Adventure: Plastic Water Bottle (Grade 4)

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Earth Day - Recycling BinsChoose Your Own Adventure:
The Life of a Plastic Water Bottle

by Jennifer Xu

Pretend you are a plastic water bottle. After the water you have has been emptied out, you choose where you go next. What will you do?

If you choose to be tossed in the garbage can, go to the first paragraph.

If you choose to be left on the street, go to the second paragraph.

If you choose to be thrown in the recycling bin, go to the third paragraph.

You get thrown into a pile of trash alongside a plastic bag and paper towels. The next morning, you get emptied into a bigger trash can and then thrown into a big truck filled with garbage. The truck takes you to a landfill where you are emptied out into a humongous pile of garbage. You sit there on top of a mountain of trash for hundreds of years as you slowly decompose.

You wander the streets for months until you finally get swept into the ocean by rainwater. You float around in the water for a week until a whale accidentally eats you. Oh no! A whale isn’t supposed to eat plastic!

You are thrown into a recycling bin alongside an aluminum can and a piece of paper. After a couple days, you get emptied into a truck that takes you to a recycling center. At the recycling center, you are loaded onto a conveyor belt while people sort out all of the non-recyclable materials. Once you have made it through sorting, you are washed then shredded into small pellets. Afterwards, you are identified as a certain type of plastic. Lastly, you are extruded, meaning you are shredded and melted to create pellets that can be made into different types of plastic.

Recycling is the process of converting waste into reusable material. Recycling is important because it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators. Landfills and incinerators release harmful chemicals and gases into the environment. Even worse, sometimes recyclable materials get littered on the streets. Litter can get swept into the ocean or wildlife where it can harm animals or release toxins into nature. On the other hand, recycling saves energy, conserves natural resources, and helps to reduce pollution.

Keep in mind that not everything can be recycled! Some items that are commonly recycled include: plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass, milk cartons, paper, and cardboard. Some common items that cannot be recycled include: plastic bags, styrofoam, paper towels, tissues, batteries, and plastic utensils.

If you are not sure whether an item can be recycled or not, look for a Mobius Loop.

What is that?

A Mobius Loop is the name for the triangle made up of three arrows that you see on recyclable materials. If you see that on an object, then make sure you toss it in the recycling so it can be made into something new.
What is recycling?
  1. the process of disposing waste
  2. the process of converting waste into reusable material
  3. the process of making plastic from chemicals in the environment
  4. the process of starting a cycle to produce new goods for consumers
Which one of these can be recycled?
  1. a plastic bottle
  2. a paper towel
  3. a plastic bag
  4. a Styrofoam cup
Which one of these cannot be recycled?
  1. a glass bottle
  2. a milk carton
  3. a piece of paper
  4. a tissue
What is a benefit of recycling?
  1. It creates more waste.
  2. It reduces pollution.
  3. It makes more water.
  4. It adds toxins to nature.
What is a Mobius Loop?
  1. a hiking trail
  2. a type of knot uses on ships
  3. a square-shaped picture that uses arrows
  4. a symbol that shows an object can be recycled
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