Do we generate more trash or less over the last 50 years?

Grade level:  4th – 5th grades

Skills: Line graphs

Related environmental issues: Waste generation

The table below shows the amount of trash discarded between 1960 and 2014 in the United States.

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  1. Make a line graph to represent the information in the table.slide1
  2. Has the amount of trash increased or decreased over the last 50 years?
  3. Between which years did the amount of trash change the most?
  4. How much did the amount of trash increase between 1960 and 2010?
  5. If this trend continues, what do you think the amount of trash in 2020 will be?a)  265 million tons     b)   255 million tons c)   230 million tons       d)   220 million tons

Sources: U.S. EPA, 2016. Advancing Sustainable Materials Management:2014 Fact Sheet

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Answer keys

  1. increased
  2. between 1980 and 1990
  3. 163 (million tons) (251 – 88 = 163 )
  4. a