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Earth Day Science: Where Does Our Trash Go?

Learn about landfills with this simple science project. Trash and landfill science. #earthday #earthdayscience #earthdayactivity

Learn about landfills with this simple science project. Trash and landfill science. #earthday #earthdayscience #earthdayactivity

Earth Day Science: Where Does Our Trash Go?

Have you every really thought about what happens to our trash after the garbage truck hauls it to the dump? What exactly is a landfill and how does it get rid of all the trash we make in our community? Many garbage dumps also have a place to drop off recyclable materials but some people think it’s no big deal to add all their trash to the landfill without sorting the recyclables.

Landfill Science Project

Today we’re going to make our own landfill but on a much smaller scale than the ones in our community. This is an easy landfill science project for kids who like to learn visually, as they can see how garbage changes over time.


landfill science

  • 1 Outdoor planter or box
  • Soil
  • 1 Piece of paper
  • 1 Plastic food container lid
  • 1 Banana peel or other fruit

The banana peel, paper, and plastic lid are the trash for this experiment.


landfill science

Fill the planter with soil.

Create three holes in the soil and place one piece of trash in each hole. Cover the trash with soil.

Place the planter in a spot where the outside elements will reach the soil. Direct sunlight, rain, and even freezing temperatures are great for this experiment.

landfill science

Let the planter sit outside for about a week. Letting it sit out even longer will intensify the effects of the sun, rain and frost. Water the soil if it doesn’t rain.

After your trash has been sitting in the landfill for a while, it’s time to see how the garbage has been changed by the soil and weather.

landfill science

Our results showed that the paper had become soggy and crumpled. It was no longer usable and would continue to break down if left in the soil.

The banana peel had turned brown and shriveled. Again, if left in the soil it could have decomposed further.

The plastic lid looked the same as when we placed it in the soil. It showed no signs of wear or breakdown.

What did our landfill show us?

Certain materials break down in landfills better than others. Burying our trash only works if the garbage biodegrades over time. Otherwise we’ll have giant holes filled with trash and we could run out of space! Sorting our trash to place recyclables in the correct containers can help reduce the amount of garbage that goes into the landfills. And if the landfills are full of biodegradable materials, the trash will breakdown over time allowing for more space to put the garbage from our community.


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