K-12 Youth Education: Generation Zero

Austin Resource Recovery is committed to achieving Zero Waste by educating Austin’s youth to create the next Generation Zero! Austin Resource Recovery, in partnership with Keep Austin Beautiful, provides presentations, activity kits, youth service projects and field trips for students in grades K through 12. Join us to engage youth in fun, hands-on activities and service projects to raise awareness about recycling, composting and conservation while fostering environmental stewardship.


Schedule multidisciplinary lessons that meet state education standards paired with a service project to connect these experiences to real world situations. Participating schools may choose to incorporate vermicompost bins to process discarded organic materials, a home eco-challenge to improve personal recycling habits, “green” events to divert trash from the landfill and Zero Waste campaigns to raise awareness of our consumption habits. 

Participating schools receive:

  • Classroom presentations led by Keep Austin Beautiful. Presentations fit into a typical school block and range from 45-50 minutes for K-8 and 90 minutes for high school 
  • Curriculum resources and supplemental activities
  • Guidance in the planning and implementation of a stewardship project.
  • All project supplies provided including: cardboard recycling bins, compost containers, event recycling bins and campaign materials
  • Transportation for fieldtrips to recycling facilities and landfills. Limited availability for schools with grade level participation
  • A Generation Zero banner that recognizes your school’s participation

K–2: Classroom Composting

After sorting recyclables, students take a close look at nature’s recycling and the science of composting. Students will use observation skills and their senses to explore worms in the process of decomposition and identify acceptable materials for composting. This lesson offers a hands-on look at the life of a worm and provides a prompt for setting up a classroom vermicomposting bin or a classroom compost collection system.

3rd–5th Grade: Recycling Adds Up

Students put their math and critical thinking skills to the test by calculating the types of materials found in our waste stream, decoding recycling symbols, and weighing and charting samples of trash from the classroom to determine the percentage of school waste that is or could be diverted. The numbers tell a convincing story about the importance of saving the environment through recycling and a home eco-challenge.

Middle School: Trash Travels and MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) Madness

Students will identify how trash is processed in a landfill, explore the structure and impact while building model landfills, take a journey through the sorting, packing, and processing of materials and discover just how much land and resources it takes to support the average lifestyle. The learning is taken a step further as students initiate a one-time or ongoing recycling campaign on campus.

High School: Opening the Lid on Waste

Explore the evolution of trash in American society from street dumping to sanitary landfill systems. Topics will include: increased waste production, municipal collection, links to disease, disposal methods and landfill regulations. Students will be challenged to consider how have these events changed perceptions of waste through the decades. Information will be used to transition into a more in-depth approach about consumer products.


Register here to schedule a presentation and engage students in service. For questions e-mail education@keepaustinbeautiful.org or call 512-391-0617.

Public Resources

Activity Kits: Attention Scout troop leaders, after-school instructors and educators! Teaching youth about Zero Waste is easier than ever with activity kits that are available for checkout. Activity kits come with an easy-to-follow lesson plan and all the supplies needed to lead the hands-on activities. View the full list of kits available, or request a kit. 

Discover more Zero Waste resources at http://keepaustinbeautiful.org/program/generation-zero.