Landfill in a Bottle

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In this activity, learners discover how landfills affect the natural environment. By observing a 2-liter bottle filled with household garbage over a month, learners can estimate how long it takes for average household garbage takes to break down.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per student)

  • 2 liter pop bottle per student
  • Paper bags
  • Dirt (from a yard, not a bag)
  • Newspaper to cover the tables
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Pieces of trash (i.e. aluminum, lint, paper, orange peel, plastic bag)


  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 2009