How to guide


> Trash Nest
Collect a week's worth of waste and put it on display


Do you think any of us would create as much waste if we had to actually live in the waste we created? For most of us, waste is a case of out of sight, out of mind. We’re used to it just going away, wherever ‘away’ is.

But as we know there is no ‘away’: someone or something somewhere is living with our waste. Whether it is in a rubbish dump, in a recycling facility, or (heaven forbid!) in the ocean, our waste has to go somewhere. And if we’re all making waste then that ‘away’ gets bigger and bigger and turns into a mountain of waste. Which is why it’s so important to cut the waste and spread the word!

Raising awareness about how much waste we create helps people ‘re-think’ their shopping habits and encourages people to buy food with less packaging and to try packing a waste-free lunch. Reducing the amount of packaging we use – or avoiding it altogether – is an easy way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment.

How To Do It


Decide what types of waste you will include in your nest: e.g. paper, plastic packets and containers, aluminum foil and cans, etc. Then ask students to keep the packaging waste from their lunchboxes that would normally go in the bin and pool it together. You can do this for a week or even a month!


Get creative and think about how you could display the waste to make a visual impact. For example:

  • Attach it to or enclose it in a fishing net
  • Decorate the outside of a cardboard box
  • Make a waste wall by sticking it to the wall


Choose a central place to display your trash nest to help raise awareness among students and parents/guardians about the amount of waste a typical class creates. Spread the word further by inviting the local paper to photograph your trash nest or take your own photo to share in the school newsletter.

Whole school tip

Get every class to collect their waste and then put it all together to create a giant whole school trash nest, based on one week, one month or a whole term. Think about how you could display this waste to show visitors to the school.

What’s Our Impact?

Use the guide below to work out your impact by either measuring the number of bins your nest fills or weighing your nest.

Three pieces of waste a day is equal to 30kg of waste per year. Approximately 1kg of plastic has a 6kg CO2e carbon footprint. What does that mean?

  • 30kg fills a 240L wheelie bin or equals 180 CO2e (CO2 equivalent) kg a year
  • 22kg fills a shopping trolley (175L) or 132 CO2e kg a year
  • 75kg fills a shopping basket (30L) or 22.5 CO2e kg per year

How much waste did your class capture in its nest? What was your saving?


Fast Facts

In just one year you’ll have thrown away around 200kg of packaging waste and so will everyone you know.

Australians bin 1.9 million tonnes of packaging waste per year, which is enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground nine times over!

1.9 million tonnes of packaging waste produces the same amount of greenhouse gas as 860,000 cars.