Just how much trash does your family generate? Have you ever thought about it? The average American generates 4 pounds of trash per day. So our family of five, according to that statistic, would generate 20 pounds of trash a day. That’s 140 pounds of trash a week. That’s 7,280 pounds of trash a year.

That’s 3.5 TONS of trash.

Holy cow! (Or three cows to be exact. The average cow weighs 2400 pounds…)

And that’s the average American. When I told the Bug this, she wondered how our family compared.

It’s a great question.So we decided to find out with the help of Open Door Care and their Camelot Learning Program. Here’s how you can, too!

STEM at home: trash talking and the 3 “Rs”

Make a Hypothesis

Ask your child how much trash do you think our family creates? Do you think it’s more or less than the average American?

While talking with the Bug, we decided that we probably generate more trash than the American family because of all of Little Lion Man’s medical supplies. But we create less lunch trash because she takes ‘greener’ lunches to school (reusable containers and cloth napkins).

Set the Stage

Sounds a little crazy but does your child have any concept of a landfill? How about a visit to one open to the public to really see what happens with so much of what we throw away!

Problem Solve

How will you determine how much trash is generated every day? We decided that we would empty all of our trash into the same trash can at the end of each day and weigh it. Of course, we weighed the trash can first to see how much that weighed so we could subtract it from our trash total.
STEM @ HOME: Trash Talking and the 3 Rs

Collect Data

For one week, we weighed our trash. Just our trash — not anything we recycled. Have your child record the data on a chart. We chose not to weigh anything we recycled (and we recycle a LOT). But you may want to include that to get the most accurate picture.


Look at how much trash was created. What was the average amount of trash your family created each day? Our family average was 14.5 lbs. How does that compare to the national average?


Now that you’ve seen how much trash your family creates, discuss how you can reduce that amount, how you can reuse things, and how you can recycle (the 3 ‘Rs’!). The Bug created a poster for our fridge with ‘earth friendly’ reminders for our family… It’s helpful to see if every day!
STEM @ HOME: Trash Talking and the 3 Rs

I don’t know that we’re ready to go trash free, but we’re definitely ready to curb the trash flow.

About Our Sponsor

Camelot Learning at Open Door Care

Kids learn through experience and choice at Open Door Care, with Camelot Learning activities designed to accelerate student achievement through hands-on learning.  This summer, one of Open Door Care’s weekly Camelot Learning themes is Caring for the Earth. During this theme, children take a look at conservation of the Earth’s natural resources with the goal of demonstrating a sense of responsibility for caring for the earth. Water, air and waste pollutants and methods of prevention are explored. Additionally, children explore what it means to reuse, recycle and reduce by using items which are typically thrown away to create, design, construct and play. The Camelot Learning Program at Open Door makes learning fun. It features cross-curricular learning filled with STEM activities. Open Door Care offers Camelot Learning to every child every day!

Open Door Care was founded over 30 years ago to support today’s family by offering quality before and after school childcare that is an extension of home and school. Open Door’s core values are a SNAP! SAFE…NURTURING…ACADEMIC…PROFESSIONAL