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Junk Mail Graphing and Recycling: A Good Way to Keep It Out of Landfills

Published by Holley Carideo

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Everyone gets at least one piece of junk mail every day at their house. Much of this mail winds up in the landfills because no one actually wants it. Often times it goes right into the trash without even being looked at. A much better idea is to gather it and use it for a lesson at school. This lesson incorporates math and science.

A week before Earth Day a note should be sent home with students asking parents to gather all the junk mail each family receives for one week. Parents should be told the mail will be used for a math lesson and then recycled into something useful.

Junk Mail Math Lesson

Each student counts the pieces of junk mail they have brought from home. This number is recorded on a piece of paper. Each student then figures out if this amount is the average per week how much would his family receive in a month and in a year. Finally the student totals for the week are all gathered on a graph. The average amount of junk mail for the class is determined.

Paper from Junk Mail

Students take the junk mail they have received and sort it into colors. The colors will be kept sorted so a variety of colors of paper can be made. Students will understand the process of making paper after this experiment.

Items Needed to Make Paper

  • Junk mail
  • Bucket of warm water
  • White glue
  • Blender
  • Wooden frame
  • Piece of Screen
  • Paper Towels

Steps to Making Paper

  1. Staple the screen to the back of the wooden frame. Staple close together so the staples hold. Set aside.
  2. Tear the junk mail into small pieces. It can be sorted by color if desired at this point.
  3. Put pieces of paper in bucket of warm water and leave overnight.
  4. Put paper into blender with water. The ratio is one cup of paper to 2 and 1/2 cups of water.
  5. Blend on medium high until the consistency of thin oatmeal.
  6. Add one tablespoon white glue and blend well.
  7. Fill a washtub with two inches of water. Dump the paper mixture from the blender into the water.
  8. Stir mixture and then dip frame into mixture.
  9. Shake frame back and forth lightly to distribute paper mixture evenly.
  10. Lift frame straight up quickly, keeping water mixture on top and allowing water to drain through.
  11. Squish out all the extra water you can by pushing with paper towel.
  12. Place in a warm spot to dry. The frame can be set up on cans to help the air circulate better. it will take several hours or overnight for the paper to dry completely.
  13. Turn the frame over and gently tap on the back to remove your paper.

The junk mail has been recycled into something new and useful. The children helping have learned about recycling and how paper is created. They have also used their math skills to find averages and create a graph.

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