people thinking about environmental protection

On this webpage, you will find virtual education resources on the topics of waste reduction, landfilling, composting, recycling, and environmental protection. Several resources are available for community members and lifelong learners. Students and teachers can also find a variety of lessons and activities available to support school curriculum. 

This website is updated on a regular basis as details change or more resources become available. Know of an environmental education resource not listed? Reach out to the Recycling Coordinator at for consideration.

Websites listed below are not exhaustive and do not reflect City endorsement or support of products and services. Follow all safety precautions when doing projects and activities. 

  • Community Resources
    • Local Lessons & Resources
    • Podcasts
    • Websites & Online Resources
  • School Resources
    • Lesson Plans & Curriculum for Teachers
    • Books Read Aloud: Video Recordings 
    • Composting & Food Waste Resources 
    • Environment & Climate Resources 
    • Hazardous Material Resources 
    • Rainforest Resources 
    • Waste Reduction Resources 
    • Water Resources 
  • Contact Us

Community Resources

In this section, lifelong learners and community members interested in learning more about the environment can access several free resources.

Local Lessons & Resources
  • Climate Action website offers several resources and reports that highlight local climate action efforts, greenhouse gas emissions reporting, and climate projections. 
  • Climate Ambassador Training Modules include links to information about climate science, how to effectively communicate with others about climate change, and resources that can deepen your knowledge about actions contained in the Iowa City Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.
  • Climate in the Heartland report was the result of collaboration between five Midwestern cities and climate experts from their respective states.  This project looked at historical climate data and used a variety of modeling techniques to get an accurate projection of future climate projections for each location. The goal of this work was to assist participating cities as they prepare for climate change impact so they can adapt their operations to better serve citizens in a changing environment (USDN). 
  • Compost & Food Waste Lesson (text-only version) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: what items can be composted, how composting works and why it helps the environment, why food waste is bad for the environment, and how to reduce food waste at home (City of Iowa City).
  • Green Iowa AmeriCorps Energy & Community Iowa City offers several videos covering different environmental topics including wind, fire, earth, water, and climate. 
  • Hazardous Material Lesson (text-only version) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: which items at home may be hazardous, why hazardous materials can be dangerous, how to know if an item is hazardous, and how to safely use and get rid of hazardous materials the right way (City of Iowa City).
  • How Does a Landfill Work? video provides an overview of how a landfill cell is built and how it operates to ensure environmental protection (City of Iowa City). 
  • How to Recycle Glass in Iowa City video provides an overview of glass recycling in Iowa City and the recycling process (City of Iowa City). 
Websites & Online Resources
  • Earth Easy educates on how to reduce plastic in your life and what some easy alternatives are. 
  • Further With Food offers a variety of food waste reduction, prevention, and measurement resources. 
  • Going Zero Waste offers guidance on how to transition to a zero waste lifestyle for beginners. 
  • I Value Food offers tips and information on food storage, composting, meal planning, cooking, and more. 
  • Joe Gardener offers lots of information on organic, sustainable gardening and composting in the form of videos, guides, a podcast, and more. 
  • National Association of Clean Water Agencies provides news, research, and advocacy resources related to water. 
  • Save the Food has storage and freezing guides, recipes, tips on how to revive food, and more.

School Resources

School resources are organized into environmental topic areas for students and teachers for easy navigation. Grade levels for each resource are identified by letter abbreviations after each resource name to signify if the resource is applicable to preschool and kindergarten, elementary, middle, or high school learning levels. Note: Many lessons are adaptable to other grade levels depending on need. 

Grade Level Identification
  • PK = Preschool & Kindergarten 
  • E = Elementary School
  • M = Middle School
  • H = High School 
Lesson Plans & Curriculum for Teachers

The following are websites comprised of a variety of prepared lesson plans and curriculum on topics of environment and waste reduction that are most helpful to teachers (K-12 grade levels represented). 

Books Read Aloud: Video Recordings (PK, E):
Composting & Food Waste Resources 
  • Compost with Peppa Pig! video (PK) will teach you how composting works. 
  • Peg + Cat: Curious About Compost PBS Kids video (PK) will teach you what can be composted and how it works. 
  • Composting Coloring Book (E): Learn all about composting while you have fun coloring (Georgia Recycles)!
  • Food Waste Curriculum (E): Several prepared lessons are available on food waste topics including why food waste is bad for the environment and ways to reduce food waste (Purdue Agriculture). 
  • Compost & Food Waste Lesson (text-only version) (E, M) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: how to reduce food waste at home, why food waste is bad for the environment, how composting works and why it helps the environment, and what items can be composted (City of Iowa City).
  • Teacher’s Guide to Compost Activities (E, M, H) offers several lessons that teach how composting works, which living things help to decompose organic material, ways to reduce food waste, how to build a compost system, and the environmental benefits of composting (Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District). 
  • The Compost Story video (H) teaches you about the importance of and science behind composting and includes a Teacher Curriculum Guide (Kiss The Ground). 
  • The Soil Story video (H) teaches you about soil science and how healthy soil plays a vital role in a healthy environment and climate, and includes a Teacher Curriculum Guide (Kiss The Ground).
  • Food Waste Lesson & Activity Toolkits (PK, E, M, H) (WWF)
    • A Little Food Waste Leads to a Lot (K-2 Toolkit)
    • Food Waste Hurts Our World (3-5 Toolkit)
    • How Much Food Is Wasted Each Year? (6-8 Toolkit)
    • Equipping Food Waste Activists (9-12 Toolkit)
Environment & Climate Resources 
Hazardous Material Resources 
  • Hazardous Material Lesson (text-only version) (E, M) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: how to safely use and get rid of hazardous materials the right way, how to know if an item is hazardous, why hazardous materials can be dangerous, and what items at home may be hazardous (City of Iowa City).
  • Scott The Recycle Guy - Household Hazardous Wastes video (E, M) teaches you what hazardous material is, why it can be dangerous, and how to safely dispose of it (dphilms).
    • Note: While this video is set in Scott County, Johnson County has a similar facility that accepts hazardous material at no cost from Johnson County residents. In addition, the Iowa City Landfill houses a product exchange room called the "Swap Shop" where residents can get gently-used products at no cost. 
  • Symbols and Placards on Hazardous Products video (H) explains what the different symbols mean on hazardous products you may have in your home (iHASCO). 
  • Why Dispose of Household Hazardous Materials (HHMs) Properly video (H) educates on the negative impacts of improper disposal of hazardous material, and about how you can properly and safely handle and dispose of them (Iowa DNR).
    • The local Hazardous Material Collection Facility at the Iowa City Landfill is where residents of Johnson County can take hazardous material at no cost. This facility is open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., no appointment needed. 
Rainforest Resources (Rainforest Alliance) 
  • Rainforest Coloring Page (PK): Learn more about the plants and animals of the rainforest on the coloring page. 
  • Rainforest Species Profiles (E): From bananas to tigers, learn amazing facts about the animals and plants in the rainforest. Each species has its own dedicated profile which makes it easy to offer short, daily lessons, or to divide a list of species up between a group of students. 
  • Rainforest Animal Flipbook (E): Students or teachers can download a free flipbook in which students can learn about all the levels of the rainforest. A teacher guide and additional worksheets are included in the download. 
  • Resources for Teachers (PK, E, M): Coloring pages, lessons, and activities are ready to use. 
Waste Reduction Resources 
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Song video (PK) is a fun, musical way to learn how to reduce waste (Silly School Education). 
  • Recycling video (PK) with Peppa Pig teaches you what recycling is and what types of things can be recycled (Edinburgh Recycle). 
  • Reuse and Recycle to Reduce Waste! video (PK) teaches you how to reuse and recycle lots of different stuff (Counting with Paula).
  • Garbage video (PK) shows that a lot of stuff ends up in the trash that could have been reused, recycled, or composted (Loop Scoops).  
  • Recycle City (E): This program offers students an interactive experience as they tour a sustainable community. They will learn how Recycle City is working hard to recycle, reduce energy use, and be more sustainable (EPA).
  • Landfill Lesson (text-only version) (E, M) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: why certain items are not allowed to be thrown away, what leachate and methane are, and where our trash goes (City of Iowa City).
  • How Does a Landfill Work? video provides an overview of how a landfill cell is built and how it operates to ensure environmental protection (City of Iowa City). 
  • Materials Lesson (text-only version) (E, M) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: how single stream recycling works, how to recycle, compost, or dispose of many different materials, and what curbside collection and drop-off programs are (City of Iowa City).
  • Waste Reduction Lesson (text-only version) (E, M) is a self-guided lesson. In this lesson, learn: what upcycling is, how you can reduce waste, and why waste reduction is important to protecting the environment (City of Iowa City).
  • What’s a smartphone made of? video (M, H) (TEDEd)
  • The Lifecycle of a T-shirt video (M, H) provides a glimpse into the major environmental impacts of one t-shirt (TEDEd). 
  • A Brief History of Plastic video (M, H) covers how plastic was invented, how plastic production became successful, and environmental impacts (TEDEd). 
Water Resources 

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