Talking rubbish (ethics of waste disposal)

Get children to act out story:

DO: Tell the children they are to imagine the centre of the circle is a place called NewTown.  Get some children to throw imaginary rubbish (or use something physical, like bags of recycling) into middle of circle.

SAY: NewTown was getting very messy and smelly because the bins were so full.  The Boss of NewTown decided he had to do something.  He looked out from on high beyond the walls of the city and could see in the far distance that there were large pits big enough to hold the city’s rubbish.  So he had some trucks drive the rubbish out and put it there.

DO: Get some children to carry the imaginary/physical rubbish to some kind of box representing ‘the pit’ outside of the circle.

SAY:  Finally NewTown was clean.


Task Questions:

  • Is the boss of NewTown good?
  • Was it a good idea to take the rubbish to the pits?

Nested Questions:

  • Did he clean up NewTown?
  • Was it fair to take the rubbish to the pits?


DO: Get some more children to act as villagers for the next bit…


SAY: Next to the pits was a small village and the villagers had been watching the trucks dump all the rubbish into the pits, soon they could also smell the horrible stench coming up.  It wasn’t nice!  The villagers went to have a look and were very upset.  They wanted to get rid of the rubbish but it was too heavy to take it away.


Task Question:

  • Was it fair to take the rubbish to the pits?

Nested Questions:

  • Was it fair for the people of NewTown?
  • Was it fair for the villagers?

DO: Get actors for villagers and bring truck drivers back into scene…

SAY: The trucks were bringing more rubbish to the pits when the villagers jumped down and said “STOP.  We don’t want your rubbish!  Take it back to your town.”  The truck drivers explained that they couldn’t do that and quickly turned away.  “Well, if you don’t” said the villagers, “then we will declare war on your town!”  The truck drivers went back to NewTown and told their boss what had happened.  He was concerned and had a think about it.  He didn’t want to take the rubbish back, but then he thought that the villagers needed water, and he had some expert well builders in his town, so he sent them to make a well for the villagers so that the rubbish could stay.

DO: Get some actors to go back to the village and talk with the villagers.

SAY: The well builders told the villagers what the boss of the town had said, “so we can make you a well, but the rubbish has to stay”.  The villagers weren’t sure, but  before they knew it, the well builders had started digging the well just outside the pits and they decided that it would be good to have it, so they let them carry on.  In a week the well was built and the well builders left home for NewTown.  It was a sunny day that they finished, the rubbish was stinking as ever, but the villagers strolled past and took a big bucket of water up to enjoy a big gulp of delicious water.


Task Questions:

  • Was the boss of NewTown good?
  • Did the boss of NewTown do a good thing?

Nested Questions:

  • Was what happened fair?
  • Were the villagers treated fairly?



DO: Ask the children to say something they own.

SAY: Imagine this thing that you own “X” breaks and you throw it in the bin.  The dustbin lorry comes and takes the rubbish away.

Task Question:

  • Now that it’s in the lorry, do you own X?

Interesting to offer comparison of different types of rubbish, e.g. special item, like ‘kindle’, with food waste item, like ‘apple core’.

Download Talking rubbish (ethics of waste disposal)

Ages: Ages 5-7 (KS1)

Subjects: Ethics