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Waste Hero: Free Resources for Teaching Recycling, Creating Zero Waste and Building the Circular Economy

Our schools can be a place where we empower the next generation of leaders with the knowledge to do right by our planet. Discover and get free activity-based lessons and workshops to teach your students about our environment.
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Published: February 2024

NEA has teamed up with a non-profit co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Yunus to provide free lesson plans. The program empowers teachers to educate the next generation about our environment and the circular economy. 

The lesson plans are grouped into 6 levels, that cover all leaners, from K-12 to college. Each level has a beginner, intermediate and advance lesson option. This allows lessons to be adaptable, whether it is a standalone lesson or part of the curriculum.

two students and moderator high five over their WasteHero project

Waste Hero is centred around three main pillars: recycling fundamentals, creating zero waste, and building the circular economy. An Educational Advisory Group of 23 teachers, academics, educators and zero waste specialists helped write the lesson plans and activity worksheets. Each lesson plan has teaching objectives, an optional script, a lesson prep outline and a PDF and PowerPoint to allow customization.

The teaching resources are translated into a variety of languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese. Most importantly, the “Waste Hero” teaching resources are available for free online.

  • 19 free lesson plans
  • Easily downloadable lesson plans with activity worksheets
  • Fully customizable lesson with optional script
  • Available for all education levels, from kindergarten to colleges, in both English and Spanish.
  • Get your free teaching resources today at

The lesson plans have been validated by an independent panel of four global education experts who concluded, with a high level of assurance, that the materials are appropriate for use with learners at different educational levels in diverse contexts.

Central to this assessment is the editable design of the materials, which allows educators the opportunity to contextualize the lessons to fit their local educational and waste management context. The lesson plans were also tested and validated in classrooms in the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Schools, universities, and interested organizations can access the free teaching resources here

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Climate and Environmental Justice: NEA Resources

The NEA supports advancing climate solutions and environmental justice. From curriculum planning, to advocacy, to policy, we have resources to help you take an active role in protecting the environment and preparing for the future.
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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.