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Wrap It Up
(from Lesson 4 - Source Reduction)

In this lesson students will determine the amount of packaging used for a product.

Use of the book:
Teacher background on source reduction: p.100-101.
Teacher notes on activity: p.110-112.
Student instructions for activity: p.113-114.
Data recording/Analysis questions: p.116-117.

Materials Needed:
6-7 brands of chewing gum with unique packaging (one per group, so depends on number of groups) (Note: When purchasing, save the prices!)
triple-beam balances – 1 per group
calculators – 2 per group

p.113-114 back-to-back and laminated for directions
p. 113-114 on overhead transparencies
p.115, 116, 117 back-to-back for participants (Note: make correction on chart p.115)
p. 115 single-sided for participants
p.115 on overhead transparency

Opening Strategy: p.111
How many people chew gum? What factors do you use to select the brand you buy? Do you ever select gum just because of the packaging? Was the packaging useful to keep, or did you throw it away?

Why do we need packaging? (use overhead transparency or poster pad on easel)
· Protection
· Ease of shelving
· Sterile
· Must be in container to have shape (ie. Liquids)
· Promotes product
· Divides for easy use (ie. Granola bars, Pop Tarts)
· Freshness

Types of Chewing gum
Courtesy of Wrigley Ltd.



Procedure: p.113-114
1. Record the different brands of gum and their prices in the appropriate columns of the chart p.115.
2. Find the total mass of your group’s package (gum + packaging). This may be printed on the package; if not, use a balance.
3. Record the printed gum mass. This may not be present; use balance if necessary.
4. Calculate the mass of the packaging:
Total mass – gum mass = packaging mass
Note: There is a typo on the chart. It says “Calculated gum mass” but it should say “Calculated packaging mass”.
5. Unwrap all of the gum in your package. Measure the mass of gum. Record (actual gum mass).
6. Measure the packaging mass. Record (actual packaging mass).
7. Calculate and record the packaging percentage of the total mass:
   Actual gum mass     X 100
Total packaging mass
8. Calculate and record the cost per gram of gum:
         Price           X 100    
actual gum mass
9. Graph the percentage of packaging on the bar graph p.115. Get the information from the other groups and complete your bar graph. (Teacher can have students go around to different groups to get the information, or have one student per group come to the overhead and record the cost data on an overhead transparency of the chart.)
10. Answer questions on p.116-117.
11. Discuss.


  • Some packaging becomes waste, some can be recycled, some can be reused.
  • Packaging makes up 35% of all solid waste – overhead of pie graph p.48
  • Price – did higher cost relate to more packaging?
  • Extensions, Cross-Curricular Integration: p.111-112.
    • Use different products (ie. Candy).
    • Design a new way to package gum using the least amount of packaging.
    • Unit pricing – what is most economical way to buy products?
  • Related Activity: One Liter – To Go, p.102-109 - students consider how similar products can be packaged in many different ways (using beverage containers).
  • The Garbage Gazette: p.118-121.
    • “ War of the Packing Fillers” – packing fillers
    • “ Enjoying Fresh Milk…In The Desert?”- food preservation/aseptic packaging

Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Room 244
PO Box 210207, Tucson, AZ, USA 85721-0207

Funded by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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