The Way We Live

...and how our choices impact our environment

Imagine if you could help individuals and groups within our society understand their role as promoters of change or the status quo.

As a result of their teacher attending the Helping Students Protect the Environment and Live Well professional development workshop, Denver (IA) High School students organized a community service project to Stuff the Bus (a school bus) with the unused and unneeded things from their own homes and other homes in the community. Click to watch these students take action!

The Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) and Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) offer interdisciplinary, PreK-12 lesson plans, resources and workshops about the way we live and how it impacts our environment.  These tools focus primarily on the garbage generated by individuals and businesses, consumption habits associated with that garbage, and solutions to help us "live well."  Easy to use, the resources and workshops are designed to help your students think critically and learn essential skills and concepts.  These resources will help you create learning environments that stimulate all students.

A great supplement to a school's existing curriculum, Pre-K-12 teachers who use materials say their students find the materials and activities meaningful and relevant because the issues are real-life and the lessons are hands-on.

Check out our brand new searchable database! Find and explore lesson plans that challenge students to think about how the systems in society influence lifestyle choices in ways that often are not good for environment. And browse other educator resources complete with links, book and video lists, and other tools to assist you in the classroom.

The Center for Energy and Environmental Education also offers workshops for you to learn how to help your students think critically about the garbage generated by individuals and businesses, and how this impacts current and future generations. View details or click to enroll.

What teachers say…

“I think this should be a community outreach program. If everyone got to see one portion of what we talked about some eyes would be opened.”

“…It is rare to enjoy a class as much as I did this one. Thanks for a high quality experience that was an instrument of positive change for me…”
“I asked the kids to rank order the following terms as to their importance for the earth: Incineration, landfilling, recycle, reduction, [and] reuse.
The vast majority ranked recycling as most important. But they changed their minds [to reduction] by the last day.” 

“In the past few months, my family has dropped garbage consumption by half…!”
Read how one Iowa teacher applied The Way We Live to her classroom: Elementary students uncover a story about milk waste in one Anamosa school

The goals of this program are to:

  • Provide current and future educators with accurate and fair content knowledge and resources to help them teach reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, good citizenship, and many other essential skills.
  • Provide forums for information exchange.
  • Foster relationships between Pre-K-12 teachers and local solid waste educators.



Partners and Supporters: The CEEE appreciates the support received for this project from foundations, non-profit and for-profit organizations, landfills, solid waste agencies, governmental agencies and corporations.

Portions of The Way We Live website were prepared with the support of the Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Alternatives Program.

Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP): Invest in Iowa, our outdoors, our heritage, our people. REAP is supported by the state of Iowa, providing funding to public and private partners for natural and cultural resource projects, including water quality, wildlife habitat, soil conservation, parks, trails, historic preservation and more.

Portions of The Way We Live website were prepared with the support of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Alternatives Program Agreement Numbers 08-G550-18, 10-G550-26, and 12-G550-25FL. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDNR.