A childrenŐs mural on the wall of the Recycling School depicts a Zaballeen man recycling discarded items while whistling.

Imagine if recycling were not just a matter of protecting the environment, but of personal survival.

The Zaballeen have been collecting garbage in Cairo since the early 1900s. At the turn of this century, the government of Cairo began using foreign companies to haul garbage. These companies recycle just 20 percent of what they collect, and the rest is dumped into a landfill.

The GARBAGE DREAMS Game asks players to take on the role of the Zaballeen: to sort, process, and profit from the garbage collected in from Cairo’s neighborhoods. The film, the game, and the corresponding lesson plans explore recycling and the globalized economy.

Four standards-aligned lesson plans encourage students to learn more about recycling practices in their own communities and around the world:

Lesson Plans

  • GARBAGE DREAMS Game Overview
    An introduction to the GARBAGE DREAMS documentary and game, including key background information about recycling and descriptions of the contents of the lesson plans below.
  • Lesson One: “Viewing the Film” (grades 9-12)
    Examine the social and economic conditions that the Zaballeen people face as they earn their livelihood from recycling.
    (Subject areas: social studies, language arts, cultural studies, economics)
  • Lesson Two: “Playing the Game” (grades 6-12)
    Set the stage for playing the game, and align learning points with students’ daily lives.
    (Subject areas: social studies, economics, mathematics, Earth science)
  • Lesson Three: “We Recycle!” (grades 6-12)
    Provide opportunities for students to study the science and math behind the recycling industry.
    (Subject areas: mathematics, Earth science, economics)
  • Lesson Plans for Middle School Students:
    A series of activities specifically designed for middle school students.
    (Subject areas: social studies, language arts, cultural studies, economics)

Additional Educational Materials

Film trailer (6 minutes)

Garbage Dreams Photo File

Standards Alignment Chart (PDF)

All photos on this page: Gigie Cruz/GAIA

Get the DVD >>

Learn more about recycling >>

Share your thoughts on the film in Talkback >>

Home | The Film | The Game | Recycling | Behind the Scenes | Get Involved | Talkback | Film Credits | Get the DVD | Site Credits GARBAGE DREAMS home page Watch Preview