This is a good activity to do in Science Week - microbes and moisture will do all the work for you, leaving your hands and brain free to get stuck into the excitement of Science Week.
You will need
A box of chocolates, or if you're a committed researcher (or hungry) try to get a few boxes with different packaging materials (ahh, the things we have to do for science!)
What to do
What you do with the chocolate is up to you, but all good things in moderation and sharing is caring. What you really want is the packaging.
Place the packaging in a warm damp spot if possible. Outside is probably a good idea.
Come back at the end of Science Week and have a look. You may see a lot of change or almost none at all - depending on the type of packaging you had.
Some brands of chocolate are now using biodegradable, organic packaging. If you used this type, you would have noticed this package disappearing over time.
Bacteria and fungi found in the air and soil biodegrade organic matter in a process called composting. Have you ever seen food scraps turn into juicy, rich looking soil? In compost, micro-organisms from the soil eat organic waste and break it down into simpler parts. This requires a balanced, healthy micro-organism population - something to devour and air and water - but if it is unbalanced you may end up with certain micro-organisms dominating, like in a mouldy month old lunchbox.
If your packaging did not break down, it was made from plastic which may potentially never break down and sit in landfill forever - squashed down under the ground.
Packaging needs innovation; the stuff surrounds us, it piles up at landfills and seems to wrap up every thing we use.
New biodegradable packaging may help to solve our mounting waste problem. Made of cornstarch, this packaging breaks down in your compost to carbon dioxide and water in only a couple of weeks. You can help the planet by choosing products that use biodegradable packaging.
Try and think of other ways in which you could innovate to make packaging more sustainable?
For more information see 'The Pack Pack' - a teacher's guide for primary aged students. We have five of these great resource kits full of activities, ideas and problem solving to giveaway . If you would like one email firstname.lastname@example.org by August 18. We will give the first five emails one of these fabulous resource kits.