Down In the Dumps


A Play by Heartland All Species Project ©1989, 5644 Charlotte, Kansas City, MO USA 816/361-1230

This play has been performed over fifty times by elementary and high school age kids. It can be performed by as few as four or five. It was originally written for a class of students to perform. There are parts for over twenty in the play including stage hands and sound effects. Feel free to adapt it as you wish. Please send us a donation so that we may pay ongoing expenses and continue creating educational material. Donations can be sent to the above address. Good luck and let us know how it goes. Thank you.

(Stage set with junkyard heap, played by actors wearing plastic trash bags with bits of the material they represent glued on and lying around on the stage............a girl walks on stage, walking her bicycle that has an obvious flat tire and possibly other problems...)

(Voice from off stage or wings calls out:)

Hey Susie!

Susie: (Dejected) Yea...

(Boy runs on stage and catches up with her...)

Joe: Hey, what's wrong?

Susie: Oh, I got a flat tire, and my chain keeps falling off...This bike is a piece of junk!! (She pushes bike over or sets it down and kicks it.)

ENTER Mother Nature (in a puff of smoke or cloud of confetti...)

Kids: Wow, who are you??

MN: I'm Mother Nature. I'm the spirit of the Earth. (coughing, bending over weakly, leaning on her staff) I've been really sick lately.

Kids: What's wrong?? How come you're sick??

MN: Just look at that dump over there for one thing.

Joe: I saw it - Uggh! (Susie nods)

Susie: Oh Yuk!!

MN: (Passionate tone, working toward understanding) People want so much of me. They take my resources and strength...They use things once and throw them away. You humans live your lives as if there is a never-ending supply of everything, of me...and when you live like that, you create a lot of trash and pollution. That's what's making me sick.

Kids: Us? We don't do that.

MN: (Even more passionate)

Yes you do. You all do. You don't seem to understand. Take trees, for example - Trees are the way I breathe. They take carbon dioxide from the air and give off oxygen so animals and people like you can breathe too.

Susie: That's right. We learned about that in science class.

Joe: Right! or yea!.

MN: Long ago, I had plenty of trees to spare, but now so many of them have been cut down...

(Groans and sounds from dump)

Joe: What's that noise?

Susie: It's coming from that dump...

MN: It looks like piles of old newspaper. They were once trees you know... (She lifts her arms in the direction of the dump) Arise paper...

Paper: Phew! Thank you. We overheard you talking about us. We've been so sad buried here in the dump and just wasted. We could have been recycled and used again.



Pretty paper, pretty trees, pretty forest, pretty please
Pretty easy, savin' trees, please recycle, pretty please

Verse 1:

A stack of paper shorter than me, saves a forty foot pine tree
Think of all the news I need, think of all the trees I read

Verse 2:

Would you believe the old trash can is where the forest often lands
Thrown away with so much ease, in the road and in the breeze

Verse 3:

Put your paper in the recycle bin, we'll turn around and use it again
We'll grind it up and make insulation, we'll have a warmer and safer nation


(Pretty Paper is on the tape, In Tune With All Species)

(MN and kids clap for the performance...)

MN: It's so easy to recycle.

(She transforms the paper... note: Transformation process can be done a number of ways. We suggest a "recycling center" made up of children with movement and sound or a water heater or mattress carton painted to look like a recycling machine or a magic sheet with the words "Shazam" that would be passed over the objects in transformation. Maybe both, or find your own ideas...)

MN: Announces the recycled materials as they are brought foreword. Cellulose insulation to keep your house warm - Recycled paper etc. as appropriate

(Cellulose insulation can be purchased at or donated by a hardware store.)

Susie: Mother Nature, is there anything else in that dump that you could recycle??

MN: I'm glad you asked. Of course there is.

Joe: How about those cans over there?

(Mother Nature lifts her arms and says:)

MN: Aluminum cans arise.

Cans: (Zsa Zsa Gabor type characters)
Can you imagine that? Being tossed into that horrible dump as if we were... junk...Oh!

Cans: And here we are such valuable, precious metals...mined and refined at great cost in energy and Amazonian trees.

Suzie: Does aluminum come from trees?

Cans: Oh no dear girl. The trees must be cut down to get to the earth beneath that holds the ore.

I just can't believe it. First I was tossed from a car and then into that dump - Ridiculous, isn't it??
I am worth a lot these days, and with the savings in energy used to recycle me...
I could be as valuable as gold!

(They move toward recycling...)

(After recycling)
Aluminum storm windows, new aluminum cans. etc. as available.

(Aside to Mother Nature)
And by the way, we've got some friends in that dump that would like to be used again too.

MN: Right...Plastic bottles arise...(She lifts her arms.)

Plastic bottles: (They come right on out with this rap:)


We're plastic bottles, we never break down
You find us layin' all over town
Be buried here for a million years
You'd run out of oil, be wet with tears.
So wise up Jack bring us on back
Your earth is dyin' and that's a fact
Grind us up and melt us on down
Extrude us through a form - square or round.
Make us into lumber that'll never rot
Help ya save trees too, they're all you've got
They pull CO2 out of the air
And help us chill out a planet so fair. (or rare)

(Plastic immediately heads toward transformation...)

(after recycling)

 MN: Plastic lumber, containers, hard hats! etc. depending on what is available.

Joe: What about glass bottles??

MN: (Nods) Glass arise. (Lifts arms...)

Glass bottles: SONG (to the tune of "Poor Lost Sheep" Wiffen Poof Song)


We're poor glass bottles who've been thrown away
Bad Bad Bad
We could've been used twenty more times
Bad Bad Bad
If folks just knew how precious we are
They wouldn't throw us out of their cars
They'd use us over again and again
And we'd all be wearing a happy grin
We're poor glass bottles who've been thrown away
Bad Bad Bad

(They sulk off toward transformation...)

Joe: That's really pathetic.

(after recycling)

MN: New glass bottles!

Susie: Well, I guess that's about it, huh??

MN: No, I'd like you to meet one of the most important prisoners in the dump...the compost heap. Compost can be very important in our gardens and it shouldn't be found in the dump. Well, I'll let them tell you...

(She lifts her arms strongly and compost comes out like gangbusters...)

Compost: RAP


Been cut and raked, bagged and dumped
Just lyin' here in an old wet lump
Could'a been thrown in a compost heap

Turn to soil, give you lawn a treat.
We take lots a room in the old landfill
Takin' lots a money from the taxpayers' till
Save the haulin', put us under a tree
Feed all your plants for the low cost of -- Free.

Mix some green with mostly brown
Give us some dirt from outa the ground
With bacteria and some tiny mold
In time you'll see it's better than gold

Put us in a pile and turn us once a week
Add table scraps and other food treats
We'll get real warm through microbial action
And you'll feel a heap of deep satisfaction.
Ah! (a sound of deep satisfaction from everyone)

(They jive on outta there and the kids say: "Wow")

(After composting)
MN: Compost and of course new plants!!

Joe: That was great. I never knew that re-using stuff was so important.

MN: Recycling does help to save the homes of all the plants, creatures and humans. It is very important.

(All elements from dump gather behind MN and kids...Then move into choreography for...)



You buy what you want, but what do you need?
Food, shelter, clothing and some lovin' indeed
Seems we throw away megatons of stuff
We're kind of addicted, can't get enough.

What we gotta do now,... back off and rethink
Before our planet goes on the blink
We got the Greenhouse, the Ozones, the Acid Rain
We're settin ourselves up for a lot of pain.

Say you recycle paper but the price is down
It's cause were not makin it go around
You gotta buy recycled, Create a market

There just ain't no more places to park it.
There are things you can buy that'll just hafta go
This is our country, this is our show
If we don't buy it, they won't make it
It's a money cycle and only we can break it

So here we are, you know some of the problems
Will you promise right now to get busy and solve 'em
Do what you can anyhow and any way
And don't forget what we've had to say.

(General goodbye..Junk pats the kids on the back, etc...)

 MN: You have been show something very special
today. Please share it with other humans.

Kids: We will!!

MN: I feel a little better now, but I should be going...So many things to take care of...

(MN and kids hug each other and say goodbye...She disappears.)

Joe: Well, now what??

Susie: First things first...I've got to fix my bike - It's no piece of junk! (She picks up her bike and they begin to walk off)

Joe: And I think I'll start a compost pile in my backyard...and tell Dad to save the newspapers...

(They walk off talking about what they’ll do...)

Little Blue Ball - Words and Music by Douglas Wood

Verse 1:



Did you ever notice the old big dipper and wonder what he dips all night
He's dippin out wisdom, dippin out love, dippin'out a way of life
And if you notice the ol' big dipper, you're gonna' see all the other stars
And if you look around to where the light comes down,
You're gonna' see just where you are




You're gonna' see you're on a little green speck,
on a little blue ball in a big black sky all alone.
And you know we gotta take good care of that little blue ball
Cause you know it's the only home we'll ever own.


Verse 2:

Did you ever see a little wild flower and wonder why she smiles so bright
She smiles because she's the bloom of love in a world that's made just right
And each little leaf of every wild flower is a work of art you see
But if we mow ‘em all down and tear up the ground we ain't livin' like we oughta' be


Verse 3:




Did you ever hear a little spring peeper and wonder why he peeps so loud
He's happy 'cause he made it through another winter he's smilin' and he's feelen' proud
And if we take good care of the things we share, The forest, and the water, and the sky
We can all be proud, and we can laugh out loud and that peeper he's tellin' you why.

(Little Blue Ball is on the tape, In Tune With All Species)

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5644 Charlotte, Kansas City, Missouri 64110 816/361-1230
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