Play the Dumptown Game


You Are Dumptown's New City Manager!

When you start to play, you'll see Dumptown at its worst — it's littered, polluted, and nothing is being recycled or reused. There are many trash cans and dumpsters, but no recycling bins. That means all of the trash is going right into the landfill just outside town, where it isn't doing anyone any good.

In your new position, you can start programs that encourage Dumptown's citizens and businesses to recycle and reduce waste.

You have 10 programs to work with. Each time you try out a new one, you can see immediately how the Dumptown landscape changes. You also see how much waste you are saving from going into the landfill.

Oh, and because the people of Dumptown are paying for these programs, we've given you a way to keep track of how much money you're spending on their behalf. (That way, you won't lose your job by going too far over budget.)

If you haven't looked around Dumptown yet, do it now before you start the game. Then, roll up your sleeves and get to work turning Dumptown into Recycle City!

Quick Start

To be able to play the game well, we urge you to read the following instructions. But, if you really can't wait to get started, here's what to do:

  1. Click 'Play the Game' at either the top right or the bottom of this page.
  2. Click on City Hall.
  3. Click on a program. Read the program and figure out what it will do.
  4. To use the program, click Try This Program and Done. (To skip the program, click Done.)
  5. Watch what changes in the Dumptown scene.
  6. Click City Hall to return to the Control Center and check the charts to see what's changed.
  7. Click another program, or click the Look At Town button to see Dumptown again.
  8. To stop playing, click Quit Game.

How to Play

Image of City Hall

After you have a good idea of how Dumptown looks at its worst, click on City Hall to get to your Control Center. That's where you can see which programs are available.

Image of Control CenterThe Control Center

The Control Center helps you keep track of which programs you've started. At a glance, you see how much waste and what kind of waste is in Dumptown's waste stream. It also shows you how much waste has been kept out of the landfill and how much the town is spending to achieve these results.


Image of Programs in Recycle City

To find out about the programs that will help you manage Dumptown's waste, you can click on one of the pictures, or icons, inside the Programs box. Clicking a program icon will give you information about what the program does and how much it costs to start using it. If you decide to use the program, a check mark appears on the picture to remind you that you're using the program to clean up the town.

Image of current waste graphsCurrent Waste

This box lets you keep track of how many tons of each kind of material are going into the landfill. (Paper and cardboard make up the biggest part of any waste stream, so you know you'll need to start some programs that involve paper recycling.)

When you begin, the waste measurements will be completely red. That tells you that everything is going into the trash. Nothing is being reused, recycled, or reduced. As you try out the programs, the red inside the bars will go down, showing you how much less of each kind of waste is going into the landfill.

Image of waste recovered graphRecovered Waste

On the right side of the Control Center screen, there's another box. At the top, you can see how many tons of waste your programs have recovered. Below it are two bars. They show the total amount of waste going to landfill and how much it is costing to run the programs you've chosen.

The bar marked Overall Waste shows how much of the total waste stream has been reduced, reused, or recycled by the programs you have chosen. (Not all waste can be recovered. So, even when you are using all the programs in this game, some waste will still be going into the landfill, as you can see. But you will have done all you can in this game to reuse and recycle as many materials as possible and make the city's waste stream much smaller.)

The Total Cost bar shows how much you're spending, and it shows the maximum amount you can spend in the game. (After trying all of the programs, you might find that you still haven't spent all the money and still haven't reached the top of the bar. That's because some programs actually SAVE MONEY, and help reduce the total cost of your waste reduction programs.) Remember, you may not want to spend all of your money!

Image of file structureExploring the Programs

Clicking on a program icon, such as the Reuse Center, takes you to a screen that tells you about it. You can choose one of the folders to read a description of the program to find out what it does, investigate the hard facts, and sometimes, read a short case study that tells you how the program was used successfully in another city or town.

At the top of the screen, you'll see how much the program will cost. For some, the cost is negative (-). That means the program will actually SAVE you money and will REDUCE the total amount of money you are spending.

On the right, you can see icons showing the different types of materials that will be reduced, reused, or recycled because of the program. Sometimes the program only manages one kind of waste, so you'll only see one picture. Other programs manage many different materials. Below each icon, you'll see how many tons will be saved by using the program.

One program, Home Recycling Pickup, is different from the others. It lets you start a curbside recycling program for Dumptown homes that picks up basic recyclables, such as paper and glass. Then, by clicking the special green folder, you can upgrade the program to increase the kinds of materials that can be picked up and recycled through your Home Recycling program.

Image of program featuresTrying the Programs

It's simple to try out the programs. When you decide to use one, just click the Try This Program box at the bottom of the screen. Then click Done. If you don't want to try the program, just click Done. (You can change your mind and stop using a program at any time by returning to the program's screen and clicking the checkbox again.)

As soon as you make your choice, the town will reappear. Watch carefully. There are all sorts of changes that take place. Some of them are subtle, and some are major (like whole new buildings that appear). Eventually, Dumptown will look better and better and begin to look more like Recycle City.

To add another program, just click on City Hall to get back to the Control Center.

Image of small section of control centerWhenever you want to stop playing, click Quit Game.

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Imade of graphs for Current WasteDoing More

Image of Waste Recovered graphIt's fun to watch the town change. But, you may also want to keep your eye on the information that the Control Center gives you. That way, you can get a better idea of how much waste each program diverts from the waste stream. You can also compare how much you are spending to how much waste is being saved.

By using the Control Center to keep track of the changes, you can figure out how all of the programs are working together and the effects they are having on Dumptown.

If you are playing Dumptown in class, your teacher may have assigned some goals for you to reach. If not, try playing the Dumptown game using some of these goals:

  1. Reduce the amount of paper going into the landfill as much as possible, and spend as little as possible doing it.
  2. Remove as much organic waste from the waste stream as you can.
  3. Set an overall spending limit ($200,000, for example) and find out which combination of programs within your budget achieves the most waste reduction.
  4. How much waste can be saved by programs that have no cost to the city?
  5. What is the best combination of programs for Dumptown? (This is a hard one. It may take up to an hour to try all the programs and figure out the all of their costs and benefits.)
  6. Can you think of additional ways to reduce waste that aren't in this game?

Play the Game!

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