Read the poem "A Sitting on a Gate" from chapter VIII of Alice Through the Looking Glass (the original recycler?). How does Lewis Carroll make us (a) smile and (b) feel sad?
Students could write a short story, or the introduction to a novel, set on a rubbish dump.
Read the conversation in chapter 24 of Our Mutual Friend in which Silas Wegg and Mr Venus conspire to search the "dust mounds" ("You've been as far as the gates then" to "surely never meant for nothing"). Note how Dickens uses sinister detail and absurdity, as well as the idea of dust, to subvert this treasure quest.