Activity 11: The Life Cycle Assessment Debate
In this activity students identify key questions that can be asked about any product before buying it. Recognizing that life cycle data are not readily available and that answers are not always easy to find, the outcome of this activity is a blueprint for students to help guide their consumer decisions. Students debate the advantages and disadvantages of similar products and learn to appreciate what it means to “buy green.” This opportunity to clarify their own values may motivate students to seek information and make meaningful choices about products that they or their families purchase.
Full Activity (with student pages included)
- Ecolabel Index Website – An informative directory of environment-related product labels from around the world.
- Purchasing Guidelines for the Environmentally Conscious Consumer – A fact sheet that provides a general discussion about buying environmentally friendly products and a set of questions that consumers can ask before buying a product.
- Think Green Before You Shop – An infographic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that provides an overview of questions to ask and factors to consider when purchasing products.
This activity was engaging and fun!
The debates were so successful and the students really got into the discussions. The assessment was easy for my students and they needed no assistance from me at all.
I did this activity right after The Real Cost. It was a good way to keep the same conversations going from the previous days.
As an opening question for the activity I had students brainstorm pairs of products (I gave them one to get them started). I also had students choose one of the pairs and write an opinion paragraph. For the closing of the activity, students reflected on the original opinion paragraph and had to explain how thinking had or had not changed.
I added a parent component. I had the students talk to their parents about a recent purchase and discuss why they chose one item over another. It was interesting to hear the comments and it allowed the students to share what they are learning in class.
The kids are interested in how to make changes.