What is humane education? It's a lens, a body of knowledge, and a tool kit of strategies for teaching about human rights, animal protection, environmental stewardship, and cultural influences.
Zoe Weil, Institute for Humane Education (IHE) co-founder, passionately believes that humane education is "the most effective and important way to create an informed, conscious, and caring generation," and has trained hundreds of teachers in this philosophy.
Imagine what our classrooms—and our world—would be if schools adopted humane education as a foundation for learning. YES! recommends IHE resources for their ability to connect sound, meaningful content with integrity and compassion—just what students need to zing their learning taste buds and their passion for being change-makers.
IHE has a collection of over 70 resources on ethical consumerism. Here are four lessons that will help your students be more aware of the people and working conditions behind the millions of products available to them on the shelves and online. With this new awareness, your students will be more discerning next time they shop for t-shirts, shampoo, or a winter coat.
With each lesson, here are key questions to ask:
Institute for Humane Education Caring Consumer Card
- Is this a want or a need?
- How many do I already have?
- How much will I use it? How long will it last? What happens to it after I'm done with it?
- Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
- Will having this add meaning to my life?
- What is the true cost of this item to: My own health? Animals? The environment? Other people?
- What choice would do the most good and least harm for all?
What's your favorite shampoo or skin lotion? Why did you choose it? This activity gets students to think critically about the impacts that the ingredients in their personal care products have on themselves, other people, animals, and the environment. Students may also explore how branding and marketing influence their selections.
EXPLORE: What Price Beauty? for grades 8 and above
In this activity, students shop for t-shirts to help them make the connection between what they wear and the conditions under which they are made. After researching companies and factory conditions, would your students choose the clothing items they currently have in their closets?
EXPLORE: Where in the World? for high school and university grade levels
Students will explore the positive and negative impacts that a variety of products—from a sweater to a candy bar to a plastic comb to a hybrid car— have on themselves, other people, animals, and the planet. If there's time, your class can discuss whether or not there are better alternatives.
EXPLORE: True Price for grades 6 and up
For all 73 IHE consumerism lessons, click here
What's one way your students can be ethical consumers? With every product they buy or consume, they can ask this key question: Does this product do the most good and the least harm? Check out the Institute for Humane Education's Ethical Consumerism treasure trove of essays, websites, and blogposts.
Interested in more Institute for Humane Education resources?
- IHE E-News (teaching resource suggestions)
- Lessons on Environmental Protection
- Online graduate programs
- Online course: Teaching for a Positive Future 1
The Institute for Humane Education (IHE) is a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Surry, Maine. Founded in 1996, it offers graduate degree programs, online courses, workshops, summer institutes, and an award-winning online resource center. Through IHE programs, students and participants gain the knowledge, tools, and motivation to becomes "solutionaries" for a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable world for all people, animals, and the planet.