Connect and Engage :: Consumption

Resources to accompany the January/February 2008 Education Connection newsletter on The Story of Stuff and Consumption: Facing the Future, The Center for Ecoliteracy, UNESCO, and Redefining Progress.
snapshot of January/February 2008 Newsletter

Teaching Resources on Consumption

from the January/February 2008 YES! Education Connection Newsletter

READ NEWSLETTER: Teaching about stuff… and everything else

:: Facing the Future
:: The Center for Ecoliteracy
:: Redefining Progress

Facing the Future logo

Facing the Future

SEE WEBSITE :: Facing the Future

It's all connected!
Climate change. Population growth. Poverty. Environmental degradation. Conflict. Global health crises.
Intractable global problems? We don’t think so.

At Facing the Future we believe in the transformative power of widespread, systemic education to improve lives and communities, both locally and globally. Our positive, solutions-based programming is designed by and for teachers, and effectively brings critical thinking about global issues to students in every walk of life. We work within the education system to help teachers help students achieve academic success, while preparing them to create and maintain positive, healthy and sustainability communities. We provide curriculum, teacher workshops, and service learning opportunities used by teachers, schools, and districts in all 50 states and over 50 countries. By 2020, Facing the Future programming will reach over 12.5 million students each year.

Facing the Future offers innovative curriculum for teaching about global issues and sustainability. These free lesson plans for grades 5-12 complement teaching The Story of Stuff:

Facing the Future curricula [SIGN-IN REQUIRED]

Is it Sustainable?

Students define and discuss sustainability and its 3 key components: the economy, the environment, and society.

Systems Are Dynamic

Students experience the dynamic, interconnected, and self-organizing nature of systems through an exercise in which they move around an open space trying to stay an equal distance between 2 other people.

Making Global Connections

Students demonstrate the interconnectedness of global issues and solutions through a kinesthetic exercise using global issue cards and a ball of yarn.

Shop Till You Drop?

In this simulation, students experience how resources are distributed and used by different people based on access to wealth.

Watch Where You Step!

Students identify the components of an Ecological Footprint by creating a web diagram of all the resources they use in their everyday lives and the mark or “footprint” this consumption leaves on the environment.

Fueling the Future

Students compare energy use and CO2 emissions by sector in the United States and China (and optionally in another country).

Livin’ the Good Life?

Students develop indicators to measure quality of life and conduct a survey of peers and adults to obtain data for their indicators.

Creating Our Future

Using an action-planning model, students visualize their desired future, identify objectives, develop a plan to address local and global issues, and implement their vision through action and service learning.

Sign up for Facing the Future's free newsletter to stay informed about curriculum resources on sustainability and global issues, teacher workshops, professional development, and service learning ideas.


Center for Ecoliteracy logo
image from Center for Ecoliteracy website

The Center for Ecoliteracy

SEE WEBSITE :: The Center for Ecoliteracy

The Center for Ecoliteracy is dedicated to education for sustainable living. In the words of CEL cofounder Fritjof Capra:

We do not need to invent sustainable human communities. We can learn from societies that have lived sustainably for centuries. We can also model communities after nature's ecosystems, which are sustainable communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms. Since the outstanding characteristic of the biosphere is its inherent ability to sustain life, a sustainable human community must be designed in such a manner that its technologies and social institutions honor, support, and cooperate with nature's inherent ability to sustain life.

The processes and patterns by which ecosystems sustain themselves have evolved over billions of years. Designing human communities that are compatible with nature's processes requires basic ecological knowledge, which is one of the key components of ecological literacy.

The Center is a pioneer in providing tools, ideas, and support for combining hands-on experience in the natural world with curricular innovation in K–12 education. It administers a grant program and donor-advised funds, publishes extensively online and in print, and offers resources, seminars, and technical assistance in support of systemic change. It was founded in 1995 by Fritjof Capra, Peter Buckley, and Zenobia Barlow.





UNESCO graphic

UNESCO — United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


Teaching and learning for a sustainable future.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is a multimedia teacher education programme published by UNESCO. It contains 100 hours (divided into 25 modules) of professional development for use in pre-service teacher courses as well as the in-service education of teachers, curriculum developers, education policy makers, and authors of educational materials.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future will enable teachers to plan learning experiences that empower their students to develop and evaluate alternative visions of a sustainable future and to work creatively with others to help bring their visions of a better world into effect. It will also enhance the computer literacy of teachers and build their skills in using multimedia-based resources and strategies in their teaching.

See UNESCO curriculum materials.



Redefining Progress logo
image from Redefining Progress website

SEE WEBSITE :: Redefining Progress

EDITOR'S NOTE: This organization's link no longer exists. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Redefining Progress, in partnership with Earth Day Network, has developed single-day environmental education lesson plans for K-12 educators. The lesson plans are designed to integrate easily into science, social studies, math, and/or economics curricula.


DOWNLOAD :: Lesson Plans

Food and You

Designed to incorporate environmental education into general math and science classes for elementary school students (K-5th grade), this lesson encourages students to think about where their food comes from, the food production process, and the byproducts associated with their favorite foods.

The Trash We Pass

This lesson brings environmental education to middle school (4–7th grade) social studies, math, and science classes by asking students to have fun analyzing garbage and recycling options.

Have and Have-Not

This lesson incorporates environmental education in middle school (7–9th grade) social studies, geography, math, and economics classes by helping students gain a perspective on different consumption habits in developing and developed countries, and the effect that mass consumption has on the ecological footprint of a country and an individual.

Sustainable Dining

Designed for lower high school (7–10th grade) economics, home economics, and general education classes, this lesson teaches students about sustainably produced groceries as a valuable and environmentally friendly option for grocery shopping.

Renewable Energy

In this lesson targeting high school history, science, and math classes, students will analyze the use of energy in their every day lives, and consider the advantages and disadvantages of environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.

Kid’s Footprint

For more lesson plans, please visit , our adaptation of the Ecological Footprint Quiz for elementary and middle-school students.

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