Lesson plan

Mindful Consumerism

Practicing mindful consumerism is an important aspect of social and emotional learning. In this lesson, students will learn about consumerism, its impact on society, and tips on how to buy less.
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Students will be able to define the word "consumerism" and discuss and set goals on how they may consume less.

(10 minutes)
  • Join students together in a circle, either seated or standing.
  • Share that today we are going to reflect on what we purchase and where the things we purchased are made and under what conditions. Share that an important part of mindfulness is understanding the causes and conditions that create things.
  • Place the items made in China on a desk in the front of the room.
  • Show and hold up each item for the class and ask, "Where do you think this was made?"
  • Explain that all of the items were made in China and that most things you find in stores are made in China and countries in Asia.
  • Point out the continent of Asia on the map.
  • Pair students up in partners.
  • Ask each partner to look at the tag on the shirt of their partner to see where the shirt was made.
  • Say, "Raise your hand if you shirt was made in China."
  • Ask, "What are some other countries where your clothes are made?"
  • Explain that when we buy something we are called a "consumer."
  • Write "consumerism" on the board.
  • Explain that when many people buy goods, this is called consumerism.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out the Less is More worksheet.
  • Tell students that they will watch a short video, and they will need to write down the definition of consumerism and the questions to ask themselves from the movie.
  • Play the video "Kids & Consumerism."
  • Pause when the definition is presented to allow student to write this on their paper.
  • Pause as needed for students to take notes.
  • Ask, "What stood out for you from the video? Why is consumerism a problem? What are questions to ask ourselves before we buy?"
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to students that research has proven that when we practice mindfulness, slowing down, and asking questions before buying, we make better choices for ourselves and the items we may buy.
  • Ask them to sit up nice and tall and to take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask them to imagine that they are in the store, buying a piece of clothing that they really like.
  • Ask them to imagine that they look at the tag and it is made in another country. Ask them to notice how they feel in their body when they "desire" the clothing and read this label.
  • Guide them to take a few deep breaths and to ask the questions in their mind: "Do I really need this?" (Pause) "Will this last, or is it cheap?" (Pause) "Where was this made?" (Pause) "What were the conditions like for the people who made this?" (Pause) "Do I want to support this and this company?"
  • Invite them to take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask them to imagine that they put the item back and to notice how they feel.
  • Ask them to open their eyes when they are ready.
  • Ask, "What did you notice? How do you feel?"
  • Ask, "How can being more mindful of what we consume help our community, environment, and the world?"
  • Explain that they will have some time to set goals for themselves connected to buying less and helping the environment and not supporting factories that employ workers for low pay and long hours.
  • Review the rest of the Less is More worksheet with them and share that they will be organizing a clothing swap.
  • Ask if they have questions.
(20 minutes)
  • Dismiss students back to their seats to work independently on their Less is More worksheet. Be sure to field any questions students have and provide support when necessary.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to generate a list of companies (B corporations) that hold social and environmental responsibility and their primary goal and present their findings to the class.

Support: Work one-on-one or in small groups with some students during independent work time that need extra support.

(5 minutes)
  • Walk around the room and check student comprehension of mindful consumerism during independent work time.
  • Collect the Less is More worksheets to check comprehension.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring students back together in a circle.
  • Ask students to share their plans for mindful consumerism in trios.
  • Have a few trios share what they discussed.
  • As a class, make a realistic goal around reducing consumption.

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