wear what we want--without have to think about where it came from?
I just read this quote in the short article "Downstream from your jeans" by Corinne Platt-Rikkers in a Patagonia catalogue:  "Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other crop. And humans use more cotton than any other fiber."
Like food, our clothes connect us to this great network, and they are something young people put some thought into already--maybe even a lot of thought..
I love to connect them to the garment industry, and the people their age who are working in factories all over the world. This is a very engaging and enlightening experience for them.. but I never thought to go all the way back to the cotton.
The other thing they are [maybe too] connected to is their phones.  These are becoming the center of their world in many ways.  In my World History class we're studying industrialism, which is not only too easy to link to sustainability, but I would say at this point it should be an essential theme of the unit.  We've been looking at news video clips from last year when Apple and its factories [Foxconn] were being scrutinized for the increasing suicide rates.  You could hear a pin drop in the classroom of hyper 14 year olds..   Foxconn's reactive solution was/is to put nets around the bases of their buildings to catch the jumpers. Their proactive solution was to have workers sign a contract pledging not to commit suicide (this is real).  The suggested causes included 'pressure to produce,' as the factories could not keep up with demand for these sexy new devices..  so that we, these students, could have them, when they want them, at the price they can pay..  If a factory can't sustain life, what needs to change?  What is the really proactive solution?  These are the questions we'll be looking at. And the answers aren't in China--they're here. They don't just involve factory conditions, they involve values.  And not only should these kids be thinking about those values that would help a global economy become more sustainable, but about what active citizens and consumers need to do to get there.

03/08/2013 1:33pm

Wow! This is powerful stuff! I've read about mindful eating- being aware of not only the food in front of you, but of all stages of energy and development that went into it; but the materials our objects are made from, as well, isn't really a direction too many of us think about. I mean, what choice do we really have? ...playing Devil's Advocate, here... How will you approach this with high school students? Simulations? Scenarios? Role-playing? I can't wait to hear!


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