Case: Walking in the city

Categorie(s): Cases, City life, Ecology, Indonesian cases, Waste

Was your T-shirt produced organically?

Have you ever been to the mall? There are so many things in there, like clothes, food, medicine, etc. Maybe your parents give you permission to choose your own goods. Did you ever think where the things come from? Maybe not, but you must know that many of the things that we use or eat have traveled long distances until we buy them.
What you buy or consume makes your footprint on the earth, partly nearby and partly far away, perhaps on the other side of the Earth.
By choosing certain goods, we can support natural conservation, or give a contribution for poor people, or the opposite: we can support the people who damage the environment, or make the producer even richer.
What you buy or not buy can make a difference for the world.
Do you want every cent of the money you spend useful for our life? Or do you care who benefits from your money?

Think of this:
When you buy something that is cheap, it often is expensive somewhere else or for somebody else.
(think of very low pay, pollution etc)

You can study these problems in different ways:

Assignment 1:

The steps:

  1. Divide the group of students in groups of 3 or 4.
  2. The groups go together to the mall (Each group gets a small amount of money to spend).
  3. Each group is asked to buy 2 kinds of goods (of the same type so you can compare): 1 representative good that is environment friendly, and the other the opposite.
  4. Discuss the result from your shopping, and find information and answer about 2 questions:
    a. Why do you think that the thing that you choose is environmental friendly and the other one not?
    b. What is the difference between the two things you bought?
    c. Present both products to the class explaining why the one is environmentally good ant the other not. Make clear that one can make a choice for more sustainable shopping.

Assignment 2:

The steps:

  1. Make (together)  a list of 10 things that everybody uses: some kinds of food, clothes and shoes, things for the bathroom, like soap or toothpaste, technical products (perhaps radio or mobile telephone) etc.
  2. Divide the class in groups of 3 or 4.
  3. Each group goes to the shops where you can buy these things and try to find out where the things have been produced. (Perhaps different parts of the products come from different countries!)
  4. Make a big map of the world*), hang it in the classroom and draw a sign on every country where one or more of your products have been made.
  5. The map will show you where your ‘footprint’ is.

*)  You can copy this map, or project it when your school has a beamer.

It can be very useful to plan your work using the working plan in 7 leaps


– study the ecological, social and/or economical aspects of the products: How are they grown or made? Is the production clean? Do the workers get a fair pay?
– What happens with the products afterwards, do they become waste or even pollution or can they be recycled?

This case is also availablein Indonesian : Kasus Perkotaan 

Assignment suggested by
Siti Wahyudini (Bogor), Ika (Surabaya), Andhiani Manik K (Semarang)
Aryani Arimbi (Mataram)