:: Starter Activities - Print Version

Product Pairs
This activity aims to help students start thinking about the values that lie behind their choices as consumers when they go shopping and have to decide which of a number of different products to buy.

When to use the activity
As an introduction to sustainability at AS level or as a revision activity at the start of an A2 year. It can also be used as an introduction to a product study or product analysis, especially where a comparison is required.

Who is the activity for?
This is more suitable for AS students, though worth using as a thought-provoking activity with A2 level students in a new school year. It is better done in groups to encourage discussion.

Sustainability issues considered
Teachers can tailor this to meet their own requirements by the products they choose to use. It is possible to consider all aspects of sustainability or it may be easier (especially where A2 students are involved) to try to look at environmental, economic and social issues separately.

Assessment criteria
This is an awareness raising activity as a result of which students should become more aware of themselves as consumers whose decisions impact on lives and livelihoods elsewhere. It is therefore helpful in thinking about fundamental issues.

The Activity and hints on how to organise it
• In advance, buy a selection of product pairs that are relatively good or bad from a sustainability point of view in the area you want to consider (economic, social, environmental or general). Number each product, e.g. 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B etc.

• Place the ‘paired products’ on a table at the front of the class or at points around the classroom where everyone can see them.

• Ask students to imagine they are going shopping and have your chosen products on their shopping list. Ask them to choose one item from each pair, note their choice and write down a brief reason foe their choice (e.g. looks better, know the brand, more reliable). Do not mention sustainability – they should make their choices as ordinary students.

• Report back on the reasons for their choices. Write them on a board and summarise the main criteria people use when making decisions as consumers.

• Raise the question of sustainability – is it a criterion commonly used in decisions as consumers?

• At this stage teachers may choose either to stop the activity and return to it when more work on sustainability has been completed or they may wish to follow up the sustainability issue immediately.

• To continue, give the students background information about the products in each pair and their relative sustainability.

• After the information has been handed out, ask students to consider their choices again. Does this lead to any changes in their choices?

It is possible to run this activity effectively using almost any commonly available product pairs to bring out issues
- Long life milk versus milkman’s local milk (brings out processing, energy use, transport and local employment issues)

- Fair trade, organic coffee versus coffee from a large international company (brings out fair trade, corporate social responsibility, transport and fertiliser and pesticide issues)

- Standard mouse mat versus recycled mouse mat (brings out recycling, reuse, packaging and product need issues)

- T-shirt made from unbleached, organic cotton and traded fairly versus t-shirt made in a sweat shop, using artificial pesticides and bleaches (brings out fair trade, toxic emissions and social impact issues)

Product Pairs - Extreme items - Environmental/ Social / Economic

Environmental issues

Remarkable recycled plastic cup pen, from www.remarkable.co.uk, tel. 0208 741 1234 (10 for £4.25) compared with a cheap biro sourced locally.

Issues to consider
• What is the barrel made from?
• How long does the ink last?
• Can old pens be reused in any way?

Organic cotton socks from www.naturalcollection.com compared with locally sourced synthetic socks.

Issues to consider
• Use of fertilisers and pesticides
• Use of synthetic dyes compared with natural colours
• Energy use

Compare the finger toothbrush with an electric toothbrush sourced locally.
For details of the finger toothbrush see www.no-shank.com

Issues to consider
• Energy in use
• Materials needed in manufacture
• Possibility of disassembly
• Packaging

Shopping Bags
Compare the Fair trade Sisal Durable Shopping bag £12.95 www.naturalcollection.com with any conventional shopping or plastic bag.

Issues to consider
• Durability
• Litter
• Waste

Social issues

Compare a Razanne doll http://www.islam4children.com/razanne.htm
Razanne Dolls £12.50 each inc p&p) with a Barbie.

For more details of Razanne, see Barbie Converts to Islam

• Do toys encourage awareness of other cultures or reinforce stereotypes?
• Use of materials to make toys – recycled textiles.
• Barbie to be made from recycled plastics?

Chicken soup
Compare a ‘standard’ chicken soup and kosher Jewish soup.
The Jewish religion includes dietary laws. These laws determine which food is acceptable and in conformity with Jewish Law. The word kosher is an adaptation of the Hebrew word meaning fit or proper. It refers to foodstuffs that meet the dietary requirements of Jewish Law.

Telma Chicken Parve Soup Mix £2.59

• What is the social and cultural impact of choosing certain products?
• Is it important to conserve culturally different ways of doing things?

Economic issues

Compare a locally sourced product made by, for example, Mars or Nestle with Green & Black or Divine Chocolate, both available locally or from www.goodnessdirect.co.uk.
An article by the Daily Telegraph's Rachel Baird warns, ‘Up to 40 per cent of the chocolate we eat may be contaminated by slavery.’

Ivory Coast is the world's biggest producer of cocoa beans with over a million cocoa farms and plantations. A British TV documentary, ‘Slavery,’ claimed that 90 per cent of Ivory Coast cocoa plantations use slave labour. Most are young men and boys from impoverished areas in Benin, Togo and Mali. They are enticed by traffickers who promise them paid work, housing and an education. Instead, they are sold to Ivory Coast cocoa plantation owners who beat them into submission and offer no pay for gruelling, 18-hour days. Big companies like Nestle purchase their cocoa on international exchanges where cocoa from Ivory Coast is mixed with cocoa from other countries and loses its identity as a slave-made product.

Compare Qibla Cola www.qibla-cola.com      Email: [email protected],
Qibla Cola Company Ltd
PO BOX 6440
Derby DE1 9NE
Tel: 01332 371 001
Call for details of your local distributor with a locally sourced coke.

The boycotting of major brands, such as Coca-Cola, across the Muslim world, has highlighted the anger felt by consumers towards such companies. Increasingly Muslims are questioning the role these brands play in their societies, and are seeking out alternatives - brands that don’t use the revenues they earn to support injustices.

Questions that Qibla Cola ask of other brands of cola:
1. Do your products contain any alcohol or animal extracts?
2. Does your company contribute towards the state of Israel or any other states that oppress Muslims?
3. Does your company contribute to third world causes?
4. Does your company exploit the work force in the third world?