Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development



The connection between what we consume and the resources that go into making it is often not directly apparent. The ecological footprint and the product lifecycle concepts are tools for measuring the environmental impact of consumption choices.

Main Idea

Consumer choices and environmental degradation

Key Concepts

      • Environmental footprint
      • Assessing consumption patterns


Knowledge of

      • the depletion of non-renewable resources
      • the degradation of renewable resources

Understanding of

      • the ecological footprint
      • a product lifecycle

Ability to

      • identify non-sustainable trends in consumption
      • describe “greener” production and consumption methods

Core Readings

  1. Determining the Impact of Human Activity
    Explanation and statistics on ecological footprint (4 pages)
  2. Changing Today’s Consumption Patterns for Tomorrow’s Human Development, pages 1-13
    Primary concern is no longer depletion of non-renewables, but degradation of renewable resources and high inequality (13 pages)
  3. Design for Sustainability, pages 21-24
    Explanation of product lifecycle with example of a tee-shirt (4 pages)

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Eco-City
    Green business, agriculture, energy, and construction opportunities (1 page)
  2. City Garbage Recyclers
    Recycling of organic and inorganic waste for environmental conservation and cash (1 page)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Global Energy Production and Consumption
    Trends and statistics in per capita energy consumption worldwide (1 page)
  2. Global Water Withdrawal and Consumption
    Statistics and graphs of global water use (1 page)
  3. YouthXchange – Toward Sustainable Lifestyles (
    Resources for many aspects of sustainable lifestyles

Assignment Questions

  1. Consumption: Explain the concept of an ecological footprint. Summarize the statistics on ecological footprints and consumption levels.
  2. Consumption: Identify some of the non-sustainable trends in global consumption patterns.
  3. Consumption: Explain the concept of a product lifecycle. Give examples of environmental damage and natural resource depletion related to the products we produce and consume.