Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 4: Story - Paper, Plastic, or Cloth?

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story and prepare to present it.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

Participants consider how to act responsibly as stewards of the planet, by hear and discussing a story.

Read or tell the story.

Lead a discussion, with these questions:

  • What reasons are stated for why the Tanzanian government wants to decrease the use of plastic bags? Were any of these reasons new to you?
  • Do you believe plastic bags cause similar problems to the ecology of our community? Why, or why not?
  • Do you think legislation is a good way to insure more responsible ecological behavior? What other ways might work?

Ask the youth for their observations about paper, plastic, and cloth shopping bags. Allow some comments, then say:

Not too many years ago, there was a movement to return to the use of paper bags instead of plastic. Then, the movement toward cloth bags moved into the mainstream of American life.

In terms of what we eat, people started demanding organic food in order to ingest fewer chemicals. But some organic food has to be shipped long distances, creating a heavy carbon footprint. Now many people advocate for eating locally. Yet, sometimes local fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in the grocery store cost much more than non-local items. This means people with lower incomes may have to choose: Should I be responsible to the earth, or to my household budget?

Every day we are learning more about how production and consumption of our food and other goods affect the earth. Is it hard to sometimes know which action is most responsible towards the earth? How do we find a balance-use moderation-when we have to make decisions about being ecologically responsible?