Is new always better?

Is new always better?

1. Real Life Situation

altI get pocket money each week. I can decide to buy some things for myself or save my money to buy a big thing for myself. Last year I saved all my money to buy a new bicycle for myself. This year I have decided to spend all my money every week. This week I bought some sweets, a magazine and on Friday I am going to the cinema with my friends.

But I have a dilemma, next month it is my big sister's birthday. Last year she bought me a new radio for my birthday which I like a lot. I want to buy something nice for my sister but it will cost a lot of money. My sister likes weird stuff; she is really interested in the environment and does not like things that cause pollution. Hmmmm...what can I buy her that is not too expensive and helps the environment. I will ask some friends for advice. Maybe my grandparents will have some good ideas, they are always saying how much better it was in their childhood!

2. Introduction

altI have decided to make a birthday present for my sister instead of buying something so it will be unique and different. It will also save me money and might help the environment if I recycle and reuse some household objects that are otherwise going to be thrown away.  Plus I will be surprising her with a present that nobody else will have! I just need a little more inspiration. Are there alternatives to always buying things?

3. Task

The main activity of this webquest is to organise an exhibition or mini campaign in your school themed "New life for old stuff".

You will focus on:

- What alternatives are there to purchasing?
- How does our consumer behaviour affect the environment?
- How can we make an unique present for a friend?

The other activities are to encourage you to investigate, gain knowledge and ideas to create a new product from old objects.

4. Activities


Activity 1: What is consumer behaviour?

Activity 2: Journalistic interview "Are there alternatives to buying?"

Activity 3: An exhibition "New life for old stuff"

Activity 4: Traffic Light Rules

Activity 5: "New Life for Old Stuff!" Campaign


 Activity 1: What is consumer behaviour?

Every day there are factors that affect people's decisions on whether to buy something and what to buy - this is called 'consumer behaviour'.  You will investigate if and how we should change our consumer behaviour to benefit the environment.

Work in small groups of 4.


Part 1: "The story of stuff"



Your teacher will show you some clips from a short film called "The story of stuff".

During the film try to answer all the questions in the Film Questionnaire .

In your group discuss your answers:

What ideas and conclusions did everybody reach?

Has everybody reached the same conclusions?

What have you learnt?

Do we need to change our consumer behaviour?


Part 2: Overconsumption is costing us the the earth

Nature provides humans with all the resources necessary for life including food and water, energy for heat, electricity and transport and construction materials for our roads and homes.  You will investigate how our consumption of these resources affects the environment.


Try to answer the following questions:

What is the current pattern of consumption? Watch these short films film 1 and film 2 for some ideas.

What affect does this have on the environment? Look here and here for more ideas

How should we manage the waste we produce? Find further information here and here.

Why we should reuse? (You can find some helpful information here , here and here)

What do you think a 'green consumer' is?



 Activity 2: Journalistic interview "Are there alternatives to buying?"

Interview at least 5 of your friends and relatives about their 'consumer behaviour'.


Use the questions on the Interview Form and record your answers.  

Bring the results from your interview back to school so you can share your findings with your group.

As a group, try to think of things that you have bought or gifts that you have received that you haven't really needed or used and then ideas for alternative gifts that wouldn't cost anything.

Use the Alternative presents table to record your ideas.


Produce a report or presentation to share your findings and conclusions. Present them to the rest of the class.



 Activity 3: An exhibition "New life for old stuff"

In your group you will create a present to give to a friend. Your group has to develop at least four different and new items using old and unused objects and/or other materials.


Get inspired! You can create presents made of unused and old products and materials

an you find other examples of homemade presents? What about wrapping the gift? How could you make your packaging more environmental friendly as well?


Organise an exhibition for your class to display your creative presents. Each group should organise a special exhibition place to present and/or sell its products.




 Activity 4: Whole class activity 'Traffic Light Rules'

As a class, discuss "What can we change about our consumer behaviour?"

Develop "Traffic Light Rules":

Green rules represent what you should do to be an environmentally conscious consumer 

Red rules represent what you should stop doing in order to reduce your impact on the environment.



 Activity 5: "New life for old stuff" campaign


Use the knowledge you have acquired and the ideas you have come up with during the activities to organise an event in your school. For example a mini-campaign using the idea "New life for old stuff" or an eco fashion show made of old and used materials.

5. Reflection

Write down three things you have learnt about consumer behaviour and what the alternatives are to buying.

Write down two things you would like to find out more about.

Choose one of these things, how could you find out more about it?

Consumption learning wall

6. Conclusion

7. Teacher notes

Age:  10 - 12


Total: 3 hours

Activity 1: What is consumer behaviour? (30 minutes)

Part 1: "The story of stuff"

Part 2: Overconsumption is costing us the earth

Activity 2: Journalist interview "Are there alternatives to buying?" (60 minutes)

Activity 3: An exhibition "New life for old stuff" (60 minutes)

Activity 4: Traffic Light Rules (30 minutes)

Activity 5: "New life for old stuff" campaign


Curriculum / subject (cross-curricular links):


Design and Technology


Learning Objectives:

By the end of the webquest all students will:

Be aware of reduce / re-use / recycle principles.

Realise the importance of their own behaviour in terms of responsible and sustainable consumption.

Recognise the negative effect of consumer behaviour on the environment.

Be able to invent new creative products and gifts made from unused /old products and materials.


"The Story of Stuff" video can be viewed at http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/

Choose the clips most appropriate for your class.

Teacher assesment framework