Everything is made from natural resources, some of which are
renewable and others of which are not.
To identify how many resources are used to produce an item and
why each resource is so important. To have students examine
their own use of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources,
determine which are essential for their survival and suggest
ways they might change their lifestyles to make more careful
use of natural resources.
Most resources are renewable if we have a million years to wait
for their production. Renewable resources can be remade in a
relatively short time period. Nonrenewable or finite resources
may take millions of years, and only if conditions are right.
We would like to think we can "manage" our renewable
resources, yet we have failed, given the depletion of oil supplies
and the rapidly increasing rate of extinction of plant and animal
species. Wise use and conservation must be stressed so that we
can maintain our resources over the long term.
1. What is a natural resource? Define
and list several examples.
2. Define the term "renewable"
and "nonrenewable" resource. (Some renewable resources
are: solar energy, water, food and wood. Some nonrenewable resources
are: petroleum, tin, bauxite, coal, copper, and lead.)
3. Use an object that youth are familiar
with to explore how many resources are used to make it. Youth
should realize that everything is made from natural resources.
Example: computer, pencil, house, bicycle, car, softball. List
all the raw materials needed to produce whatever object you have
chosen. Decide if the resources are renewable or nonrenewable.
Discuss the implications of exhausting limited resources. (i.e.
the politics of petroleum)
cement (sand, water)
electricity (coal or oil)
stone or rock
4. Have students list a product they
used or consumed between the time they got home from school yesterday
and when they went to bed.
Describe a scenario or event and as
a group; list what products were used.
5. Discuss which products are made
of renewable resources and which of nonrenewable resources.
Classify each product as: essential to survival, maintenance
of lifestyle, or a luxury. Discuss:
Which, if any, items listed in the
"essential" category are really not essential for survival?
Explain your response.
Do you think your parents and grandparents
would place the products in different categories? Why or why
6. After discussing the lists, suggest
alternatives for each item, making an effort to replace items
that you think are inefficient or wasteful with items that are
less wasteful. Discuss:
Would using alternatives increase your
use of renewable resources (e.g., buying milk in refillable (and
ultimately, recyclable) glass bottles rather than in plastic
jugs or paper cartons)?
How might changes in the production
and consumption of these products influence the economy and the
Look at the list of items you listed
as luxuries. Which items could you give up without major change
in your lifestyle?
Make a list, beginning with the easiest
item to give up and ending with the most difficult. Could you
give up the top three items on this list for a day, week, or
month? Try it. How do you feel about it?
Think of several ways to reuse and
recycle items you decided you can't give up.
Identify some of the economic, cultural
and environmental impacts of any changes you make or recommend.
Consider the implications if your entire family, school, community
and country made such changes.