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Topics

CER Writing, Life Literacies and Key Skills

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects

English Language Arts, Career Readiness, Life Literacies, and Key Skills

Duration

70 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey

Format

Google Docs, Google Slides

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This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Analyzing Greenwashing

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 6, 2022
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SubjectToClimate

In this lesson, students analyze the concept of greenwashing of products. 


Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch videos related to greenwashing and look at examples of green products on the market.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students design a green product with a marketing campaign. 


Step 3 - Inspire: Students analyze the word choice that their peers used in their presentations of their product.

Positives

  • Students create a product and then see what effect their product has on consumers. This will show students how greenwashing occurs within marketing campaigns.
  • This lesson includes media literacy components.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should be familiar with the term greenwashing and be able to explain what is regulated by the FDA and what is not regulated by the FDA.
  • Teachers should understand the term green is not regulated by the FDA, but the term organic is regulated by the FDA.

Differentiation

  • The term greenwashing is an abstract concept, so it may be hard for students to grasp. Showing other examples of greenwashing may help students better understand the concept.
  • Teachers can show students different labels or advertisements and have students analyze whether they consider each example greenwashing or not.

This lesson introduces students to greenwashing and then presents Trader Joe’s as a case study. Students are tasked with designing their own green product and an accompanying marketing plan. The lesson informs students how companies can mislead them with products that only seem environmentally friendly and gives tips on how to spot greenwashing. This lesson is recommended for teaching. (The only small issue with this lesson is that an advertisement for a VPN is included in the Trader Joe’s case study video, but that's just part of using resources from YouTube.)

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.3 Deconstruct a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
  • Career Readiness, Life Literacies, & Key Skills
    • Life Literacies and Key Skills
      • 9.4.8.IML.8: Apply deliberate and thoughtful search strategies to access high-quality information on climate change (e.g., 1.1.8.C1b).
  • Teacher displays emotion vocabulary chart and conducts a poll to check in with students and ask how they are doing today.
  • Class creates a word cloud of the word green.
  • Teacher asks, “What comes to mind when you hear the word green?
  • Teacher writes the word green in a cloud on the board, and students write clouds attached to the word green. Students fill in the clouds with words that they associate with the word green. Answers could include science, nature, environment, health, etc.
  • A word cloud is a visual representation of words that people associate with a particular item.
  • Teacher displays the definition of green, and students predict what the term “greenwashing” might mean.
  • Students watch Everything You Need to Know About Greenwashing and answer guiding questions.
  • Students watch Why Is Trader Joe’s So Popular? and answer guiding questions.
  • Students share two questions they have about greenwashing.
  • Students choose any company to research. Students go to the company’s website and answer the following questions:
    • Does the company have a climate action plan? If so, what is it?
    • What eco-labels are the company associated with?
    • Can you spot any red flags for greenwashing?
    • What is the company’s environmental or sustainability policy?
  • Students design a green product with a marketing campaign. The goal of this marketing campaign is to see if consumers (their peers) will be convinced that their product is a sustainable product even though the only word on the product will be green.
  • Students pick a type of product that they want to market. It could be anything from dish detergent to deodorant.
  • Students create a mockup of their product either by drawing it or by creating the product on the computer. The word green must be on the product, but the product should not make any other claims such as being organic.
  • Students show their product to 20 people and write down the first five words that come to their mind when they see the product.
  • Students collect data on the Student Worksheet. For example, if the word healthy is used 10 times, there should be the number 10 next to the word healthy on their table.

  • Students make a word cloud with their data.
    • This link is a free word cloud generator.
    • The words that were used most frequently should appear bigger.
  • Students present their word clouds to the class.
  • Students write a claim-evidence-reasoning paragraph in response to the question "Can green products be misleading?"
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