Activity 4-1
The Life Cycle of Newsprint

  • To understand the connection between natural resources and the products we buy, using a product life cycle model
  • To assess the impact on the environment of a product life cycle
  • To recognize how to create change in business and industry's practices



One class period


Completion of newsprint life cycle and modification to resemble actual model


  • product life cycle sustainable product life cycle durable
  • disposable renewable nonrenewable
  • three factors of production (land, labor and capital)

Suggested Procedure

1. Students work with a partner to devise a model of the life cycle of a newspaper from tree to disposal. (See Model: The Sustainable ... for form students can adapt.) Students should consider the land, labor and capital involved in its production. Tell students to write it all in one color pen and leave plenty of room around each part of their model for later steps.

2. Have students share their ideas in an all class discussion. Write down on overhead or chalkboard student ideas in a rough life cycle model.

3. Read Story: Newspaper. In original pairs, have students modify their models with a different color pen to resemble actual life cycle as story is told. Stop frequently to discuss what details should be modified from class model. Expect students to be mostly adding details that may not have been considered in steps one or two.

4. Have students respond to these questions in all class discussion:

*What have you added, deleted or changed from your model to make it reflect actual life cycle?

*Why do you think we did not include ______ in our first class discussion?

*What are the impacts on the environment at various points in the life cycle?

*What is sustainable about the life cycle of a newspaper? What is not?

*How might part of the process change to have less impact on the environment?

(alternatives to materials, treatment, distribution, use, disposal, newsprint itself)

5. Show students Model: "The Sustainable Paper Cycle" or have students suggest how to make various steps of the newspaper life cycle more sustainable (and use the Model as background for yourself)

* Recognize that this model is NOT specifically newspaper, but paper overall. You may want to adapt this model with ideas from last page of "Newspaper" story.

*Introduce concepts of renewable/nonrenewable resources and durable/nondurable products. Identify trees as renewable, and newspaper as disposable. Have students think of examples of renewable (trees, water and sun for energy), nonrenewable resources (oil, minerals); and durable (cloth napkins, ceramic plates) vs disposable products (paper napkins, paper plates). Have students assess the impact of these differences on a product life cycle and the environment. For example, the less durable or more disposable a product, more of it will be needed (and therefore produced) and more of it will go to landfill.

*What makes a company change the life cycle process of a product?

e.g.- government regulation (pushed by citizen pressure)/consumer pressure (boycott) consumer sovereignty


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