Activity 4-2
Using Less Wood



  • To recognize the serious depletion of forests in the United States and its clear but not always thought of connection to wood consumption
  • To understand the variety of choices consumers can make to reduce the depletion of forests
  • To consider making choices to reduce wood consumption



Three-four class periods


Completion of a visual aid used in teaching others about alternatives and participation in small group teachings


  • consumer sovereignty free market, scarce old growth
  • secondary forest tree farm erosion hidden costs
  • wood conservation consumer action paper pulp clearcut
  • agricultural waste paper efficiency clearcut certified sustainable alternative fibers forest depletion "on purpose" crops-kenaf/hemp

Suggested Procedure

1. Display "The State of Our Forests", read with students and ask students what has happened to our forests.

2. Optional: Have students read "The History of Our Forests" and create timeline and graphs from the data. (or just use reading for background)

3. Tell students this quick vignette and discuss the moral of the story.

"An environmental activist yells at a logger who is entering work, to stop killing the forest. The logger responds if I stop doing my job, what are you going to print your propaganda on. The activist has no response and angrily retreats to his redwood shingled, old growth framed house. He settles down next to crackling hardwood fire reading a paperback made from Canadian rainforest pulp." (adapted from Sierra Club article "Shopper, Spare that Tree", July/August 1996)

4. Display "The Facts on Wood Consumption" and read with students.

After checking for understanding on wood consumption data tell the class "Wood is a valuable, useful product. We should use as much of it as we can." Have students respond in all class discussion.

Expect students to disagree. Reiterate student arguments by recognizing that although a renewable resource, wood is scarce, especially due to our history of forest depletion and current consumption habits. Student responses should address the economic and ecological benefits of intact forests. Perhaps have students create a diagram of those benefits such as wildlife protection, erosion prevention, earth's lungs, aesthetics, recreation. Connect their ideas to forest protection through consumer demand in a free market as opposed to government regulation. Finish by asking students, what can consumers do to conserve wood and protect forests. Try to organize their thoughts in some way such as:

a. habits-reduce, reuse, recycle

b. buy-recycled, non-wood alternatives, certified sustainable wood

5. Display "Jigsaw Activity-Consumers and Wood Conservation" and read with students. Pass out reading materials and review with students. Make sure that the 4 different readings are spread evenly among the students.

6. Arrange students in groups of four so that each member of each group has specialized in a different reading. In these groups, each student will present, following the guidelines from the transparency.

7. Debrief in all class discussion:

*What wood/forest conservation consumer choices do you like best?

*How do different habits impact life product cycles?

*What are obstacles to consumers making these choices?

(time, laziness, attitude, money in terms of alternative materials)

-Discuss government subsidies that help keep wood prices low.

8. As an additional activity during or after, have students track wood products they consume/use for a week. In a log format, have students record what they consumed, and alternative materials and/or habits they did or could use to promote forest conservation.


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