4: True Cost of a Water Bottle
learn how to estimate the true (full) cost of a water bottle, and what
that means for our environment. The Final Project will be due at the
end of this lesson. (See Lesson 1)
of class periods: 2
Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
- RST. 6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
- RST. 6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
- WHST. 6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.
Educatiion for Sustainability Core Content:
- Sustainable Economics D3, D6, D7
Question: How are we all going to live well within the means
Question: How do the choices we make affect the sustainability
of local and global communities?
What is the cost of a water bottle?
• What is the price of a water bottle?
• What is the difference between cost and price in this case?
• What resources should be considered when determining the true
cost of a water bottle? (For example, labor, factory space, transportation,
• What quantity of petroleum products is used in the production
of water bottles (in barrels)?
• What is your estimated ‘true cost’ based upon your
• What other costs can be measured besides petroleum? (For example,
water used in production, landfill space for discarded bottles, and
paper for the labels….)
for this lesson:
students take out their responses from the previous evening’s
homework. Ask: “What is the price of a bottle of water? What is
the cost of a bottle of water?” Allow students to discuss their
responses in small groups and then record out what was discussed. Clarify
the terms: “cost” and “price.”
- the quantity of one thing usually referring to money that is exchanged
or demanded in exchange for another
- the loss, penalty or impact involved in achieving a goal
the previous lesson regarding the resources used in producing water
students to predict the amount of petroleum and water that is used (in
gallons) to produce a year’s worth of water bottles in the US,
the number of bottles discarded, and the amount of landfill space currently
taken up by water bottles.
each student the handout “True Cost Calculator” (included).
Ask students to explain why they think it is called ‘true cost.’
Make sure before starting the data research that students understand
what true cost means.
or full cost: cost of a good when its direct (internal) costs of production
(such as materials, energy and labor) and its indirect (external)
costs (such as the effects of its pollution to air or water, on health
and the environment) are included in its market price. The Paper
Trail: Connecting Economic and Natural Systems The Cloud Institute
for Sustainability Education 2007 NY
the URLs for the two sites on the computers the students are going
to use. Students then investigate the internet resources about the life
cycle of a water bottle and compare their findings with their predictions.
complete “True Cost Calculator worksheet.” Give the following
answer questions 1 and 2 of the worksheet using the web pages individually
work together to answer questions 3 – 5
class reassembles the students answer questions 6-8 together.
question #8 to help students realize their impact on the environment.
Show students a one gallon container to help them visualize a gallon.
students complete an Exit Ticket before they leave class on “What
have I learned about the true cost of a water bottle?”
You are the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration
and you have been directed by the President to enforce the new law that
outlaws plastic water bottles. Describe your alternative, and design
the assessment criteria by which it will be rated. Share your ideas
with the class; rate each others’ designs, and compile a master
list of the class’ best thinking.
cost - the price of production
• landfill - a system of trash and garbage disposal in which the
waste is buried into the earth
• petroleum: an oily, flammable liquid that occurs naturally in
deposits, usually beneath the earth’s surface; it is primarily
a mixture of hydrocarbons, with traces of nitrogen and sulfur compounds;
obtained from wells drilled in the ground, and is the source of gasoline,
kerosene, fuel oils, and other products
• price - the quantity of one thing usually referring to money
that is exchanged or demanded in exchange for another
• true or full cost - cost of a good when its direct (internal)
costs of production (such as materials, energy and labor) and its indirect
(external) costs (such as the effects of its pollution to air or water,
on health and the environment) are included in its market price.