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Cradle to grave Project

The Lifecycle of a Product
Name: ____________________________________________________ Date: __________ Per: ______
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the
other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Aldo Leopold ‘05
A Sand County Almanac (1949)
If you are like most American consumers, you probably do not pay much attention to where things come from or where
they go when you are finished with them. You probably think that things come from the store and go “away” when you
no longer want or need them.
All consumer products have a life cycle. There are environmental (as well as social, political, ethical, and economic)
impacts that originate from the manufacture and distribution of the item, its use, and its disposal. You will conduct a
life-cycle analysis (LCA) or cradle-to-grave analysis in order to attempt to uncover and document the inputs (water,
energy, raw materials) and the outputs (products and wastes) for a particular consumer product. In essence, you will be
determining an ecological footprint for that product.
This diagram illustrates in general the
upstream and downstream effects of
most manufactured products.
Select your product: It could be a product that you currently use or that you know is widely used by your peers or in our
culture. SIMPLE IS YOUR FRIEND HERE! Unless you are planning to spend the next few years on this, don’t pick your
phone. Your product: _________________________________
Product Components
Find out and list all the things that make up that product (i.e., all the parts, components, or ingredients). You may also
make a labeled sketch of the product.
What products make up the individual components?
How are the resources acquired?
What is the environmental impact of getting these resources?
How are the resources modified to create the component part?
What type of and how much energy is used in the process?
What kind of labor is used in the manufacture?
What kind of pollution is generated?
List all of the packaging and/or marketing materials that are generated and used for the product.
Where do these materials come from?
How far are the products shipped?
How are they shipped?
What type of pollution is created?
Disposal and Recycling:
At the end of the life cycle, can most of the materials be recycled? If so, how?
Do most of the materials end up in a landfill? Are they incinerated?
What about the wastes at the production plant compared to the waste produced by the product itself?
Product Lifecycle Poster
Now you have all of the information about how your product is made, make poster of the entire life cycle. In pictures
and words show the process from start to finish. Include all of the information from above in a colorful, neat, wellorganized 11”X17” poster.