Humane Educator's Toolbox: Global Closet Calculator

Image screenshot National Geographic Education.
As humane educators, we know it can be challenging to uncover the hidden costs of our product choices and where they were made.

National Geographic Education has created a little interactive tool called Global Closet Calculator, which can help students begin to think critically about the global connections and impact of their clothing and product choices.

The tool is divided into two sections. Students begin by creating their own avatar.

The first section focuses on clothing choices and where those clothes are made. Students are encouraged to inventory their closets and record how many of what items were made in which countries. Categories include tops, bottoms, shoes, and "other," -- each of which is further divided (t-shirts, work shirts, sweaters, etc.), so that students can be somewhat specific.

Once students have finished recording their various items, the tool creates a map, showing all the countries where their items were made. The map can be added to, and it can also be filtered type of  clothing item.

The second section helps students think critically about the challenges of balancing choices that do the most good and least harm with issues of economics. Students must choose either an mp3 player or jeans and make choices about the various components of those products. Based on each choice made, a brief video explains the consequences of that choice.

While this tool addresses issues of globalization, the true cost of products, human rights, and similar social justice issues on only a basic level, for students unfamiliar with these topics, it provides a useful and interesting introduction. Make sure your students know this tool oversimplifies the issues, and use it as a helpful springboard for further exploration.

~ Marsha

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