Circular Economy
A lesson that compares capitalism, sustainability, and the circular economy.

Today’s Activities


Have you heard of the circular economy? Before you watch the video, record your initial thoughts about what you think circular economy means.  Watch the video What’s Circular Economy?

Leveled Learning Extension: What does the term “single use” mean? Look around your home and find 5 examples of items that are “single use.” For each item, think of one additional way it can be used before being thrown away.


1. Visit the following website and identify the key characteristics of capitalism and some of its advantages and disadvantages.

2. What is sustainability? Watch the video and identify the key characteristics of sustainability and some of its advantages and disadvantages.    


1. Create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the key characteristic of sustainability and capitalism. 

2. Consider or discuss the following questions: 

  • How might capitalism promote the efficient use of resources (i.e., natural resources, capital, labor)? 
  • How might capitalism lead to environmental degradation and resource shortages? 
  • How might the concept of creating a circular economy connect capitalism and sustainability?

Leveled Learning Extension: How does it save money to reuse an item instead of throwing it away?


1. Research companies that are promoting the idea of the circular economy in their business plan. Here is a website that may help get you started.  

2. Share with a parent, teacher, or friend a company that you might support now or in the future and why.


1. Read an evidence-based article concerning capitalism and environmental sustainability. Note: This is one of many perspectives concerning the issue. Click here for an article that addresses the problems capitalism poses for environmental sustainability and here for an article discussing the merits of both arguments.


2. Explore ideas about how you can make your household more sustainable.  For example:

  • How does recycling work in our community?
  • What does it mean to be zero waste?
  • Can you create a composting system at home?

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Teaching Tips

Accessibility Feature

Turning on transcripts for YouTube Videos [PDF]

Single-use vs Reusable

Include your student when making a shopping list and planning the grocery budget. Have a discussion about the cost of certain items over a period of time: for example, a single-use bottle of water compared to a water bottle that can be reused for many years.

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