top of page

Consumption Detectives: An Imagination Exercise
This activity uses an affective-reflective pedagogical approach to sustainable consumption habits to help students understand their own connection to, and responsibility in, global consumption and production networks.


By: Shirin Betzler, Jessica Jung (both: Osnabrück University), Lisa Hollands (Vechta University), and Regina Kempen (Aalen University of Applied Sciences)

Session type: Single session, Undergraduate level, Small, medium or large size (flexible)


  • Personal consumption

  • Consumption as habitual

  • Global connectedness

  • Mindfulness


Introduction to the teaching example:

The goal is to raise awareness about the everyday contact points with pertinent action opportunities and responsibility for acting more sustainably in one's own life and at school in relation to plastic, food, and garments consumption areas. The activity aims to draw attention to how consumption is linked across borders as well as foster critical thinking and introspection. Students are encouraged to question their purchasing patterns and lifestyles, which increases their awareness of their sentiments and opinions on sustainability issues as well as their sense of accountability regarding current consumption challenges. 


The purpose is to encourage students to reflect on and emotionally connect to  global producer-consumer-networks, and to bridge the psychological distance to the producers behind consumed products.. Students are provided time for introspection, which enables them to take accountability for their consumption habits and reinforce personal norms. A willingness to engage in change or reinforce existing change by devising their own courses of action should result from emotional participation and awareness in this exercise.


The activity is divided into two main sections: a guided imagination activity and a classroom discussion. Students are encouraged to settle into a relaxed position and close their eyes before beginning the guided imagination. Then, the teacher directs the class to picture certain scenarios in their everyday life related to consumption in a narrative, imaginative way. For example, students can be asked to picture themselves standing in their bedroom in front of their wardrobe to choose their attire for the day as a way to reflect on their consumption of clothing:"Where did this clothing come from? Who is the creator of this garment? Do I still recall where I purchased it?” Etc.


The experiences that occurred during the imagination phase are then debriefed and explored in three steps during the second phase of the exercise. The first step is for the participants to go back and elaborate on their feelings and thoughts from the imagination stage. The conversation then turns to how students see their position in a global network, including issues like feeling remote from the producer and lack of awareness about product origination. The third step entails a discussion of open questions and the pooling of individual viewpoints.

bottom of page