BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Morality in Purchasing

Soc.Just. 12


Morality in Purchasing

Big Idea

The causes of social injustice are complex and have lasting impacts on society.

Essential Question

How can ethical consumerism promote social justice?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • processes, methods, and approaches individuals, groups, and institutions use to promote social justice

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions
  • make reasoned ethical judgments about controversial actions in the past or present after considering the context and standards of right and wrong (ethical judgment)

Core Competencies

I can communicate my findings about a company’s labour practices in a variety of forms.

I can evaluate a company’s labour practices and judge to what extent a company should be held responsible for the ethical failings of an outsourced third party.

I can make reasoned ethical decisions about how to use my purchasing power.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
  • State that between 1815 and 1957 there have been about 300 international agreements implemented to suppress slavery. However, today there are more enslaved people today than during the Atlantic Slave Trade; at least 40 million worldwide, annually generating around $150 billion. Over half of slaves are found in raw materials and manufacturing.
  • Ask “How Many Slaves Work for You?” Have student use the NGO website Slavery Footprint and complete the online questionnaire to estimate how many slaves were used in the manufacture of items they have in their homes. Ask students to take the quiz honestly and write down their results.
  • ** Ensure that students put their correct age, otherwise an adult question will come up about use of sex workers.

  • Debrief the quiz:
    • Point out that no brand names were asked for. Ask: What does this tell you about the accuracy of this quiz?
    • Have students click on Methodology at the bottom of the webpage. Ask: Where does this site get their information? Are these credible sources? How do you know?
    • Have students turn to a partner to share how they felt about their results. Ask: Were you surprised?

Written Reflection: How do your choices about what to buy affect other people in the world?

Part 1: Modern Slavery

  • Show the video Modern Day Slavery, 25min, Foreign Policy Association, Feb 24, 2015.
  • Have students complete the Viewing Guide. Afterwards, discuss answers.


Part 2: Case Study

  • Pose the discussion question: To what extent should a company be held responsible for outsourced third party failings in labour ethics? Should ignorance of the outsourced third party’s actions be an excuse?
  • Explain that in the class action lawsuit Doe v Nestlé USA, 2005, alleged Nestle aided and abetted (which generally means to provide assistance or encouragement to someone committing a crime) human rights abuse regarding child labour and slavery in the Ivory Coast cocoa plantations.
  • Provide students with copies of the Doe v Nestlé USA, 2005 Case Study handouts.
  • Have students read CASE STUDY Doe v Nestlé USA, 2005
  • Students should work in small groups to answer Discussion Questions. Afterwards discuss responses as a whole class.


Part 3: Inquiry Project

  • Explain that students will research the product chain in a company and assess the level of ethics in their labour practices, justify their assessment in a formal paper, and then as a class educate their school peers on their findings by collaborating to create a bulletin board to be displayed in a public area .
  • Provide students with handouts for Inquiry Project: Morality in Purchasing, including list of some possible companies, ethical labour rubric, ethical labour practices worksheet, and brand ownership infographic.
  • Provide students with access to digital resources listed in the Additional References section as a starting point for their research.
  • You may want to have the teacher-librarian provide a review of research skills, including citations, footnotes, bibliographies.
  • Be sure to provide time for presentations and consider having students give peer feedback.

Written Reflection: What did you learn? What were you surprised about? What was your reaction to the final product created by the class?  Will this project change your purchasing habits? Why or why not?

BBC video “Nestle failing on child labour abuse, says FLA report”, 2011 (part 2 -- 3 week follow up)


 Antislavery International. 2020.



BBC. Ethics Guide. 2014. “The Law Against Slavery.”



Clean Clothes Campaign. [n.d.]. “Resources.”



Clean Clothes Campaign. “Tailored Wages 2019: The State of Pay in the Global Garment Industry.”



CNN – The Freedom Project. [n.d.]



Ethical Consumer. 2020.



Ethical Trading Initiative.  [n.d.] Modern Slavery



End Slavery Now. [n.d.]



Foreign Policy Association. 2020. “Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.”



Global Slavery Index. 2018.



Human Rights Watch. 2018. “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry.”



International Labour Organization. 2014. “Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour.”



International Labour Organization. 2020. “Forced labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.”



International Labour Organization. 2019. “Child labour statistics.”



Know the Chain. 2018. “ Eradicating Forced Labor in Electronics: What do

company statements under the UK Modern Slavery Act tell us?”



Labour Behind the Label. [n.d.] “Resources.”



The Surprisingly Broad Implications of Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe for Human Rights Litigation and Extraterritoriality (justsecurity.org)


United Nations Development Programme. 2020. “Human Development Reports.”



United Nations Human Rights. Office of the High Commissioner. 2020.



United Nations. 10 December 1948. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”



UNICEF. 2019. “Child Labour.”



U.S. Department of State. 2019. “Trafficking in Persons Report.”



US Department of Labor. “2018 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.”


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Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

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