This morning I talked about Dr. Suess’ The Lorax with a class of fourth grade students at John Stanford International School in Seattle. They have been having discussions about environmental issues, and we had a lovely conversation about the destruction of the truffula trees and the loss of Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans and Humming-Fish in the story.
We began by talking about the Once-ler and his decision to chop down truffula trees and build a business of selling thneeds made from truffula tree tufts. Was he responsible for the environmental destruction that ensued as a result of his decisions? Does the fact that he ultimately regrets his actions make him a better person? We talked about the other members of the Once-ler family who worked in the business, and about all the people who bought thneeds. Were they all responsible for the destruction of the truffula trees and surrounding habitat? When we purchase something, are we obligated to ask how it was made? Were the thneeds “useful?” What is the balance between creating things that make human life easier or more enjoyable, and caring for the environment in which we live? What is our responsibility to the environment and to other species affected by human decisions?