University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Field of Philosophy: Environmental ethics

Plot Summary: The Once-ler moves into the Lorax’s community and begins chopping down truffula trees in order to build a business of selling thneeds made from truffula tree tufts. This causes the destruction of the truffula trees and the loss of Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans and Humming-Fish in the story.

Some discussion questions:

Was the Once-ler responsible for the environmental destruction that ensued as a result of his decisions?
Does the fact that the Once-ler ultimately regrets his actions make him a better person?
What about the other members of the Once-ler family who worked in the business, and 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?”
Why do you think the Once-ler didn't listen to the Lorax?
If you were the Once-ler would you have listened to the Lorax? Why or why not?
Do you think there was anything else the Lorax could have done to stop the Once-ler?
What does it mean to be greedy? Do you think the Once-ler was greedy?
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?