Cute, Comprehensive Video; Frightening Topic

Posted on 22 June 2009

One of my friends forwarded me a link to an online video the other day: “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard.  It represents a really great project and I was immediately convinced that everyone should watch (Check it out!  At; don’t worry about how annoyingly perky she is—just watch.  Hehe).  It’s worth the 20 minutes of lecture, especially considering the topic of the film (sustainability, the health of our planet, the future of humanity, how we’re trashing everything and need to stop now).  I know, the title—though intriguing—is not the kind of “click me, click ME!” title that tends to prompt that automatic click-impulse—even from a self-proclaimed environmentalist like me (wonder whether they would’ve had better luck with a link like “Save the baby otters!” or “Unhappy?  We have answers!”).  All in all, however, I think it was a very clever way for Ms. Leonard to ensure the publicity and eventual sales of her forthcoming book on the Story of Stuff—so you can get the full version on paper!

Just in case you feel like you don’t have time, though, I thought I’d share some notes from the film—which you should all watch, don’t forget!—that can be read in only a few minutes and perhaps provide a little food for thought (courtesy of Ms. Leonard and her vigilant research).   

Main Points:

         A linear system (i.e. boundless, unfettered consumption) cannot be sustained indefinitely in a finite environment (earth)

         If you don’t own or buy a lot of stuff then you don’t have value

         Erosion of the local environments and economies that have sustained communities for generations ensures a constant supply of people with no other option seeking work in polluted industrial environments

         Modern American industry has successfully externalized costs; in other words, the monetary cost of the products we buy has been entirely isolated from their actual social, environmental and (ultimately) monetary costs

         We need a system that doesn’t waste resources or people

         Leonard’s approach to the problem is based on sustainability and equity, and includes: green chemistry, zero waste, closed-loop production, renewable energy, and local living economies; she reasons that people created the old way, it didn’t just happen—and so now it’s in our hands to create (and follow!) a new way


 Fun Facts:

         In the past 30 years, 1/3 of the earth’s natural resource space has been consumed

         Less than 4% remain of the forests that originally covered the United States

         40% of the United States’ waterways have become undrinkable

         The United States comprises 5% of the world’s population, but uses 30% of the world’s resources and produces 30% of the world’s waste; if everyone around the world consumed at this rate, we would need 3 to 5 additional planets to supply and absorb all that stuff

         75% of global fisheries are now being fished at a level that is either at or beyond their capacity

         80% of the world’s original forests are gone; in the Amazon alone, 2,000 trees are lost per minute—or the equivalent of 7 football fields a minute

         Over 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used by American commerce today; none of these have been tested for their synergistic health impacts, or the combined effect that they have on our bodies

         Out of everything in the food chain, breast milk has the highest level of many toxic contaminants—making a person’s infancy, if they are breast-fed, the most intense period of exposure that they will have to these chemicals throughout their lifetime

         Globally, 200,000 people a day move from their local, often rural environments to cities in search of work

         U.S. industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment each year

         Only 1% of the products bought in the United States are still in use six months after their date of sale; in other words, 99% of the products we buy are trashed within 6 months of being bought

         The average person today consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago (back when stewardship, resourcefulness, and thrift were still popular values)

         President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors Chairman said: “the American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”

         The theory popularized by industrial design journals of the 1950s was to manufacture things that quickly become useless or easily ruined/broken, so we have to throw it out and buy a new one

         In the U.S. today, each person is targeted by over 3,000 advertisements a day, or more in one day than people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime; and all of them tell us, in their own way, to be unhappy with what we have

         According to polls, our national happiness is actually declining; it peaked in the 1950s, or about the same time that national economic policy was shifting toward the consumer model (i.e. “consumption-mania”)

         Some analysts say we have less leisure time today than we have at any time since feudal society

         The two most popular leisure time activities of modern Americans are watching television and shopping

         Americans spend 3 to 4 times as many hours shopping than our counterparts in Europe

         The average American house size has doubled since the 1970s

         Each American today makes an average of 4.5 pounds of garbage a day, or twice as much as we made 30 years ago

         Dioxin is the most toxic man-made substance known to science, and it is created by burning trash

         For every can of garbage you generate, there are 70 cans of garbage created by American industry

 Starting to feel like a lemming, yet?  Hmmm…yeah.  Scary.

No responses yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Posts

Tag Cloud

American culture aranui baking balance beef biking blogging Boston bugs Canada city life commuting culture DC diet environment Europe film Fish fish pond food French friendship garden health history holly Home litter luck marquesas moving phone photography service shopping socialism spring start stuffed animal Travel Washington DC water filter website Work


EmBlog is proudly powered by WordPress and the SubtleFlux theme.

Copyright © EmBlog