The Story of Stuff

In our never-ending pursuit of helping people to live cleaner, healthier lives, I wanted to take a moment to talk about stuff.

Several months ago, I stumbled on Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff“.

For those of you who have never heard of this before, on the surface it’s just a 20 minute video that looks at the real costs of our consumer culture.

At a closer view, of course, it’s much more than that.

We are pointed towards this meaning from the description on the film’s website:

Leonard examines the real costs of extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal, and she isolates the moment in history where she says the trend of consumption mania began.

Leonard started on this journey by asking a very basic, but very serious question:

Where does all the stuff we buy come from, and where does it go when we throw it out?

Okay, sure this is an important question, but it doesn’t explain the torrent of discussion (both supportive and critical) that this film has generated.

Whether you agree with everything that Leonard says or you don’t, I believe that the real purpose of this film (and the real reason behind the often heated discussions it generates) is to get you thinking. Period.

Thinking about the things we buy.

Thinking about where they came from.

Thinking about where they go after we are done with them.

Thinking about the short life cycle of so many things we purchase.

Thinking about how we are responsible for the choices we make.

Thinking about WHY we keep doing things that we know are harming the environment.

It is this last point that really stuck with me. Thinking about things in a different light is bound to polarize people, forcing them to pick sides and debate the issue.

In this case, I believe that the debate about whether the film is anti-Capitalism (ergo pro-Socialism), anti-government, anti-whatever else, has detracted from the point of it all: to get people to change.

Albert Einstein once said that insanity could be defined as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be labelled a loon.

This is why we really do have to change how we buy, use and dispose of the things we buy. I don’t believe that that can be disputed.

So I challenge you to watch The Story of Stuff. Think about what is said. Think about what you can do today that could make a difference tomorrow.

If we don’t make the change, who will?

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