Apologies for Cross-Postings
"Laurenteen Brazil" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 10:31:19 -0800
Subject: [CRRA] The Story of Stuff
What is the Story of
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our
lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden
from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled
look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The
Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of
environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more
sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you
laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your
To see and learn more:
http://www.storyofstuff.com/ ...Enjoy and share as
CRRA Board of Directors
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 18:53:25
Subject: [GAIA] The Story of Stuff by Robert Weissman
The Story of Stuff
by Robert Weissman
December 06, 2007
Right now, representatives of the governments of the world are meeting
Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate international agreements to forestall
Necessarily, these negotiations will revolve around technical,
matters. What targets should be set for reduced greenhouse gas
Which countries should adhere to which targets? Should there be
rights trading, and if so, how should trading systems work? What
mechanisms will be established to help developing countries transition
cleaner production methods and leapfrog over polluting technologies?
there be special mechanisms established to protect forests? How
global trading rules be altered? And on and on.
The world desperately needs these negotiations to succeed, for
science-based emission targets to be set, and for principles of
justice to shape the allocation of rights, duties and financial
obligations needed to avert climate catastrophe. And whatever progress
be achieved in Bali, the better.
But we also need something else, which will almost surely precede
agreements and serious commitments to undertake the massive economic
social reorganization that the threat of global warming -- and other
pending ecological catastrophes -- commands.
That something else is a broad public understanding of how the system
fits together. Not just how important it is to change from incandescent
compact fluorescent light bulbs or the value of recycling -- though
things are vital -- but how the present system of making,
selling, buying, using and disposing of things is trashing the planet.
we're going to save ourselves from global warming, we're going to have
do things differently.
That's where The Story of Stuff comes in.
"The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard" is an engaging new
short film that
explains the "materials economy" in 20 fun-filled
Produced by Free Range Studios, which developed "The Meatrix"
animated short about factory farming that ranks among the cleverest
of Internet technologies to deliver a politically progressive message
The Story of Stuff features the wonderful Annie Leonard, amusing
lots of humor, and a complicated analysis presented in an
easy-to-understand conversational tone.
You can watch the whole thing at . You'll have to watch the film to
the humor -- there's no easy way to convey the playful cartooning
serious purpose. But I guarantee chuckles even for the most
The core themes of the Story of Stuff are:
1. The world is running up against resource limits.
"We?re running out of resources. We are using too much stuff. Now I
this can be hard to hear, but it?s the truth and we?ve got to deal
it. In the past three decades alone, one-third of the planet?s
resources base have been consumed. Gone. We are cutting and mining
hauling and trashing the place so fast that we?re undermining the
very ability for people to live here."
2. Corporate globalization is premised on externalizing costs --
someone other than the companies that make things pay for the
environmental and human costs of production.
"I was thinking about this the other day. I was walking to work and
wanted to listen to the news so I popped into this Radio Shack to buy
radio. I found this cute little green radio for 4 dollars and 99 cents.
was standing there in line to buy this radio and I was wondering how
could possibly capture the costs of making this radio and getting it to
hands. The metal was probably mined in South Africa, the petroleum
probably drilled in Iraq, the plastics were probably produced in
and maybe the whole thing was assembled by some 15 year old in a
maquiladora in Mexico. $4.99 wouldn?t even pay the rent for the
space it occupied until I came along, let alone part of the staff
salary that helped me pick it out, or the multiple ocean cruises and
rides pieces of this radio went on. That?s how I realized, I didn?t
for the radio."
Who did? The people who lost their natural resource base, factory
those who are made sick from factory pollution, and retail workers
3. The corporate economy rests on the artificial creation of need --
golden arrow of consumption."
"Have you ever wondered why women?s shoe heels go from fat one year
skinny the next to fat to skinny? It is not because there is some
about which heel structure is the most healthy for women?s feet.
because wearing fat heels in a skinny heel year shows everyone that
haven?t contributed to that arrow recently so you?re not as valuable
that skinny heeled person next to you or, more likely, in some ad. It?s
keep buying new shoes."
4. Things can be different. And they must be made to be
"What we really need to chuck is this old-school throw-away
There?s a new school of thinking on this stuff and it?s based on
sustainability and equity: Green Chemistry, Zero Waste, Closed Loop
Production, Renewable Energy, Local Living Economies. Some people say
unrealistic, idealistic, that it can?t happen. But I say the ones who
unrealistic are those that want to continue on the old path. That?s
dreaming. Remember that old way didn?t just happen by itself. It?s
like gravity that we just gotta live with. People created it. And
people too. So let?s create something new."
If you worry these claims are too broad, go to the website, . It has
supporting evidence and links to a vast array of additional resources
Is The Story of Stuff just preaching to the converted? No. (Though
as a friend says, that there's a reason and rationale for the clergy
preach to the congregation every week -- it reinforces, deepens and
sustains commitment and understanding.)
The Story of Stuff is something you can show to anyone (or ask anyone
view online). It's persuasive but not a sermon. It's sophisticated but
esoteric. Its tone is light but its content is serious. It's narrated
the irrepressible Annie Leonard with passion but no pretense.
Annie, who is a former colleague and good friend, casually mentions at
start of The Story of Stuff that she spent 10 years traveling the world
explore how stuff is made and discarded. This doesn't begin to explain
first-hand experience. There aren't many people who race from
international airports to visit trash dumps. Annie does. In travels
three dozen countries, she has visited garbage dumps, infiltrated
factories, worked with ragpickers and received death threats for her
investigative work. Her understanding of the externalized violence of
corporate consumer economy comes from direct observation and
The Story of Stuff is a short film about the big picture. Give it a
and encourage others to check it out.
If negotiations like those in Bali are ultimately going to succeed,
need lots more people to internalize the message of The Story of
and mobilize, as Annie says, to create something new.
Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org> and director of
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