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LVD: The Story of Stuff

by the stormy present Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 03:55:29 AM EST

(Yes, it's a Lazy Video Diary... well, sort of.  Video and some linking and quoting.

From the people who brought you The Meatrix, it's... The Story of Stuff!

The Story of Stuff is a short film in seven chapters about the chain of extraction, production, consumption and disposal of the stuff that fills our daily lives.  It's co-produced by Free Range Studios, a "messaging firm" (whatever that is) that specializes in promoting in social change and social justice, and Annie Leonard, an activist I've never heard of but probably should have.  Here's her blog.

The Story of Stuff gets a little US-centric at times, but the points she makes are good ones regardless.

Worth watching.  Worth spreading the word.


Chapter One:  Intro

what the text books said is that our stuff simply moves along these stages: extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal. All together, it's called the materials economy.[...]

There's a lot missing from this explanation. For one thing, this system looks like it's fine. No problem. But the truth is it's a system in crisis. And the reason it is in crisis is that it is a linear system and we live on a finite planet and you can not run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely.


Chapter Two: Extraction


We are using too much stuff. Now I know this can be hard to hear, but it's the truth and we've gotta deal with it. In the past three decades alone, one-third of the planet's natural resources base have been consumed.  Gone.


Chapter Three: Production


And that is one of the "beauties" of this system. The erosion of local environments and economies here ensures a constant supply of people with no other option. Globally 200,000 people a day are moving from environments that have sustained them for generations, into cities -- many to live in slums, looking for work, no matter how toxic that work may be.  So, you see, it is not just resources that are wasted along this system, but people too. Whole communities get wasted.


Chapter Four: Distribution


It's all about externalizing the costs. What that means is the real costs of making stuff aren't captured in the price. In other words, we aren't really paying for the stuff we buy.


Chapter Five: Consumption


This is the heart of the system, the engine that drives it.[...] That is why, after 9/11, when our country was in shock, President Bush could have suggested any number of appropriate things: to grieve, to pray, to hope. NO. He said to shop. TO SHOP?!


Chapter Six: Disposal


This is the part of the materials economy we all know the most because we have to haul the junk out to the curb ourselves. Each of us in the United States makes 4 1/2 pounds of garbage a day. That is twice what we each made thirty years ago.


Chapter Seven: Another Way


... what we really need to chuck is this old-school throw-away mindset.


So I'm watching this, and I'm thinking, Hmmm, very interesting, with some alarming facts and figures!  Too bad a video doesn't come with footnotes.  Because, y'know, we ETers like our footnotes and graphs and such.

But wait!  It does come with footnotes!  (.pdf file)  Huh.  They've thought of everything.  Well, everything except graphs. ;-\

Also, if you're on a slow connection (like mine, actually) that link will give you the whole script, so you can get the gist of the film's argument, minus the cute little stick-figure animations.

And here's an abbreviated list of what you can do:

Each of us can promote sustainability and justice at multiple levels: as an individual, as a teacher or parent, a community member, a national citizen, and as a global citizen.[...]

10 Little and Big Things You Can Do

  1. Power down! A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume.[...]
  2. Waste less. [...] There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature.[...]
  3. Talk to everyone about these issues. At school, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus...
  4. Make Your Voice Heard. Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. [...] As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well.[...]
  5. DeTox your body, DeTox your home, and DeTox the Economy. Many of today's consumer products - from children's pajamas to lipstick - contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren't necessary.[...]
  6. Unplug (the TV and internet) and Plug In (the community). The average person in the U.S. watches T.V. over 4 hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy.[...]
  7. Park your car and walk...and when necessary MARCH! Car-centric land use policies and life styles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots.[...]
  8. Change your lightbulbs...and then, change your paradigm. Changing lightbulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones.[...] To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.
  9. Recycle your trash...and, recycle your elected officials. Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff.[...]
  10. Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less. Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren't for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our dollars support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights....

Crikey, I probably shouldn't have called this "lazy."  HTML idiot that I am, anything that involves even the simplest coding for tables and images and font colors always takes me two frickin' hours.

Anyway, enjoy.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Dec 9th, 2007 at 12:51:46 PM EST
So I am sorry to ask, but you should somehow change at least the intro part... The picture is already too wide (more than 600 pixels), and then side-by-side with text.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 9th, 2007 at 02:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, done, and I reduced the graphic to 600 pixels.  Didn't realize how big it was, sorry.  (I lose all perspective on this widescreen laptop....)

Do you want me to rejigger the video tables in the body?  Are they too wide also?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Dec 9th, 2007 at 02:18:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's okay, though I see you used both an exta 2% cell and 5px-wide cell padding for separation, may be better removed.

I also realise that side-by-side might have worked with the title image if you did a version with the white spaces clipped on both sides.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Dec 9th, 2007 at 02:43:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what does this remind me of?

oh yeah, the hippy philosophy, but without the free lerv, drugs and music....

nice one stormy

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 01:20:38 AM EST
(I heard there's still some free luvvin', drugs, and sounds about...but these days it's a bit shhhh....no point scaring the puritans.)

(or: yeah, the hippy message made it to the straights--only 40 years!)

(Have we hit the mystical 50.01% yet?)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 04:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - LVD: The Story of Stuff
[Consumption] is the heart of the system, the engine that drives it. [...] That is why, after 9/11, when our country was in shock, President Bush could have suggested any number of appropriate things: to grieve, to pray, to hope. NO. He said to shop. TO SHOP?!
We're all Keynesians now, except that when you're a marketista plutocrat, you prefer to boost demand by encouraging consumption of consumer goods  [including planned and perceived obsolescence] than by using government spending to provide jobs in essential public services.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 05:05:04 PM EST

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