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Friday, January 4, 2008

The Story of Stuff



The Story of Stuff is an entertaining and provocative 20-minute video about the cycle of consumption that has pervaded American culture since the 1950's. Narrator Annie Leonard walks us through the cycle -- which is actually linear and not really cyclical at all (therefore proving problematic for a finite planet) -- and points out many of the limits of the status quo in our consumeristic society.

We all know there are problems, right? But this video really drives home that these problems are more serious than we'd like to think. It's really time that we start considering what we can do to improve the current system. I think this video is a great start -- getting to know the problem is the first step in addressing the problem. So please take a spare 20 minutes and watch this video. Delightfully, it's very well-researched and logical, instead of the crazy tree-hugger hippy type language that often flows freely from things like this. This video will really get you thinking more about the consequences of our choices as consumers and as a nation.

Plus, she addresses something I've been harping about over and over and over again. Namely, that the cycle of over-consumption is intimately tied to our overworked society. Work takes up so much of our time that we end up having lots of money, but no time to use it on experiences, so instead we use it on buying stuff, most of which we end up discarding within 6 months (99% of the stuff we buy is discarded within 6 months, according to this video).

We produce twice as much garbage as people in the 50's and are twice less happy. And we have the lowest amount of leisure time since the feudal period. Now THAT'S a BIG problem, in my mind. Especially as one who doesn't believe in life after death, I feel that it is critically important to seize the day. But when you are living for the weekends -- 2 meager days out of the week -- there is precious little time to develop and nurture your own interests.

It's time for a revolution in the way we approach our lives.





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3 comments:

Miranda said...

Hi Sara. Part of my New Year's resolution involves something like taking a more active interest in my friend's pursuits. The idea behind it is that I'll inevitably expose myself to things I haven't done/seen/heard of before, or at least be able understand the people around me better. This idea , by the way, has me twisting and turning myself on a yoga mat among other hard things. So anyway, I thought it would be good to start commenting on your blog.

Thanks to this particular post of yours, I watched the Story of Stuff. I couldn't agree more with so many of the things she describes. I think I will even dare recommend that my conservative family watch this, even though the beginning addresses, oh my god, damage to the environment. The part I loved the most about this little film is the character watching the TV which is telling him ' YOU SUCK!' then he's shopping to make himself suck less, and then he's working to pay it off, and then back in front of the TV. An oversimplified illustration sure, but frighteningly too true to our lives this day and age. I would even take it further and insert the credit card industry in there somewhere, and their reaping the benefit of our desire to have all this stuff NOW.

In fact, I noticed that as a byproduct of my personal decision to pay off all my credit cards and stop using them completely, I interestingly wound up accumulating less junk. You think more about what you're buying and why when the money comes straight out of your checking account. Funny that.

Anyway, kudos to you and your post!

Sra said...

Thanks for your comment, Miranda, I appreciate it muchly :)

The great thing about this video is that it really is accessible to liberals and conservatives alike because it dispenses with preachiness and instead maintains a logical presentation of facts and reasoning in order to tell the story of stuff. And as a result, it helps prepare us to really think more about consumption and its ramifications.

And I also like the bit about TV ads being designed to make us feel bad, or like we are lacking something that their product can give us. I had never thought about it like that before, but it seems to be a pretty accurate assessment of how the advertisement industry works. For me, I noticeably have wanted less stuff after I gave up most of my TV viewing, and especially since I haven't had cable for many years.

It is rather easy to make more purchases when you use credit, huh? Congratulations on deciding to pay those cards off. After all, how can we amass wealth if we are in debt?

And finally, kudos to you for trying out yoga! I've been doing it for a few months myself, and I love it!

Thanks again for posting, it's nice to hear from you :)

Sra said...

Thanks for your comment, Miranda, I appreciate it muchly :)

The great thing about this video is that it really is accessible to liberals and conservatives alike because it dispenses with preachiness and instead maintains a logical presentation of facts and reasoning in order to tell the story of stuff. And as a result, it helps prepare us to really think more about consumption and its ramifications.

And I also like the bit about TV ads being designed to make us feel bad, or like we are lacking something that their product can give us. I had never thought about it like that before, but it seems to be a pretty accurate assessment of how the advertisement industry works. For me, I noticeably have wanted less stuff after I gave up most of my TV viewing, and especially since I haven't had cable for many years.

It is rather easy to make more purchases when you use credit, huh? Congratulations on deciding to pay those cards off. After all, how can we amass wealth if we are in debt?

And finally, kudos to you for trying out yoga! I've been doing it for a few months myself, and I love it!

Thanks again for posting, it's nice to hear from you :)

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