By Tina Hovekamp, Library

Materialism, consumerism, and environmental activism.  That’s a perfect concoction for controversy, isn’t it? And that’s what a 20-minute video, The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard, seems to have been since its first release in December 2007. This provocative and engaging video uses simple but effective line animation to leave a strong impression in your mind about the costs of the materials economy that we live in (and believe me, the 20-minutes watching it can go pretty fast!). Although the video and its controversy have been around for almost two years, I actually found out about it accidentally as I was looking for course material for my new LIB299 class. The Story of Stuff is full of facts and statements that point to the impact of a consumer based economy where excessive production, consumption, and dumping of materials has serious implications not only for the environment but also for social disparities between societies and nations.  Besides the enthusiasm this video generated even among schools where teachers use  it as part of their curriculum, there have also been strong critics of the facts and statements in The Story of Stuff. Some of these critics claim that the statistics presented are inaccurate or exaggerated allowing the author to indoctrinate and even generate unreasonable fears about the effects of materials consumption. Myself, as I watched this video, I felt that it definitely makes you think raising as many questions as it answers (perhaps it can be used in your classes for student discussion, too!). Where and how does our stuff get made?   Where does it get dumped?  How does production and consumption affect social justice, compromise health care and living conditions in other nations, impact local natural environments?    

But I better let you watch the video yourself.  Write us your comments using the ‘comments’ link below! 


2 Responses to Stuff…

  1. Carol Elwood says:

    I loved this, and used it in a workshop on Voluntary Simplicity.

    Annie’s new video is “The Story of Cap and Trade”. Also provides food for thought, though I haven’t taken the time yet to explore her footnotes for that.

  2. Sean says:

    I can’t WAIT to find 20 minutes to watch this! Chris Jordan will be proud (and, most likely, sad).

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