Green Tip of the Week #18 – The Story of Stuff

This week’s green tip is to take 20 minutes and watch The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. With Earth Day just around the corner, I think it’s important to take a look at all the stuff we have in our lives and the The Story of Stuffstuff we might want to buy in the future and become aware of exactly where it comes from, what’s in it and who/what is affected by it’s production. Warning: This video will make you think.

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 life forever.

After hearing about it for ages, I finally took the opportunity to watch it a couple days ago and I’m really glad I did. It’s a video I think EVERYONE should watch (yes, that means you and you too!) and reflect on the next time we go to make a purchase.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it. 🙂 Then come back here and tell me what you think about it.

13 thoughts on “Green Tip of the Week #18 – The Story of Stuff”

  1. Steph told me about it around Christmas time I think, and it really changed the way we think. Our Christmas was paired down, I’ve been using things I have here for gifts and such (painting, jewelry, I have tons of supplies). It really explains the whole cycle really well.

  2. Well you had my husband and I talking for over an hour about the film. Thanks for sharing the link. It was a great look into the cycle we find ourselves in without the pressure. Sometimes it all feels so overwhelming, like nothing will make a difference. However if each of us makes just one conscious decision, we have made a difference.

  3. i watched it and although i feel like a lot of it is political it was nice to see that we can make a difference. i think too often “we” get overwhelmed and think that we are too far gone and cant make a difference even if we try and she shows us that we can. encouraging. i posted on my blog about it too 🙂

  4. I loved the video, too and posted it previously.

    At Chez Hatchet we’re already on the end of not buying stuff to keep from adding to the revenue/waste stream. Now we need to get rid of all the clutter that we have to reduce our personal load, except that it is more than a little difficult with the twins and spring business start up.

    Next up I’m trying to get us to reduce the plastic that we bring into the house ala Little Plastic Fish’s idea. A tougher sell to my husband, but we’ll get there. Every little bit helps.

  5. I watched this a few weeks ago after reading a book on sustainability, and it was so eye-opening for me. I try to reduce the amount of stuff we buy, but after that I am thinking even harder about it.

    I try to buy almost everything I can second-hand (clothing, stuff for our house, etc..).

    This is a great video to watch!

  6. I sat down and watched it with my husband yeterday and we did spend quite a bit of time talking about it. While there were a couple of times I found myself agreeing with her (like when she pointed out that Bush told us to SPEND at 9/11), I mostly found myself talking back to her about all of the details she chose to leave out too. It was frustrating that her presentation was so one-sided, especially given that is what she was railing against in her video.

  7. Thanks for the suggestion on this video.

    Since I just came across your blog for the first time tonight…I may be suggesting something you’re already well aware of. If not: do you know about Ideal Bite? It’s a web/email service that delivers a “Bite Sized” living green tip to subscriber’s website every day. If you haven’t seen it, check out: ( I have no ties to them at all…just have been a subscriber for a while and really like what they have to say)

  8. I know I’m a little out of date commenting on this now, but I haven’t been to your site in a while.

    Anyway, I watched the Story of Stuff and had to restrain myself from throwing the computer out the window. I ended up showing it to my ecology students and letting them get all worked up about the evil capitalist system. Then, I went through the video with them point by point showing how she distorts the facts in an attempt to push a radical agenda the vast majority of Americans would find repulsive.

    For example, she says “more than 50% of our federal tax dollars now go to the military.” But, to get that number, she only counted income taxes; that eliminated Social Security and Medicare, which combined cost more than twice military spending. It also excluded excise taxes, such as those placed on every gallon of gas.

    I especially loved when she said only “a woman with no other options” would work in a factory with toxic chemicals; but her website says she “was fortunate enough” to travel the world for more than a decade investigating taxic waste coming from factories. Seriously, she went to two Ivy League schools; she has choices, but she chose to expose herself to toxic waste. And from what I can tell, her daughter turned out perfectly fine–no third arm or anything. That must be because, as her site also admits in a small print citation, the total amount of dioxin–that “super-toxin” she said was “the most toxic man made substance known to science–we’re exposed to over our entire lifetimes may give us a risk of cancer between 0.1% and 0.01%.

    That means your odds of dying in a car accident this year–this year!–are about the same as your odds of ever getting cancer from dioxin. And getting cancer doesn’t even mean you’ll die from it.

    Gotta love the power of cartoons to make everything convincing.

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