Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Story of Stuff

Recently, my best friend posted a link on her facebook page to:


She added to the post, "Worth the time to watch," which made me all the more interested, since she doesn't normally promote these types of things. 

So, I watched.  And I was moved. 

I continued my investigation by following links to other youtube.com videos related to "The Story of Stuff" project.  I also read the critics reviews of the documentary, but as all socially challenging projects emerge, so do their bashings. 

Regardless, I took from it what I feel was meant to be absorbed:  the way of life that Americans are living is exploiting the rest of the world's cultures and resources, infecting our culture with unregulated toxins, and creating a "throw away" mentality that must be stopped! 

I mean, seriously, what happened to fixing things?  Nowadays we simply throw them away and buy newer, supposedly better versions.  For example, the video mentions how the one part of a computer that technologically changes every year is a very tiny piece that, due to its irregular new shape each year, forces us to have to purchase an entirely new computer! 

The message is simple.  The current rate of consumption will ultimately be our planet's demise if we don't start acknowledging our consumption activities as reckless.  Period.  End of sentence.

Another part of the video discusses the way in which our society has been trained to consume in order to be valued.  If a person is wearing last year's styles, or driving an older model car, carrying a late model phone, etc, then society judges them for not "buying into" the pool of consumption lately. 

Taking the consumption a step further, while out at a night club in San Diego last week, I witnessed a group of people celebrating their evening by shaking up a bottle of Veuve Clicquot (easily a $150 bottle of champagne at the club) and spraying it all over each other just for fun!  It illustrates exactly what the "Story of Stuff" is teaching.  That beautifully crafted bottle of champagne was wasted in its totality to prove some guy's value in society. 

But don't get me wrong - I am not blaming anyone.  These ideals have been programmed into us.  I just hope that we can un-program them before our reckless consumption has created irreversible effects to our earth. 

If you haven't heard of Freeganism yet, check it out: http://freegan.info/
Freegans are the epitome of the counterculture to consumerism and are usually really down-to-earth, amazingly brilliant people, too!  Last year I joined a group of freegans in Kansas City and gained access to many resources and ideas that I had not even considered before: like where food comes from and how to survive on $10 a week, how to convert your diesel to veggie oil, how to seek the many surplus warehouses that are full to the brim with books, toys, supplies for living, etc.

I'm pretty sure that most of us could completely survive off of the surplus of this country alone, but we are not willing or ready to give up our shopping sprees and the temporary sense of worth they give us.   But as we have all seen, like in the TV series Hoarders, this mentality can be taken to the extreme.

And what does "stuff" give us anyway?  It adds more weight to our already heavy load and that extra stuff continues weighing us down day after day.  It piles up in a secret corner of a closet, or room, or maybe in its own storage unit? Regardless, it is not a healthy relationship - us and our stuff.

So, take this post for what its worth: knowledge. 

To be aware of the problem is the first step to figuring out our own solutions.  We are all unique, with different levels of attachment to our things, but what we do share in common is our relationship to this ONE earth and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the consequences of our actions!     

Thanks so much for reading! 


  1. Very interesting post! I've become very interested in how to be more resourceful with using fewer resources! With my family of 10 it is always a challenge! I will be looking at the Freeganism website. Thanks for your thought-provoking post!

    Found you through Blogaton 2011.

  2. This makes me think about an almost to capacity land fill i pass everyday on my way to work in my diesel guzzling truck. Everytime i pass it i take notice to the droves of massive smoke belching trash trucks coming and going 24/7. Its like an ant farm that never stops growing. i think about the smash it, burry it, and forget about it mind set these places have. Out of site out of mind! If it was not for the concern of the bottom dollar think how different this situation could be. Check out this link www.smithelectricvehicles.com
    Keep it up Ms. Panda great topic :)

  3. I established an "Environmental Awareness Club" at the college I attend a few years ago. One of the first things we did as an outreach was to show this video on campus, and to hold a roundtable discussion afterwards. Now, our club has grown into a massive sustainability effort on campus, and includes several members of the community. It's amazing what a little idea can do, and the little ideas presented through the discussion of this video have done so much.

    Cheers, from a fellow Blogathon-er. :)

  4. Another philosophical moment for me today, thank you. You're right, we SO need to cut back on stuff on this earth. Why must we shop til we drop? Let's take a step back and think before we shop!

  5. Wow! @Kids and Mental Health, I never thought of that saying, "Shop til you drop," and how it has been engrained into our cultural consciousness!
    Maybe we should chose a new phrase to adopt?
    For instance, "S.T.O.P. when you shop," in which the acronym for S.T.O.P. is Seriously Think Of Pollution. Huh, huh???
    Or how about, "Shop til you D.R.O.P.," in which D.R.O.P. stands for Decidedly Realize Overconsumption Pollutes. ;)