December 17th, 2007


The Story of Stuff

 If you haven't yet watched the no-bull, low-tech, consciousness-raising video that is The Story of Stuff, you oughta.

Sustainability activist Annie Leonard put together this little primer on the materials economy, and in case you didn't already think you had too much crap in the garage, she helps you see the light. There are a lot of powerful moments and pretty grim facts about everything from natural resource depletion to how quickly products become obsolete. There's also a nasty treadmill-type scene that has the average Joe going from working to watching TV to shopping, to working to watching TV to shopping. Ad infinitum.

The Story of Stuff is a kid-friendly little flick, and a great way to start all kinds of discussions about advertising, pollution and workers' rights, but you need to watch it with them. My girls got sad -- Smaller actually cried a little -- and it's helpful to push the old pause button and infuse a little hope every so often. We did that by talking about what we're already doing right, and what else we can do. We had a lot of good ideas, and I'm not sure why the current administration hasn't brought us on as consultants, but in the meantime, we're gonna try to ratchet the goodness up a notch -- using both sides of every sheet of paper and turning down the heat a bit. That sort of thing, times a hundred. 

It's both hard and easy this time of year to think about stuff. Hard because we're all doing our civic and cultural duty by making our lists and checking them twice and we don't want to be guilted into doing otherwise. Easy because everything we do is fodder for change. Our girls both asked for new scooters for Christmas. They've literally ridden theirs into the ground and we've squeezed every penny's worth out of 'em. BUT. Instead of new scooters, they're each getting a new set of wheels and new handle grips -- because the rest of the contraption is just fine!!!

That Santa. Always got an eye on the planet.

So check it out. In the 20 minutes it'll take to watch, you would have only moved up a place or two in line at the post office anyway...

(Grateful for good conversation starters...)