Sunday, August 17, 2008

Story of Stuff (Summary & Review)

A very interesting stuff story by Annie Leonard – The Story of Stuff which tells you how stuff works in 20 minutes video. It is an interesting story and here is my reviews and summary. I do agree with most of her points but not all of them. What is your opinion?

In short this how the whole stuff system works:

  • Extraction -> Production -> Distribution -> Consumption -> Disposal


She also pointed out this system is in fact in crisis because it is a linear system and we live on a finite planet and you can not run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. I personally love and agree with this statement.


The key point about this extraction is “We’re running out of Resources”. I definitely agree with this. The reason is simply due to fact that we’re using too much stuff that are not necessary. I don’t surprise with few facts that mentioned by her such as 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone, losing 2000 trees a minute in Amazon and etc.


The key point in this section is “Toxics in, Toxics Out”. According to her, we use energy to mix toxic chemicals in with the natural resources to make toxic contaminated products. These contaminated products such as computer peripherals contain BFRs which are very super toxic to our brains and eventually inside our women’s breast milk. She got to be kidding? I don’t think toxic in the CPU is flying around in the air, do you?

Another ridiculous example is that she says Toxic in the pillow too. Huh? Is this true? I strongly do not believe in it. I think she uses a wrong example to impress us. Yes, Toxic in but not Toxic out to the air especially in final products…

Yes, I will agree with pollution while making the products or when you simply throw away these so-called contaminated products.


It talks about externalizing the costs and that’s why how we can keep the prices down ($4.99 for a radio). Externalizing the costs which means the company use SOMEONE else money to pay the cost of a product. Example she is giving are people who paid with their loss of their natural resource, paid with the loss of their clean air, with increasing asthma and cancer rates, employees are forced to pay to cover their own health insurance. These people paid for the costs? It is not because of Mass-Production? I’m confused.


The key point that she wants to bring out is, “we consume too much”. We consume over what we suppose to consume and not only that, we’re encouraged to do that to keep the material flowing. Another important point is the “Planned Obsolescence” which I also very agree with this. Some products are really designed in such a way… Another thing is the advertisement which eventually cause “Perceived Obsolescence” that convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful. What a crap? Yes, especially fashion too…


How many of you recycle your stuff when you want to throw them? Even you want too, not all stuff can be recycled.


I’m not sure whether the system is in crisis or not now but eventually it will I believe. It is a matter of time but what we can do is to delay it and not to completely avoid it. Can we? It looks like she believes that is something possible.

The first thing that we want to do if we seriously want to solve this problem or crisis is to reduce the world population. With less population, consumption will be less, resources will be used less too and toxics less too. Isn’t that a very simple equation?

The second thing we can do is to consume what is necessary. This is not only good to the environment but also good for our own personal finance. Don’t you think so?

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