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?


Anonymous said...

dont think the "recycle" part works well in malaysia. why? because i don see that many recycling bins around (unlike in europe). and back in UK, they actually charge you 1 pound for the shopping bag (not plastic bags)...and sometimes they give it for free (M & S). the people there use those non-plastic bags to shop.

but in malaysia, 1 bag can easily cost u rm15 and above. who would want to buy? and if u did buy, other people will LOOK n STARE at you if you bring that bag to walk around in TESCO. people might think you're planning to steal something. it's all about the mentality and what the gov is doing to promote recycling.

by the way, glad to see u're back to blogging :D

Anonymous said...

Well, When I was young, I was naive to go on street protest against tropical forest, ie these white people protest that we cut down our tropical jungles mercilessly. I was brain washed and thought I was doing Sarawak good by going on protest.
Then I waked up when I visited a McDonald restaurant in Washington D.C outside of Smithsothian musuem. I think it is a whole bull crap that these industrialize countries said we abused our jungles. They are the ones who used disposable cups, disposable spoons, disposbale everything... Our hawker people, restaurant stuffs clean washed and reused the spoon, folks thousands of times over.

This green movement make me sick in the stomach, it is all slogan and get people all heated up.

The idiot Al Gore got his Nobel prize on green movement and see how much his mansion is burning up the energy ! These green movement people are No.1 hypocrite.

To me, this earth is created by an infinte God who knows when this earth is going to kaput. The problem with human being is that people are selfish and greedy. If everyone has some common sense and use appropriately, there is no need to have some green movement or whatever so ever.

I go to thrift shop and buy used clothes. I reused the zip lock bag that I used to freeze my meat. I washed them and dryed them so these bag can be used again.

No need nobel prize, big greenie movement, just a bit of common sense well do.

No about the many children to me personally is crab ! People who have plenty of children in fact used less resources than people who has 1 or 2 children. I myself can testifiy to that, I have only 1 child, he has every new toy that is first released by Disney ! Many of my church people have 7-10 children, they used what their older siblings clothes (passed down) and they played the old toys from their older siblings. But, we having one child used more resources than those families who have many children.

If you look at Economic return, it is cheaper to raise 4 children than 1 child. When you have more children, you think of economy scale !

I do not buy a bit on green movement.

I am pro Alaska opening for more oil drilling, I am pro off shore drilling in America. And I am one of the most thrifty and conservative person in the entire planet.

I only flush my toilet the 2nd time I go pee. I used my old work socks for my night socks and underwear and so forth and forth.

So, if these greenie is going to protest, I ask them to fly kite :):).

ChampDog said...

I’m not back to blogging yet as I have new role in my company and consume me a lot of time to catch up with the speed which means my time at blogging is very little. Too bad…

I agree with your about the “recycle” thing won’t work in Malaysia. I think government simply do have much time focus on this as they have more “important” things to worry on.

So, the Green Movie thingy is for getting famous? 

For many children, I don’t quite agree. You maybe right 7-10 children may use less stuff than 1-2 children but what if they grow up. Each of them setup their own family and buying a new house to build their own dream home. This eventually will consume more stuff again. The consumption will go high as long as population is still increasing.

“I only flush my toilet the 2nd time I go pee. I used my old work socks for my night socks and underwear and so forth and forth.”

Are you serious? Flush toilet the 2nd time may still be acceptable but socks and underwear? Yuacks…

Anonymous said...

well recycle part doesnt work very well in malaysia

ChampDog said...

Maybe one day will do when we reach there...

Anonymous said...

the whole thing about toxins in and toxins out is true, it's why you're supposed to wash your clothes and bedding and pillows and basically anything possible before using it, even then you still have toxins left over. It's not like an overnight thing or a "they're coming off our products and floating in the air thing" its a transference thing. Too much contact between skin and the product allows the toxins to transfer onto and eventually into our bodies.

ChampDog said...

Perhaps you have a point too. But if this is really true, shouldn't this not just for pillow? Ya, cloth is a good example. How about mouse & keyboard that we use everyday?

stock market for beginners said...

To me, this earth is created by an infinte God who knows when this earth is going to kaput. The problem with human being is that people are selfish and greedy. If everyone has some common sense and use appropriately, there is no need to have some green movement or whatever so ever. Agree!

ChampDog said...

Looks like we have no way to avoid this? :)

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