Story of Stuff: 20 minute movie follows stuff from mine to landfill

Annie Leonard's incredibly engaging 20-minute short film, "The Story of Stuff," is an alarming (but never alarmist or shrill) look into the way that our consumer society works -- the reason that a radio in Radio Shack can sell for $4.95 is that the majority of the cost of that radio is being borne by laborers in the developing world, by everyone who lives in a degraded environment thanks to inadequate safeguards on manufacturing and disposal processes, and by other "external" payees who pony up when we go shopping.

Leonard's cradle-to-grave picture of stuff is lucid and answers a lot of questions about how we got here -- and how we can go somewhere better next.

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.
Link (Thanks, Robbo!)


  1. Hopefully this will be the last author /blogger/actress to “travel the world for ten years” …in order to discover stuff we need to know…Nice site design..just don’t buy or fly.

  2. I love this video. It’s even easy enough for my mother-in-law to understand. We are currently having the Christmas battles over unnecessary consumption. We have asked for no presents (we don’t need any!), but my mother-in-law has decided this means we don’t appreciate her. (She does insist that it’s taking away her joy in giving, not the joy of receiving.) My grandparents were frightful racists. My children can’t imagine that. I hope we can curb our materialism the same way. Thanks for the link Boing-Boing!

  3. Great film, great message.

    But to pick a nit, her example of computer upgrades being “planned obsolescence” is a stretch.

    Technology is simply improving very quickly. The reason you don’t just upgrade your CPU chip (the reason the sockets don’t typically match) is because the motherboard and memory has also improved by leaps and bounds, and is incompatible with previous tech. They change the chip & socket design so you don’t buy the wrong type for that motherboard. Not a conspiracy, just especially quick advancement of the state of the art.

    It’s true you can do a few upgrades by just replacing the “innards” (motherboard, CPU, memory), and keep the rest the same (hard drives, expansion cards, etc) without having to throw out too much. Many of us do just that, but you can only do that for so long, not because they break or it was somehow “planned” that way by evil corps, but because those techs also improve.

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