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The Story of Stuff

June 27, 2009

If you haven’t seen this yet, it would definitely be a good investment of 20 minutes of your time.   It’s been viewed 6 million times already (maybe everyone else has seen it but me).  Annie Leonard takes a very fast, witty, sharp trip through consumerism and the impact it has.  For instance, she uncovers the hidden costs of production, the deliberate planning of obsolescence, and the work-watch-spend treadmill.  Brilliant.

Story of StuffOK, so it’s a little simplistic, too – I’m not so sure about some of the stats, and the stuff on toxins (there’s a bit more analysis of her stats on wikipedia).  However, I think the role of videos like this is to set some good terms for debate.  I remember a debate on economic justice where an opponent of Fair Trade was saying that it wasn’t an ideal system – there are potential downsides, and other approaches that might be more effective.  To which my response was – great!  Fair Trade has provoked the debate.  And it has set the terms for debate.  If there are robust answers to the Fair trade case, they should be heard (personally speaking, I’ve not heard that many).  Maybe in some ways it can be improved.  But having improved Fair Trade options is better than what we used to have which was none at all!

In the same way, I think The Story of Stuff sets the terms brilliantly for a debate on the costs of consumerism.  If some of the emphases could be tweaked, then fair enough.  But I’m not sure that the substance of her case can really be answered.  The best thing is to let the debate (and the lifestyle changes) continue.  I hope you enjoy it.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. clancop permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:09 am

    This video doesn’t even make sense, and yet you want to push it? Tell you what, watch Lee Corvan’s The Critique because obviously you are wrapped up in talking points rather than the facts. For example, having spent time in China, I can tell you that corporations setting up shop there has been a good thing. Many of my former students now work for these companies using the English I taught them to make far more money than both their parents combined. Matter of fact, one girl (not my student, a student though of another ESL teacher) was making 4500 Y a month, more than double what both her parents made IN A YEAR. Because of an American shipping company, her quality of life has risen.

    Learn the facts and get your head out of the clouds… Pathetic…

    • clancop permalink
      September 23, 2009 2:17 am

      Lee Doran not Lee Corvan, the host at HowTheWorldWorks. My mistake.

  2. Mark permalink
    October 8, 2009 1:36 pm

    Hi Clancop,

    I wouldn’t want to dispute the power of consumerism to create jobs, though I do want to get past things just being ‘a good thing’ or not.

    I’ve posted a full and detailed response to your comments here:

    I hope you find it interesting.



  1. Story of Stuff Critique – a Critique « Breathe

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