SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
20
October
2013

The Story of Stuff & The Story of Change

“The Story of Stuff” had a ton of information about consumer product supply chain and the impact a consumer society has on the environment and its people. One of the most interesting things that Annie Leonard said was American consumers no longer use or own 99% of their purchased products 6 months after purchase. This concept isn’t expanded further, but I’m fairly sure it has to include things like food packaging – even still, 99% of all purchased material is an alarming rate.

This was not the first time I’ve heard the terms “planned obsolescence” and “perceived obsolescence” but “The Story of Stuff” gave it a new perspective. The idea that planned obsolescence was a conscious decision, and that it correlates to the time when American unhappiness began to decline, says a lot about our value system. Even if we think we want stuff, we don’t need things, stuff doesn’t actually bring happiness. The visualization of the treadmill/cycle of tired from work, watch TV, TV tells us to buy, need to work to buy, return to work to make money, get tired from work… etc… illustrated this point perfectly.

I decided to watch “The Story of Change” after finishing “The Story of Stuff.” I loved the idea presented in this video that we can’t just encourage people to do the right thing, because it’s often hard to do the right thing. The right item to buy might be a lot more expensive, so people without the means will be stuck funding a product that damages people, or the environment, or themselves. Instead, the video suggest we have to change the economy so the right thing is the easy thing. When the right choice is easy for consumers to make, the easy to buy product becomes second nature.

Another concept I took from “The Story of Change” was the idea that people can use what they’re good at and apply it to being a “change maker.” Not everyone has time to stand around demonstrating, or the know-how to create a Fair Trade company, for example. Instead, people can take their own talents and apply them to creating the world they want to live in.



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