The Story of Stuff: Consumed with Consumption

A friend passed this website along to me today about The Story of Stuff, a sobering look at the frenetic movement of our raw materials through extraction, processing, consumption and disposal. As I sat in my office watching the video, I was deeply affected by the enormity of the problem and alarmed at how so many millions of us can live so totally insulated from ever thinking about it. With the Holiday madness in full swing, millions of Americans will cart off to the mall to gleefully fill the trunks of their SUV’s with cheap products made in 3rd World countries all in the pursuit of a Happy Holiday. How many of us will stop to consider the real production costs (wasted resources, pollution, exploited workers) of the Happy Holiday presents we pile under our tree?

And after all the Happy Holiday shopping, only 1% of the products we bought in this country will still be in use after 6 months –We THROW AWAY 99% of what we buy in less than 6 months! That’s just totally unacceptable!

To make sure that shopping stays the number one American leisure activity, the Media around us is cranking out the adverts to make sure we feel sufficiently insecure about what we don’t have. The average American sees approximately 3000 commercials a day. Today, we see more commercials in a year than the average person in 1950 would have seen in their lifetime.

We shop to fill the gap inside us. We shop to lift our spirits and boost our self-esteem only to find that at the end of the day we’re exhausted, in debt and depleted. We are ravaging ourselves–we are ravaging the earth.

I want a better way for Isa. I want him to know the joy of a holiday is the time spent in the loving company of family and friends, not the stuff that you get. I want him to experience the boundless riches of his creativity, his spirit and his heart, not to get lost in the hollow pursuit of happiness in a box. Lastly, I want to live in a world that shares these values so that we still have a world to leave to our children.

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