Now This Is A Story All About Stuff

Have you heard of The Story of Stuff, this great project taking an honest look at our production and consumption patterns? Watch this fast-paced, fact-filled 20 minute video and you may feel shivery and excited and spurred to action and yep, even a little teary-eyed just like I do! Or maybe I’m just strange. I guess the notion that the “stuff” we buy (and throw away) matters just strikes a chord with me and I want to know more.

Here are a couple of points that jumped out at me while watching The Story of Stuff (and the minute marker where it’s talked about if you want to jump ahead in the video).

1. Billions of Chemicals (Minute Marker 5:00) – U.S. industries admit to releasing 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals per year. And that’s just what they fess up to. Most of those chemicals haven’t been tested themselves, let alone tested for how they react with other chemicals we interact with. Scary!

2. Throw Away Culture (Minute Marker 11:00) – Only 1% of total materials produced are still in use after a mere 6 months from the date of sale in North America. ONE percent. The rest is thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. Literally.

3. Garbage (Minute Marker 17:00) – Speaking of trash, each person in the U.S. makes 4.5 pounds of garbage PER DAY. That’s twice what we each made 30 years ago.

4. Recycling (Minute Marker 18:05) – Recycling what we can helps and is very important, but it will never, ever be enough. That struck me because I feel so good about myself when I recycle things. But that ignores all the waste created in producing the product before it ever got to me (70 garbage cans for everyone 1 can I take to the curb). So slowing down the flow of stuff into and then out of my house is necessary too.

So what can we do? A lot!

  • Consume wisely. It is up to us what we buy, how much we buy, and where we buy it. That is some major power going on that can’t be denied.
  • Say no to chemicals. Find chemical-free cleaning and personal products like Norwex. Learn about how your stuff was made (pillow, mattress, clothes, food) to decide if you’re comfortable lying your head on a pillow that was dunked in a toxic chemical that’s known to damage the brain (ahh, I’ve never thought about it like that before this video!)
  • Use reusables. Switch to Norwex and clean your whole house with a cloth and water. A cloth that can be washed and reused for years and years and years. Actually use your reusable water bottle (I know you have one) instead of buying disposable ones. Pack your lunch in washable containers instead of baggies.
I’m left feeling super hopeful and excited about all the things I’m able to do that make a big impact on my life and the world! It’s powerful and happens one person at a time. Want to know more? Go explore The Story of Stuff.
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