The Story of Stuff, Stuff and More Stuff

I love, love, love the Internet.

I just keep finding cool blogs, sites and resources everywhere, all the time. I could spend my life surfing and exploring a learning new stuff. Pity I have to earn a living somehow (more about that further down…).

Speaking of stuff, as I previously blogged in a post paradoxically titled “I want more,” I’ve discovered I need less of it (stuff that is).

I don’t have a TV, and I hate to shop. While you might think that’s odd, I’m finding more and more people who share my preferences – including Annie Leonard, who has created a fabulous site called The Story of Stuff.

In a nutshell:

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. It 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.

I earn a living helping people make more powerful speeches and give presentations. Sadly, due in part to the worldwide recession, the living I’m earning has been reduced to virtually nothing!

The good news about having no paid work is that it gives me lots of time to surf, discover, learn (see above), and make AWR a better site for you, me and others to enjoy.

Anyway, in my line of work (when I’ve got some), I see hundreds and hundreds of presentations, most of which are complete wastes of time for all concerned – the presenters as well as their audiences.

Not only do the vast majority of presenters fail to get their message across, many of them are also arrogant, boring and ill-prepared. Of course that’s what keeps me in business (in good times), so I’m not complaining, just observing.

Annie Leonard, however, breaks the poor presentation mold. The Story of Stuff is one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen. And believe me, I’m a harsh critic.

Annie’s video is interesting, thought provoking and funny, in a tragic kind of way.

Here’s a clip from the video to give you a taste of what she talks about:

Some of the facts and figures Annie shares in the Story of Stuff include:

  • of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51% are corporations, 49% are governments
  • in the past three decades alone one–third of the earth’s resources have been consumed
  • 75% of global fisheries are fished at or above capacity
  • 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone; in the Amazon rainforest we are losing 2,000 trees a minute (that’s seven football fields’ worth every 60 seconds)
  • the US has less than 4% of its original forests left and 40% of its waterways have become undrinkable
  • The US has 5% of the world’s population; it uses 30% of the world’s resources and generates 30% of the world’s waste

In case you think the US is the only bad guy, think again!

The Conference Board of Canada reports that:

  • Canada produces 791 kg per capita of municipal waste each year, almost twice as much as Japan.
  • the amount of municipal waste we generate is on the rise. In 1995, for example, the average amount of municipal waste generated by the 17 countries ranked by the Conference Board was 540 kg per capita. By 2005, that had increased to 610 kg per capita. (And here I thought we were becoming more environmentally conscious, not less!)
  • One hopeful statistice is that between 1990 and 2005, Japan sustained its municipal waste generation at 405 kg per capita (maybe that’s what makes it look so spick and span), while Australia kept its at 690 kg.

And according to a March 2008 article on Zawya: per capita waste generation was 730kg and 725kg in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively in 2006, more than double the 300 kg per person generated in the UK.

Not good. Not good at all.

To find out what you can do to help save the planet (and ourselves), visit the "another way" page on The Story of Stuff.