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The Role I Play in “the Story of Stuff”

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Sanchez, Anna Camille C.


CE 131

The Role I Play in “The Story of Stuff”

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute video that tells the life of the stuff and how it interacts with the real world. It explores where the stuff comes from, how it is made, and where it goes after disposal. Annie Leonard examines the processes that are missing in the linear system of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of material goods. She argues that this system is a system in crisis because it is hardly possible to run a linear system in a finite planet continually. In addition to this, the government that should be responsible for the welfare of its people, is more concerned to the interests of the big corporations. Instead of focusing on providing basic needs and services to its people, they become part of the mechanism of the corporations in capitalizing on the people and of the environment for the sake of gaining profit and economic growth.

In the extraction phase of the stuff, natural resources are being consumed, most of the time without specified limit. Annie called this the natural resources exploitation. Trees are cut indefinitely, lands are mined, and air is polluted. The big corporations are harvesting natural resources at an alarming rate without thinking of sustainability. Once they run out of resources, they go to other countries to exploit their resources too. Usually, these are the third world countries which do not have the means of production. Not only that, but the factories they use to mix toxic chemicals to natural resources are also being moved to other countries to avoid polluting their own environment. The people living there, since the resources that once sustained them are now gone, need other means to survive. They are forced to work in cities to earn money. Most of the time, they end up working in the factories of these corporations wherein they are exposed to toxics and carcinogens while not being paid enough.

After production, the stuff is distributed to the malls and shops. The goal here is to keep the people buying. With the help of advertisements and other marketing strategies, consumers are persuaded to buy products that they do not really need. Advertisements make the people feel unsatisfied with their lives and propose that they can transform their selves into something enviable to others. Because they have the means, people tend to shop just for pleasure. In this economy of materials, your value is measured by the amount of stuff you buy. This thinking is driven by our materialistic nature and our own vanity.

After throwing the stuff we no longer use, it goes to waste. Most often, the wastes are dumped on a landfill or burned first in an incinerator. These activities cause pollution in land, air and water. Burning wastes, which are mostly toxic-contaminated, produces super toxins upon release in the air. Leonard points out that recycling helps in minimizing wastes and in reducing the need to harvest more of our resources, but this alone is not enough. She explains that the wastes from our households, are just small fraction of the total wastes generated by the production of these. Moreover, most of the materials are not recyclable in the first place.

To determine how my activities affect the Earth, I answered the ecological footprint test. The results are as follows:

[pic 1]

[pic 2]

Based on the results above, 3.1 Earths are needed to sustain my lifestyle. By consumption category, food appears to have the highest contribution to my ecological footprint. This can’t be denied since my diet consists of mostly meat products. I live in a dormitory so I have very limited food choices. On top of that, I generate a lot of waste since I regularly make use of food delivery services, and buying packaged and processed food products has already become a necessity.



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