Story of stuff

OK, so I finally watched this, only a month after I said I would 😉 Like I said, I am on half term!

One word summary? Amazing.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Click here for The Story of Stuff

I have written this post straight away after watching it, before I click around on the site, which I am sure is going to be wonderful too. So, a more cohesive response… It is beautifully produced and very informative as well. I highly recommend you watch it yourself. BTW – all facts and figures here are relating to the USA.

There were many points which  stood out for me. The first was the concept of “externalised costs” – we are not paying for the cost of making something to the company, the actual costs are put elsewhere – into child workers, toxic chemicals, low paid employees etc etc. Someone else pays for our products – normally someone a lot worse off than we are.

I also liked her “golden arrow of consumption”. The idea that high levels of spending was created by government and is now protected by government and corporations. Oh, and while we are talking about corporations; they are now bigger than the government. Scary.

Overall, our perceived societal value is based on how much we consume and a lot of effort is focused on making us consume. 1% of everything consumed is still in use 6 months later. How very sad and telling is that?

This whole problem has been created by the US government after WWII when an economist, Henry Bloom(?) said:

Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consuption…we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate

Wow. After this planned obsolesce was built into products and ever since national happiness has plummeted. Our spiritual satisfaction? What a sad statement of fact. When I saw that quote I immediately thought of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  I learned about this while I was studying marketing and now have been taught it again as part of my teacher training. The above quote elevates shopping into satisfying our basic needs and upwards, almost to self-actualisation status.

The film also explains how we are manipulated into continuing this through the work-watch-buy cycle. My answer to this one? Avoid the main stream media as much as possible! I think this element is one of the many things that my readers do, we all have reduced our consumption – although my personal hero on this one is Eileen of Consumption Rebellion – she is hard-core, but with such joy and vitality!

My final thought on this, before I go back to the site and start clicking through on all of the links, is that I am pretty much preaching to the choir here. I am fairly sure that everyone who reads this blog is already living a greenish life and is taking steps to make it more so. The people who comment are those who already are following this path – please let me know if you are just starting out, or even don’t live a green-ish life.

How do we reach those who are not? I don’t want to be a green bore… I try to set an example in my life and of course I realise that I am a long, long way from perfect, but how can we engage those who just don’t realise there is an alternative and what about those that just don’t care?


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