NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

It’s Brave Friday! Learn about the consequences of overconsumption by watching The Story of Stuff today

If media hype is to be believed, the day after Thanksgiving — which has come to be known as “Black Friday” — is a day when great deals can be had at the mall, and is therefore an unbeatable opportunity to go shopping.

Regardless of whether the hype is justified or not, today is a good day to think about the environmental cost and consequences of our use it up and throw it out culture, which is extremely wasteful and unsustainable.

Activist Annie Leonard, who I had the pleasure of meeting in person earlier this year, has become one of the progressive movement’s best advocates for zero waste. In 2007, she wrote and narrated an animated documentary, The Story of Stuff, which has been viewed by an estimated twelve million people. The film’s success led to more films focusing on specific products (the latest category being electronics) and a book, also titled The Story of Stuff.

If you haven’t seen the original documentary, take a few moments to watch it now. It’s so well done that was condemned by Glenn Beck and was the subject of a critique by the corporate-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received money from the likes of the Scaife Foundations, Exxon Mobil, the Ford Motor Company Fund, and Pfizer.

Unlike Glenn Beck, and unlike the hacks who work for America’s major corporations, Leonard has actually traveled the world, exploring the extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of stuff.

She’s more than just a storyteller; she’s an eyewitness to one of the greatest problems of our time. That’s what makes her films so powerful.

If you have seen The Story of Stuff before, watch it again with a friend or family member. It’s released under a Creative Commons license, so you can download it and reproduce it to your heart’s content.

Put it on a USB flash drive so you can share it with your friends when you’re away from your desktop. Burn it to DVD and mail it to acquaintances who have dialup Internet connections. Or store it on your own server if you have one.

It’s incredibly important that the progressive movement master the art of storytelling, so we can better communicate our values, principles, and policy directions to the American people. Annie Leonard has set the example for what we must do if we want to broaden our reach and our impact.

Her work is incredibly important and there’s no better time to share it than the holiday season, when Madison Street is in overdrive.

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