Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Story of Stuff

Please respond to the following video about the story of stuff:


  1. The concept of externalities was first introduced to me in my ethical issues in business class last semester. I hadn’t really thought of the production of a product costing more than the price on the environment for raw material, or the cost to manufacture the piece itself before. It hadn’t occurred to me, the cost it placed on the people surrounding/involved in the production of the product before. It struck a chord in me, reliving that first twinge of pain, when the Story of Stuff reminded me that not just a small group, but whole communities of people get “wasted” when our greed for natural resources robs those beautifully unique third world communities of their way of life. It also struck me to learn that 99% of the products we harvest these resources to produce usually become garbage within the first 6 months. Our garbage, we also externalize on smaller communities with fewer economic assets. As designers we need to be the first to get off of our “treadmills” and pave a new path of production conscientiousness, where cost is viewed from a geographical, and socio-cultural perspective, to a place where “stuff” is made sustainably and made to last.

  2. Environmental Science should be a required course. We live in the environment, yet we are ignorant of it. My education in Environmental Science was where I first learned that we don’t pay the true cost of the goods we produce. The actual cost of our depleted natural resources, toxic waste, and human exploitation is hidden from us by industry, and reinforced by government laws favoring capitalism. Whenever I hear a politician get up on his soapbox and say he wants to get government out of our way, I hear that as code for “I want to pollute your environment, and I want the government to help me do it!” In this day and age with ease of communication you would think a smart person could figure that much out on their own, but in actuality you really have to search for the answers to these questions. For instance, until recently, I didn’t know that fracking was exempt from the clean water act by Cheney’s energy policy and Congress has not been able to override that policy. How did I miss that fact? It was only when I did some research into fracking that I found the answers.

    The media goes out of their way to hide a conspiracy to protect a lopsided economy of destruction. Why are they so complicit? Is this because all the important players are getting too rich to care? Are they so isolated from the effects of their exploitation that they don’t realize we all exist on the same planet? Is this why Newt Gingrich thinks a moon colony is a good idea? I never though of him as a stupid man, just an evildoer. But what puzzles me most of all is our value system. Why do we care so little and demand so much? It’s easy to blame advertising, but are we that stupid a culture that we allow ourselves to be manipulated so easily? Are we just sheep instead of people? I find I have more questions than answers.

  3. “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 consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.” Victor Lebow, retailing analyst

    I was surprised to know that someone admitted to promoting the plan to create our insane economic system. This seems to be more of a crime than when the executives of tobacco companies knowingly made a product destined to kill the user – and more addictive than heroin. At least they were contributing to the demise of a portion of the human race, not the entire species. How could Mr. Lebow look in the mirror at himself every morning?

    Awhile ago I started watching the show Mad Men, but after just a few episodes I had to stop. Even if I could get past the sexism, racism, and constant cigarette smoking with my blood pressure in check the picture it painted of the values of our culture was too depressing. At the time I was not familiar with the term “perceived obsolescence” but the show described beautifully the manipulative, cynical machinations that Madison Avenue used, and is still using, to persuade us that whatever we have at the moment is not good enough. I would like to see the same amount of money and energy used to remove the blinders that keep us from seeing the entire cycle of our disposable culture.

    I am eager to learn more about how I, as a designer, can help to bend the unsustainable linear system that Victor Lebow promoted into a more sustainable circular one. It will help me to feel more comfortable when I look into a mirror in the morning.

  4. In a very graphic friendly way, this film is engaging people to follow a story of how stuff is created and the effects of this mass production. The film is explaining in a very clear way the relation of Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal. I liked that the visual communication in this film is so good that even if it is in mute, you can easily understand what the video is about. The use of captions to explain these concepts is great, and the translation to other languages makes its impact bigger in the whole world. I am very impressed with this organization, and I all the film series that they have.

  5. The story of staff Annie Leonard explains about the philosophy of consumerism and how the economic and political systems affect the habit and culture which is in this case is consumerism. It is interesting to look at this issue from the source and find out the root of the problem in our society. The language of this movie is simple and it is perfect for the purpose of education and teaching these important issues to our children because we have to start from younger ages to get the best result. The repeated story of consuming and destroying our sources but showing the reasons. The two concepts of Planned obsolescence and Perceived obsolescence gave me a very good thing to think about.

  6. I liked what she was saying when she said that you can not run a linear system on a finite planet indefineltly. In this she is agreeing with my ideology that this theory garbage doesnt work in real life. Point plank period this idea of sustainability or renewable energy just is not possible with the life style that we have set up amongst ourselves. It was important to talk about the environment and pollution which is needed. But then she hit the nail on the head. when she started talking about planned and perceived obsolescence. This is one of the worlds greatest and biggest downfalls in history. the fact that a company can make you want to buy something and then plan its failure and then make you buy the same product again is INSANE. And the flip side is that the wold gives this projection that you must have the newest or the latest or the greatest is the craziest life style portrayal ever. From this movie i see that we need to first change our mind set in order to create a real change.