By Ardain Isma Jr
Special to CSMS Magazine
The story of stuff is a 20- minute video about how stuff comes and goes from one generation into the next. It was narrated, written, and produced by Annie Leonard. Annie goes in to insightful details about how we are destroying our world with all the consumption of waste and manure we throw into the nature every year. In fact, according to the Story of Stuff, the United States contributes more than 40% of the world’s pollution. The documentary also states that we make more pollution than any other country in the world. To make matters even worse, the U.S only makes up 5% of the world’s population. That’s bad in every sense of the phrase.
A lot of bad criticisms have been going against this 20-minute video. A school board in Montana banned the 20-minute piece because it promoted anti- corporatism. On the bright side, a lot of good criticisms supportive of the documentary were also registered as well.
I myself personally agree with the whole thing. Americans nowadays take a lot of things for granted. They throw away things that shouldn’t even be thrown away. After World War II, planned obsolescence was incorporated into the production of consumer goods, 1. Back then, quality and long lasting products were once good selling points. Now, products don’t last long with their consumers any more. , 1.
Even more compelling is that today is perceived obsolescence. That’s more obvious with regards to fashion, 1. How many people do you know changed their play station 2 for a play station 3 last year? What was wrong with the predecessor? Absolutely nothing. They just promote the next installment better to make it look more appealing. This makes people throw the play station 2 away, which probably is in good condition and still working. However, they dispose of it because they have a supposedly better version. That makes no sense, it’s like people are literally throwing money way. People shouldn’t be doing that, especially at a time when we’re living in a recession. Maybe, many of us are still living in denial.
The Story of Stuff also points out something that is interesting as well, 50 percent of our federal tax goes into the U.S military because of the war in Iraq right now, 2. This means we are doing ourselves a disservice by digging our own economic graveyard. How do they expect us as a people in this country to come out of this economic slump if more the 50 percent of our taxes are going into the war? The film also says that 99% of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport, and consume is trashed within six months. Only 1% of the materials used to produce consumer goods are still used six months after the date of sale, 1.
The best part in the whole film is chapter five titled “consumption.” In this part of the film, the narrator, Annie Leonard, talks heavily about how products are manufactured, made, processed, and served. Annie also goes into detail about all the toxic chemicals that are put into our products today, even the pillows we sleep on are filled with hazardous chemicals that can destroy are bodies.
In conclusion, I agree with the documentary and the overall message it is trying to convey. Do I think that some of the things the narrator was saying were a little exaggerated? Yes. But that’s beside the point. It is also my personal belief that Americans as a whole have gotten way too materialistic. It is obvious that as Americans, our materialism is the main reason why we have lost the true essence of quality time. If people could just take time and reflect at home with their friends and family, they would probably find something more productive and interesting to do at home rather than going shopping and wasting a big piece of their income on items they don’t really need. If people were more cautious of their time and money, we probably wouldn’t be in this recession. But then again, this is just my opinion.
Note: Ardain Isma Jr is a senior at Neash Hign School in Ponta Vedra, Florida. He wrote this piece, specially for CSMS Magazine.