Monday, December 22, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Have you been to the website If you have not seen this video, you should. It's only 20 minutes, and the information in it is of critical importance.

Here is my summary and commentary about this clip:
It examines the process of making, buying, and disposing of stuff. The first problem with the current system is that we are using way too much stuff! Did you know that in the last 3 decades we have used 1/3 of our Earth's resources. GONE! The second problem is that we (in the U.S.) are using more far more of the resources. We are 5% of the world's population using 30% of the world's resources. We are taking more than our fair share. Here is what this tells me: we are saying with our lifestyle that we have more value than others, and that we have more of a right to the stuff than others. We say this indirectly by just taking what doesn't belong to us. Sadly, those that don't consume in this system, don't have a say in it, and are being taken advantage of. This system, in which we partake, creates poverty. Other people are paying for the things we buy...How? When we buy a product, the price we pay for it could not possibly pay for the raw materials, the extraction/creation of those materials, a fair living wage for those working to produce it, their healthcare, the production and distribution of the product, the salary of those working in the store to sell it, etc. So, others pay with their resources, environment, working condition, wages, and so on.

Later, she talks about the number of synthetic chemicals involved in the production of the things we buy. There are thousands of synthetic chemicals being used today, and only hundreds of them have been tested. How is this affecting our bodies and environment without us even knowing? For example, flame retardants - they are neurotoxins (they affect our brain), yet manufacturers douse pillows in them and we sleep on them 8 hours a night, so our heads don't start on fire when we are sleeping...who thought of that?! Flame retardants are in everything from sofas to childrens' pajamas. With all the technology and intellect in this country, we can't find a better way? Unfortunately, the ones paying the price for this are babies, who are receiving higher levels than ever of toxic chemicals through breastmilk. Shouldn't we protect them from toxic chemicals?

We have too much stuff! We have twice as much stuff as people 50 years ago. And, of all the stuff we buy, 99% of it is trashed within 6 months. We shop 3-4 times more than people in Europe. This produces a lot of trash! Recycling does help to reduce that, but did you know that for every pound of trash we produce in our household, there were 70 more pounds involved in the production of the stuff we throw out?

This system does not work! It is not responsible, moral, just, or sustainable to continue as we are. Fortunately, there are other ways. I know the tempation is to hear information like this, feel bad, but then go on living the way we have been. Why? Because we don't feel the effects in our daily lives, and well it's just easier to go with the flow of what everyone else is doing, and of course, it is convenient. Also, change is difficult, especially if that change costs us something. BUT, what if we don't change? How does that affect us, our children, the environment, and others, our "neighbors" on this planet? We MUST change. I MUST change. I need to make changes in my lifestyle, and I hope you will join me. I will discuss things we can do in my blog in the following days. We can change and those changes do make a difference!

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