No matter how you slice it, we live in a world of consumerism, waste and foolish PLM or ‘Product Lifecycle Management’. Back in 2007, Annie Leonard and her friends at Free Range Studios decided to do something about this and create awareness for those of us blind to our own choices and actions. They created a short film called ‘The Story of Stuff‘ which you can watch below. It is just over 20 minutes long and well worth viewing. After you watch it, feel free to continue down the page to read my further thoughts.
If the movie portrays it right, we are on a tread-mill of sorts converting natural resources into ‘stuff’ which we consume, toss and acquire more of. And, since our economy depends on the production of more stuff, exponentially, we keep doing this faster and faster, essentially nuking our planet until…? Apocalyptic visions aside, we do consume a lot and many of us essentially burn what the writer of the Book of James calls, “a vapor”of time here on earth on this vicious cycle. Are we ‘getting ahead’? Or just killing time and resources needlessly?
Perhaps it IS impossible to remove ourselves entirely from this cycle of consumption. But, here are a few ways we can slow down the cycle and perhaps elimante a few cogs from the gears:
- Reduce the need for disposable plastic “stuff”. Did you ever buy a plastic mixing bowl and a compare it with a stainless steel one? The stainless steel bowl will last indefinitely while the plastic one will slowly become brittle over time and eventually crack, necessitating the purchase of a new one and the tossing of the old. And so, the cycle continues.
- Don’t buy bottled water. Really? Yes. Unconvinced? Watch the story. Just bring your water with you in a reusable, re-washable water bottle. Well, OK in airports, purchasing bottled water is a necessity since security thinks your Eco-friendly water bottle contains explosives and will snatch it from you. Everywhere else, simply pack your H2O-to-go and save some serious coin while you’re at it.
- Buy quality electronics, ignore marketing and watch that recycling. Again, watch the story. Who needs the latest tech? Most times it boils down to a case of need vs want, driving us to endlessly ‘upgrade’ while tossing the ‘ancient’ three year old devices we once drooled over. Put bluntly, e-waste is a nasty blight on our planet. The problem is, we don’t even get to see it since we ship all our waste to the ‘invisible’ developing world. But in a global village, those distant locations are actually our back yard. It will come back to bite us. When you do buy electronics, buy quality and buy devices with replaceable components when hardware failure occurs. Finally, when it is time to retire your favorite electronics, take them to a local non-profit recycler who pulls it apart responsibly, re-using the materials for the next innovations in tech.
What have you done to avoid the consumer-driven cycle of ‘Stuff’?