The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

graphic showing one person with filled shopping cart and another with filled garbage can
See The Story of Stuff at

A friend of mine sent me a link to The Story of Stuff, a twenty-minute animation/video about our chain of consumption and the many negative impacts it has. It’s certainly thought-provoking, and since one of the main purposes of this blog is to provoke thought, I thought I’d share it here. While it is simplified, and may be a bit exaggerated in places, I like it because it does a good job tying things into a big picture—and I like big pictures. We have a tendency to focus on one area at a time: energy independence, protection of natural resources, climate change, industrial waste, and so on, but they are all aspects of a central issue, and that’s that we are living an unsustainable lifestyle, and that we need to change our outlook, not just isolated habits.

Amy Tiemann wrote about the video in CNET’s News Blog; below is an excerpt:

The Story of Stuff illustrates the consumption chain and aims to reframe our conversation from unlimited production and consumption to sustainability and equity. The video is quite engaging, and I was impressed by its simplicity and effectiveness. No flashy graphics or sensational techniques, just simple line animation accompanying a 20-minute video lecture by sustainability expert Annie Leonard.

There are several ways to watch it. I suggest watching it in Flash format. (There are links to the individual sections so you don’t have to watch it all at once, or you can go back and forth.) You can also download a 50-MB Quicktime movie. Finally, I’ve included YouTube clips for each chapter below; this is probably the simplest way and you can watch it in pieces.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Extraction

Chapter 3: Production

Chapter 4: Distribution

Chapter 5: Consumption

Chapter 6: Disposal

Chapter 7: Another Way

For more information about the information raised in the video, you can take a look at the resources page. If you’re motivated to action, there is a list of ten little and big things you can do. If you want to go further, there are numerous organizations working to tackle the various facets of this problem.


Australia to Ratify Kyoto Protocol; United States Remains Apart

Hours after taking office, Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, initiated the process of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases to help fight climate change. (See, for instance, the Sydney Morning Herald or the BBC). 174 countries have ratified the agreement; the United States is notably absent, especially now that Australia is joining their ranks.

Map of countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol
Map of countries and their position towards the Kyoto Protocol. Green countries have signed and ratified the treaty; yellow countries have signed but not yet ratified it. Red countries have signed but have no intention of ratifying. Gray countries have not taken a position. See full-sized version. Source: Wikipedia.

Gmail Chat (Google Talk) Now Compatible with AOL Instant Messenger

From the Official Google Blog:

We’ve been working with AOL on ways to let our users talk to their buddies on the AIM network, and I’m delighted to announce that the fruits of that labor are live. Starting today, Gmail users can sign into their AIM accounts via Gmail chat and talk with AIM buddies just as they do with their Google Talk friends. Best of all, the features you love most about Gmail chat, such as chat history and automatic sorting of your buddies based on frequency of communication, work seamlessly across your Google and AIM buddies.

I love to see common standards and different services working together. Let’s hope we see more collaboration like this!