In Review :: The Story of Stuff

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The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard.
Documentary, 2007, 20 minutes,
Free Range Studios, Christopher Herrera, Tides Foundation, Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption.

Everyone is concerned about global warming, but no one seems willing to say the fatal words: We must start consuming less. Our consumerism uses up resources, pollutes the planet, poisons humans, destroys species, keeps people in poverty, and contributes to global warming—all without making anyone happier.

An anti-consumerism diatribe is not something people want to hear, though, so you need something short and sweet that grabs and holds peoples’ attention.

That’s what we have in The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. In just 20 minutes, her little film lays out the problems in our consumption of “stuff” and shows how everything is linked: environmental problems with social justice issues with declining happiness. Plus she shows how corporations have undermined the government in its role of protecting the common good. We might think everyone understands these ideas, but not so; this film can help with that.

In particular, this short and punchy film, produced by Free Range Studios, is a perfect tool to reach young people. It’s a way to get their attention because young people can watch it on the Internet and send the link on to their friends. It has cartoons and an energetic and compelling presentation. You could also use it to start good conversations at all sorts of gatherings whether at church, or school, or work. The web site gives tips for hosting a screening and provides a lot more information on consumerism at

This film activates people to change. It’s not so dismal that you feel despairing—as Annie says, “It’s not like gravity that we just gotta live with. People created it, and we’re people too. So let’s create something new.” You’re left feeling, “Let’s get started!”

Photo of Cecile Andrews

:: WATCH: The Story of Stuff
:: UNDERSTAND: The Bigger Picture
:: TAKE ACTION: 10 Little and Big Things You Can Do
:: MAIN INDEX: The Story of Stuff: Another Way

website has many more resources, including an annotated script of the movie, a detailed glossary, facts, tips for holding a screening in your classroom or community as a service learning project, and more.

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