Emily McCullough Exercise 11 Section 2 “The Story of Stuff: A System in Crisis” Our world is slowly being filled with toxins that are not only harming us, but will also harm our children and more generations to follow. In the “Story of Stuff” videos Annie Leonard reveals so many hidden factors that we as consumers are unaware of. The video titled “The Story of Stuff” explains to us the linear sequence system that we are using, how much we are hurting our planet and how we can fix it.
There are several other videos that this organization has published, but the two that I chose to learn more about were “The Story of Cosmetics” and “The Story of Bottled Water”. Both of these videos show us things that I, personally, was oblivious to and I’m sure many other Americans are too. In “The Story of Stuff” video tells us that we use a linear system: extraction, production, distribution, consumption, then discard. Companies that produce our goods assume that there is no limit on extraction and production, but the Earth has a limit.
Americans make up 5% of the worlds population but we are using 30% of the worlds natural resources. In the past three decades we have consumed one third of our natural resources. If we continue to use resources at this speed we will use up all that we have and be left with nothing. Another thing I was surprised to learn was how much it really cost to make a product. It takes more money to produce a product under $5 than anyone is making back. It cost to produce the product in the factory, pay the cost of labor, ship the product to the store, then the cost of being on the shelf.
Our economy is losing money with this system. Once we get the item soon enough there will quickly be a new, nicer, more modern version of the item that we “must have” so therefore the first item becomes garbage. 99% of our stuff becomes garbage in six months. The cost of these products is much more than money, during the production stage many toxins are released from factories and contaminate not only the air but also the product that is being sent out. Then once the product becomes garbage it is either tossed in a landfill or burned, either way polluted our world.
There is no one person to blame our pollution on, after all on average each person produces 4. 5 pounds of waste daily. The pollution began with us, so it needs to end with us. We need to recycle every object that we can and cut back on buying every new object that comes out (“Story of Stuff « The Story of Stuff Project. “). The Story of Cosmetics was definitely the video that shocked me the most. Many products on the market have carcinogens in them which are ingredients that can lead to cancer. Most of these products also have twelve or more chemicals in them.
Some of the chemicals in these products are neurotoxins which cause brain damage and reproductive toxins that can cause problems in reproduction. Lots of products place words on their labels like “herbal”, “natural”, or “organic” according to the video these words are nothing but a lure to make us feel safer about the products we are putting on and in our body (“Story of Cosmetics « The Story of Stuff Project. “). The other video I chose watch was “The Story of Bottled Water” the thing I was most surprised to learn about bottled water was how much the production and disposal of just the plastic bottle harms our world.
The oil produced to create the bottles is enough to fuel one million cars and 80% of the bottles are either burned or placed in landfills which release toxins into the air and Earth. Bottled water is actually one of the products that isn’t truly needed. Almost everyone in our country has access to clean water and bottled water isn’t exactly clean. Test have been preformed that show that there are still chemicals in bottled water and some of them are just filtered tap water (“Story of Bottled Water « The Story of Stuff Project. “). This was just another tactic for these companies to suck the consumer in and make more money.
What these videos are telling us about our economy is that all of these companies and the media are coming up with new ideas and products to gain money, but it is hurting our world so badly. Bottled water, the newest computer, or seventeen cosmetic products daily are not worth the toxins and natural resource space depleting. After viewing all three videos the thing that I was most impressed and surprised by was that the FDA does not assess personal care products or the ingredients put in them and that since 1938 only eight ingredients have been banned in cosmetics (“Story of Cosmetics « The Story of Stuff Project. ). Watching all of these videos and learning about what our product consumption does to our world has been a huge wake up call to me and has made me realize that if we do not change our ways soon we will have no natural resources and be living in nothing but toxins. Works Cited “Story of Bottled Water « The Story of Stuff Project. ” The Story of Stuff Project. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. “Story of Cosmetics « The Story of Stuff Project. ” The Story of Stuff Project. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. “Story of Stuff « The Story of Stuff Project. ” The Story of Stuff Project. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.