Book #19 came as a birthday present. Light Princess had seen the film, “The Story of Stuff,” and wanted me to be as well-informed as she is. Annie Leonard expanded on the film in her book, The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change. Leonard describes the problems in Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption and Disposal. In the appendices she offers practical suggestions for individual actions.
Naturally, it’s depressing. The world is a dirty, nasty mess. It’s easy to see why the average person feels overwhelmed. How can one person make a difference in the face of corporate practices that emphasize profit over all else?
Leonard points out things that are being done better, and that’s encouraging. She hopes we will change things from the top down, at the point where decisions are made, rather than only reacting to the bad practices of the inheritors of a commercial system built on planned obsolescence. (That section of the book is brilliant and horrifying.)
We live in a state where you can’t dump your TV at a landfill (yay, Maine!), and we didn’t toss the old ones in the digital conversion, and we recycle, and I haven’t purchased makeup (full of toxins) in years, and I’ve cut down drastically on the purchase of bottled water. I read books on my first generation Kindle and just contributed a carload of old books to be resold at a church fundraiser. We try to use our cars as little as possible, though in my line of work, that’s not saying much.
We have a lot of old computers, and I worry about that. As we look at the possibility of moving, they need to go to the appropriate place (which our city has available), but what happens to all that electronic equipment next?
I just can’t see myself with a compost bin full of worms by the back door. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person.
My worst offense, using Leonard’s measure, is having too many shoes. I can only commit to give away the ones I’m not wearing anymore.
What do you feel you do right? Where do you think you could improve where over-consuming is concerned?