Activist warns about the perils of 'stuff'

By: WARREN EPSTEIN
December 4, 2009
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Youtube eco-sensation Annie Leonard has spent most of her life studying "stuff" -- you know, the crap we buy every day: iPods, burgers, diapers, printer paper, washing machines, gum, cars, shoes.

 

The kind of stuff most of us buy in record numbers during the holiday season.

 

Her video, “The Story of Stuff,” which has had about 10 million page views online, details in a simplistic, almost childlike way, the linear journey that stuff takes to get to our homes and the journey it takes when we toss the stuff out.

 

During a talk Thursday night at Colorado College. Leonard suggested that everybody understands, if only on a subconscious level, that this linear model of extraction, manufacture, sale, purchase and disposal, can’t go on forever.

 

“I know that we’re going to change,” she told the audience at Packard Hall. “It’s inevitable. We’ll change by design or default.”

 

Default, she said, will be a lot uglier and more violent.

 

“We have simply got to turn up the volume on this conversation,” she said.

 

She said working toward ecological transformation not only will stop the trashing of our planet and each other, “It’s fun.”

 

She argued that moving from material lives to lives focused on building friendships and community, will bring more individual fulfillment.

 

She’s currently writing a book version of “The Story of Stuff.” She desperately hopes that copies don’t end up in landfills.

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