Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Story Of Stuff

I always liked stuff... I figured out at an early age that if I wanted more stuff, I needed to make some money. So I made my bed, sold stuff door to door, washed dishes, waited tables, and babysat little children. I bought a cool bike, clothes, a KORG keyboard, a motorcycle helmet, a camera, a stereo, more clothes, and lots of books. I never spent one minute thinking about where this stuff came from and where it would go when I was done with it.

When I pondered what I should do when I grew up, I focused on what would allow me to make lots of money. Not because I really needed more stuff, but because I wanted to have a big house and a nice car. Because that's what matters, right? You are valued based on your stuff collection, your BMW, and your neighborhood. I also wanted to be able to travel all over the world and not have to worry about money. So I got a college degree which led to a good job. I worked really hard at that job and that led to promotions and more money. (Aka "The American Dream.")

One day I woke up and realized had all the stuff I needed and money to spare. I also realized that I wasn't really happier than I was before, even though I had more and bigger and better stuff. I was living the "money doesn't buy happiness" saying. On top of this, I started to realize that more stuff meant more maintenance work and more harm to the environment. Not cool. So I started to declutter. I gave a lot of stuff away to people who needed it more than I did. I moved to a small apartment. I started to make buying decisions based on need vs. want, environmental impact, and quality. I started researching other ways to help the environment and make the world a better place.

I'm still working on it. I could get rid of more stuff. I could buy less books and use the library more often. I could stop buying bananas (or at least offset the fossil fuels used to transport them all the way to my kitchen). I could bike to work every day instead of once a week and get rid of my car. But that's part of the fun... Getting better over time. Doing more good and less harm one day at a time.

The Story Of Stuff is an awesome 20-minute film that talks about how obsessed we are with stuff and what our level of consumerism really does to our planet. It is wonderfully simple and thought-provoking. Give it a try!

You will never think about stuff the same way again.

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