Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Story of Stuff

This is a great 20-minute movie about the cycle of "stuff". It takes us on a little journey showing how raw materials are obtained, how it gets into our hands and how it all ends up in the landfills. A behind the scenes look, if you will, revealing the true cost of cheap stuff.

One shocking statistic I learned from The Story of Stuff is that 99% of what we buy today ends up in the landfill in six months. Hard to believe? Next time you go shopping and get home, look at what you've purchased and ask yourself: Is all this stuff still going to be in my home in six months? I did that very thing, and sadly, even with all our family does to be sustainable, much of what we buy does end up in the trash. Sounds like we have some serious work to do.

I learned something else very shocking. Did you know that stuff is actually engineered to break? Yep. What we've all suspected for years is true. But there's more to it than that. An even darker side. You'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

My 5 year old thoroughly enjoyed The Story of Stuff and asked me a zillion questions about why society and people are the way they are.  I feel this movie is great springboard for family discussion.

Check it out here: The Story of Stuff

Have you already seen it? Great! What did you think? Are you outraged yet? Outraged more than before? Good! Let's do something about it. There is only so much that we can do, but our actions can show our love and respect for our fellow humans and the earth. By examining our habits and the manner in which we care for our family, I am certain we can all make changes to foster good stewardship of our natural resources.

Are we asking ourselves "Is this a need or a want"? An oldie, but a goodie, as they say. Often times, this can stop us from buying something unnecessary that will not only be thrown away in the near future, but expose our family to toxins in the meantime.

Are we using reusable bags when we shop? I recommend 100% cotton cloth bags. Those cheap ones at the stores are made of chemically treated, highly flammable polyesters. If you already have some of those ones, by all means, keep using them and do not throw them away. But from now on, choose only 100% cotton bags. They will last forever and can be repaired if they rip, unlike the flimsy polyester numbers. Also, many of the polyester ones cannot be washed. Yuck! I wash my bags after I shop. They have been in my car, in carts, on the floor. They need to be washed. I have been using and washing the same cotton bags for almost 10 years and they still look great.

Are we choosing items that have little or no packaging over heavily packaged items? Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but many times if we spend a scant minute or two looking, we can find an alternative to a heavily packaged item. Toilet paper is a good example. Do we buy the individually wrapped rolls? Or do we wisely choose the packages that have the least amount of wrapping? Some families even use cloth wipes. What a way to cut down on waste! Buying in bulk is a great way to avoid heavy packaging too. I also have much of what our family uses shipped directly to my door. From food buying clubs like US Wellness Meats and Azure Standard, to Amazon and, I save our family thousands of dollars each year, while also cutting down on the amount of packaging circulating the earth.

Are we buying second-hand or hand-made if possible? Furniture, clothing, appliances, vehicles, books, toys, can all be found for a fair price and better quality than new. One huge bonus in my book to buying second-hand or hand-made items is that many of the toxic chemicals have out-gassed already, leaving you with a less toxic or non-toxic product.

Are we grouping our errands together? It's widely known that when you do one big shopping trip each month you buy less. When we run to the store several times a week for this and that, we are more apt to buy unnecessary stuff, and contribute to the sad cycle of consumerism. Doing one big shopping trip each month forces us to plan our purchases carefully. I have been doing this for years now and it works wonderfully for our family. I do go to the store to pick up produce and perishables once per week, but I eliminated a weekly Target/Grocery Store trip many years ago.

How are you a good steward of the earth? I would love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. LOL! Love the tv "You Suck" so go shopping. And I guess that all the "fashionistas" out there will know I got 3 pairs of shoes from the thrift store about a month ago. ;-) Very interesting. I am a huge fan of second-hand items, thrift stores and yard sales. I try to recycle as much as possible. I've been re-inspired to compost by a family member ;-). Up in Oregon I worked with the solid waste coordinator for the Public Works Dept and sold many composters, and my intentions as soon as we moved back here was to get one, but have failed to do so as of yet! Lots to think about and put planning into action. Afterall the responsibility to care for the earth our Creator so perfectly designed was placed upon us a long time ago.