January 22, 2008

“We are running out of resources. We are using too much stuff.”

So says Annie Leonard on the web site The Story of Stuff, which I ran across the other day when I was Stumbling (Of course I would never stumble during work hours, ah-HEM).

Did you know we have less than 4% of the original forests here in the US? Ouch. That’s just one of the scary statistics Annie presents in her Story, which explains the consumptive process of turning raw materials into “stuff” like iPods, Blackberries, DVDs and cashmere sweaters.

The statistic that I found the most scary, though, is this: only 1% of all products bought in the US today are still in use 6 months after the date of purchase. One percent!! So within just a few months of purchase, we are throwing out (or recycling, if we’re just a little bit more conscious than others) a whopping 99% of what we buy. That statistic is referring only to the products themselves, too, and not the packaging (you know those ridiculous plastic packages that are so hard to open?).

After struggling to open up this package, we just throw it away

Annie, on her Story of Stuff web site, rants about the consumer system in the country. It’s not about one thing, although it’s easy for me to start railing on, for example, vile plastic bags in supermarkets. The problem of overconsumption will not be solved by one thing like hybrid cars, or using cloth bags, or eating only locally produced food products, but, as Annie recommends, a fundamental change in our consumption habits: Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less.

Posted by Emily Long

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