Thursday, 19 July 2012

New “Story of Stuff” video

Today I’m featuring the latest video from Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff stable (see below). 

This one is called “The Story of Change” and it has just been released.
Nowadays it’s not enough to simply try to be a green consumer; actual citizen involvement and action is required as well to create sufficient pressure for change that institutions, governments, civil servants and corporations will react and adapt until we get to the promised land of sustainability – I have a dream…

There are phrases that advertising types use, particularly when marketing what they want us to see as greener products. These are such as “doing one’s bit” or “every little bit helps”. Well, this marketing speak unfortunately sometimes achieves a few things that are counter-productive

1) They help to sell products that might appear greener than the competition but are not necessarily green enough to pass muster sustainability-wise – “you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps” - David Lloyd George. Genuinely environmentally friendly products, which might be more expensive but last considerably longer, can be crowded out by superficially green but short lived products that ultimately prove more expensive in real terms and more wasteful because they need replacing more often.

2) Worse, they defuse any social responsibility that the consumer may have felt impelling them to make a genuinely green purchase – or even not to make a purchase by considering whether they need the product at all. The consumer buying the greenish product may feel that they have done their bit – which leads to…

3) Consumers feel that they are trying to “do their bit” so can feel resentment because they don’t understand when environmentalists never seem to accept it was “enough”, so consumers can switch off in high dudgeon and the environmental case gets knocked back.
Having said all that, let’s get back to the video which promotes the idea that it’s not enough to simply change what one buys – it’s not even enough to


"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi


Annie draws parallels with the great reform movements of the past such as anti-apartheid, the US Civil rights movement, Gandhi’s Indian independence movement (which didn’t just stop at encouraging personal change)  and the early successes of the environmental movement in getting anti-pollution laws passed which all came about because of a lot of protesting, campaigning, citizen pressure and occasional fighting. Just buying recycled toilet roll is not enough to cut the sustainability mustard.




Mark Forskitt said...

Thanks for posting that up Nick. And she is right about so much here.
My personal irritation is the focus on recycling. It is not a bad thing, but it is the least effective of reduce, reuse, recycle. We've known that since the 1970's but still not really got the message across. Of course corporate think cannot readily embrace reduce or reuse since they act against the growth imperative.

Nick Palmer said...

I think her "focus on recycling" relates back to the original video - Story of Stuff.

Th basic theme of this was that we are in big trouble because our growth oriented economy demands that we use up more and more stuff, faster and faster. She then made a very powerful case that we should transition to a circular economy and the restrictions of the 20 minute (pushing the limits of some peoples' attention span) cartoon format meant that recycling was used as a publicly well known way to close the loop.

Annie and the rest of the team are of course a little bit more sophisticated than that when they need to be.