THE STORY OF STUFF
The Story of Stuff remains one of the most viral videos to have spread across the internet. Annie Leonard, with the help of some simple animations, talks about the materials economy – how it works, how our consumption patterns feed into it, and the impact is has on our environment.
The video remains popular because it takes a relatively complex, systems issue and makes it understandable to the average learner. As a result of it’s accessibility, a lot of lesson plans and and learning units have been built around this short film. Check it out and think about what kinds of lessons you might see within this film.
The organization, Facing Our Future, developed one of curriculums that is promoted on the Story of Stuff website. Pick one of the lessons to read from the interdisciplinary, high school curriculum, Buy, Use, Toss? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy.
“Consumption is by nature an inter- disciplinary concept. Students can build math and science skills while calculating the carbon footprint of shipping blue jeans across the ocean, or they can engage in civic discourse during a discussion of how we dispose of our waste…
“Thoughtful consumption can play a part in creating a sustainable future. Knowing the story behind the things we buy, use, and toss can help us to consume in ways that improve our lives and the lives of others. The intent of this unit is not to discourage students from buying “stuff ” but rather to equip them with knowledge and skills to help them be informed and empowered consumers.”
Reflection Question: What lesson plan did you choose to read? What aspects of the lesson plan did you find particularly creative or innovative in how it engages students in issues related to environmental sustainability? What is one adaptation you would make on the lesson plan to give it your own twist?
- de Graaf, John & Wann, David & Naylor, Thomas H. Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2nd edition: September 1, 2005.
- Affluenza (film)
- Leonard, Annie. The Story of Stuff (book). Free Press: March 9, 2010.
- The Colbert Report. Interview with Annie Leonard. March 9, 2010.