Where Does All That “Stuff” Come From?

Ever wonder how that little radio you bought for less than $5 at Radio Shack was made? Where did the materials come from, who assembled it, how did it make it all the way to your local store for less than five bucks, and where does it go when you throw it away?

Recently, I happen to stumble upon Annie Leonard’s “Story of Stuff” The 20-minute web documentary gives viewers an easy-to-understand view of the production cycles of every day goods we consume and what happens to them when we are done with them, what she calls the “materials economy.” Some may argue the video oversimplifies global production cycles, but it conjures a laundry list of connections between consumerism and how buying “stuff” affects social and environmental issues. It also might just make you think a little more before you buy something you don’t really need.

Here are a few startling facts from the video:

  • In the past three decades, one-third of the planet’s natural recourses have been consumed.
  • The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but we’re consuming 30% of the world’s resources and creating 30% of the world’s waste.
  • The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they used to.
  • In the United States, we have less than 4% of our original forests left.
  • 80 % of the planet’s original forests are gone.
  • 40% of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.
  • In the U.S. we spend three to four times as many hours shopping as our European counterparts do.
  • We each see more advertisements in one year than people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.
  • If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets.

by Shelby Stanger

Bill Malloy

Author Bill Malloy

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