Saturday, May 16, 2009

Telling a Story about Stuff

Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace employee and current freelance lecturer, created this kid-friendly documentary to teach about issues of production, consumption, and unsustainability. The documentary, The Story of Stuff, addresses the chain of global production and consumption, from the felling of trees to the buying of products to the throwing away of those products. All of which is presented in a simple, animated model with an accessible, boyant, and witty narration.

Evidently, some educators have found this documentary useful in their classrooms for teaching about global ecological issues. Here are the benefits, as I see them, of this documentary. First, Leonard presents a simple, accurate, and intelligible model regarding global production and consumption. The model is visual, verbal, intelligent, and engaging. Second, the documentary addresses a number of issues that could be explored in a more robust curriculum.

Leonard raises two issues in particular that I think are worth exploring further. First, global capitalism and its connection to politics, violence, and inequality. Second, the relation between individuals and communities to the aforementioned system of production and consumption.

You can check out a recent article in the New York Times on Leonard, this documentary, and teaching at

You can watch The Story of Stuff (it is 20 minutes long) here:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this, I've been meaning to myself.