I really encourage you to watch this online animation called The Story of Stuff. It's about the lifecycle of the things we buy and the inherent problem with the processes involved: that natural resources will run out, that people are exploited along the way, and that it's actually worsening our quality of life. It's really easy to watch.
Some of the things learned:
- Only 1% of the things we buy are still in use in 6 months. 99% is trashed within 6 months.
- In just the past 30 years, one third of the world's natural resources were used up.
- There are 100,000 different chemicals used in commercial products, and only a handful of them have been tested for health effects.
- For every 1 garbage can that we put out on the curb, 70 cans worth of garbage were produced in making the amount we used up.
- The little guy representing the government shining the shoes of the fat corporation guy.
- "We'll start with extraction, which is a fancy word for 'natural resource exploitation', which is a fancy word for 'trashing the planet'."
- "We take our pillows, we douse them in a neuro-toxin [a flame retardant chemical], then we bring them home and put our heads on them for 8 hours a night to sleep? I don't know, but it seems to me in this country with so much potential, we could think of a better way to keep our heads from catching on fire at night."
I suppose that the high stats per person of waste and consumption means that if we buy less and try not to support the 'buy disposable' system, then we're doing a lot of good. If one can of the garbage we put out each week actually represents 71 cans, then by cutting that down to a quarter of a can, we'd save about 50 cans per week. That's a lot.
It's easy to conform to the idea that new is better, given it's blasted into our heads with advertising everywhere we turn and it seems to be what others are doing. It's great that there are videos like this to renew my dedication to a sustainable lifestyle.