Six years ago, Annie Leonard released The Story of Stuff, a compelling 20-minute video in which Leonard illustrated the vicious cycle of unbridled consumerism from factory to daily life to landfill.
“We have a problem with Stuff,” Leonard declared. “We use too much, too much of it is toxic, and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better, not more; sharing, not selfishness; community, not division.”
It was a brief animated statement that became a movement (500,000 worldwide members and counting).
Soon, there were more movies—stories of bottled water, cosmetics, electronics, and so on.
While each video addressed ideas for working toward happy endings, Leonard just released a fabulous finale to her “stuff” series that hits the cumulative nail on the head:
The Story of Solutions.
“In what I call the ‘Game of More,’ politicians cheer a steadily growing economy at the same time as our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing, and polar icecaps are melting,” writes Annie Leonard in this month’s issue of YES! Magazine. “But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better—better health, better jobs, and a better chance to survive on the planet? Shouldn’t that be what winning means? That’s the question I ask in my new movie.”
Leonard points us to the plastic packaging problem as a case in point.
“Game of More” solutions include initiatives that reward people with gift cards to buy things if they recycle plastic bags and containers. Sounds like a nice idea, but think about it: This strategy really just encourages a “more is better” economy.
Leonard proposes new solutions such as campaigns that are trying to ban plastic packaging. “By volunteering their time, these citizens are declaring that there’s something more important to them than just earning and spending more,” she explains. “To win this campaign, these citizens are going to have to team up with forward-thinking businesses offering alternatives to throwaway plastic packaging.”
Changing the goal of the entire economy—from more to better—is a monumental undertaking. Annie Leonard doesn’t deny it.
“We can’t do it all at once. But I argue that by focusing on game-changing solutions, we can steadily build an economy that values things like safer, healthier, and more fair as much as we currently value faster, cheaper, and newer,” she says.
Take nine minutes to hear more of Leonard’s spot-on logic (seriously spot-on—I love this woman) in the Story of Solutions video, below: