Part 3 – “The Story of Stuff” series
Shopping is enticing. In best case practices, we pay as we go for items we “need”. Unfortunately, abundant enticing credit cards encourage impulsive purchases. Hopes are most purchases are conscious decisions but if marketers have been successful, our subconscious is involved as well. Here are more of Annie Leonard’s thoughts as written in “The Story of Stuff”. After products are produced from extracted materials, it’s time to distribute the Stuff so it can be placed on shelves and to get people shopping!
Distribution – Our country consumes the bulk of the world-wide goods so the practices and damages caused by the constant churning of extraction and production spills all across the world. Many businesses are shipping more jobs overseas, seeking more lax or non-existent labor and environmental laws, and lower wage costs. Leaving many of the toxins behind, now all this Stuff needs to get to the United States. The bulk of that Stuff is shipped in huge carbon spewing ships, many longer than three football fields, from China, India and other places in Asia. Once here, most of that Stuff is loaded into carbon spewing trucks powering down the highways headed to our stores.
Consumption – Once here, to keep this system working, we need to buy – not just some Stuff, lots of Stuff! How did we get to this point?
Before the Industrial Revolution there was a limit to how many resources we could collect and produce by hand. Then by the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, steam engines made it possible for machines to replace people and crank out the goods. Soon we had more Stuff than we needed. Then during the early middle twentieth century, scientists developed a new set of chemical compounds which led to synthetic petro-chemicals replacing naturally occurring materials. As Annie Leonard states “chemists combine molecules to create polymers, which make things harder, stretchier, softer, stickier, glossier, more absorbent, longer lasting, or flame or pest or water resistant.” While we have benefited greatly from the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of so much stuff is excessive.
Now that we have all this Stuff and the ability to make much more, we need consumers to buy more. We are now being told Consuming is Patriotic! Advertising and built-in obsolescence makes sure that Stuff stays in motion.
The Story of Stuff Series
Part I – “My Beloved Stuff”
Part 2 – “The Costs of Stuff”
Part 3 – “Bring on the Stuff”
Part 4 – “Stuff Build-Up”
Part 5 – “Stuff Becomes Trash”
Part 6 – “Consumer Treadmill Pause”
Part 7 – “Healthier Consumer Practices”