Four Frightening Facts About Stuff!
Image from The Story of Stuff Project.
For the 21st episode of the Influenced by Nature Podcast we had the pleasure of speaking to The Story of Stuff Project. Brett Chamberlin, their Community Engagement Project Manager, succeeded in bringing us up to date on the history of over-consumption during the last 100 years and explained why we today keep buying more and more and more stuff that we don't need which harm both people and the planet. Today, our consumer society demands victims all the way from resource extraction, through the linear production system until our goods ends up in landfills around the world.
We hope you by now have listened to the episode - otherwise, you are missing out on a real eye-opener and inspirational talk here! When you have listened, we thought we would highlight a few facts throughout the episode which made us almost speechless. Let's start at the stage in the production line just after resource extraction where Brett said the following:
"1.2 MILLION PEOPLE die of toxic chemicals making consumer goods"
What!? Just from toxic chemicals?? If that is not the best reason to avoid chemicals in the goods that we do necessarily buy, then I am not sure what would be.
It is not only the people working with consumer goods production who are exposed to the toxic chemicals. To create full circle, Brett also stated that:
*The Consumer Goods Industry releases 4 BILLION POUNDS of chemicals each year"
That is 4 billion pounds of chemicals released back into the environment to the "joy" of both the environment, wildlife and the people living close by.
But who are actually benefitting or being affected by the world of consumption? Well, according to Brett:
"The riches 20% consume 76% of consumer goods"
"The poorest 20% consumes 1.5% of consumer goods"
Auchhh, that hurts right? Not only are we, as I assume most of you guys reading this, living in developed countries and therefore most likely a part of the top 20% in the world - the pollution is also primary affecting the poorest people in our global society, who is not even using any of the goods produced! What a world.
There is one way, in which the current craving of consumer goods is affecting all of us globally, whether we buy all of these items or not: through climate change. Let this be the fourth and final quote from Brett and the Story of Stuff Project:
"30% OF CO2 EMISSIONS are from the distribution of consumer goods"
It is about time we start talking about how consumer goods effects us and the environment. Let us ensure that we create much less waste, that we close the production loop, stop purchasing unnecessary items and start valuing and strengthening our relationships to each other instead.