Are you interested in consumerism?

If the answer is yes then the Interview video above with the creator of ‘The Story of Stuff’, Annie Leonard is going to be a Sunday ‘must watch’ for you! I was first introduced to Annie Leonard and the Story of Stuff project in 2009 in one of my undergrad sustainability subjects. Her seminal video ‘The Story of Stuff’ from 2007 was shown in class and my life was changed forever. Her short, sharp, and shocking visual explanation of the issues associated with our production systems was a catalyst for my personal sustainability adventures that are centered around the economy and individual consumption habits. 

As a passionate fan of the Story of Stuff and all of it’s affiliated “The Story of…” arms this video made me realize how little I actually knew about it’s creator Annie. I was surprised to learn that in 2014 she was announced leader of Greenpeace USA, a position that, after some Googling, looked perfect for her given her background working for them and other environmental NGO’s prior to the Story of Stuff phenomenon.

Despite all her research into what is ‘wrong’ with the way society operates she remains positive about the future of the planet, stating on the Greenpeace website that:

“While the environmental challenges before us are daunting, I have never felt more optimistic about the collective effort to create a more sustainable world…there is a new environmental movement in this country that is growing stronger and more diverse every day…”   

She has, in past interviews looked at the link between faith, happiness, and consumerism and focuses on a faith based approach to environmental education on the Story of Stuff website. This is an area of interest for me in my personal sustainability education studies as I have spent time exploring the links between sustainability and non-secular beliefs and have found myself forming an opinion that spirituality (of any kind) can assist in establishing the community, compassion, kindness and sense of equality that we need for a sustainable future. This is something that Lenoard speaks about in this interview with The Islamic Monthly.   

What I also noticed through the review of interviews with Lenoard is that she appears to be somewhat of an ‘accidental’ leader. She mentions in the interview above that she never expected ‘The Story of Stuff’ to be as successful as it was. However her passion for change in the materials economy is so infectious it’s not surprising that the Story of Stuff now has nearly 3.5 Million YouTube views. It seems that her passion for change, curiosity for ‘rubbish’ (which extends to digging through peoples rubbish in every town she visits) and ability to shed light on the truth has translated in a way that appeals to people across the globe. Interestingly Lenoard seems to be a relatively introverted person who mentions across many interviews that she would prefer to be at home in her garden than travelling across the globe talking about consumerism.

Annies interview above really shows that no matter who you are or where you live, having a desire for change and a burning passion for sustainability issue (whether its something left-of-centre like going through peoples trash or perhaps you just really love organic cotton) can translate into the most wonderful and exciting career opportunities.

What would you like to see changed in the world? Share your burning passion for sustainability issues in the comments below!

Ps. Is it totally obvious that end of semester masters study is sending me loopy? I think having my head ‘in the books’ may have gone to my head 😉