A Stickman Story of Conscious Consumption

Annie Leonard, an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, gives a fast-paced walkthrough of the Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal phases of the consumer goods life cycle in The Story of Stuff.

Informative and fast-paced, the video aims to raise public awareness of consumerism and global corporations with Annie’s passionate narrative and simple stickman illustrations. It’s an excellent presentation style.

However, the issue raised on dipping pillows in brominated flame retardants (BFRs) before selling them seems too extreme and frightening to ah chen. My 香香枕头 has been killing my brain cells all this while?!

Blogger Andy Brian did some research on BFRs after being freaked out by Annie’s claim, and so far there’s no concrete research findings to back up Annie.

From the perspective of a ex-NSF fireman, restricting the use of fire retardants is a tricky issue. On one hand we need to protect consumers from an industrial chemical, on the other hand we can’t compromise the fire safety of firefighters. You’ll only understand if you’ve experienced the heat. My *ahem* shrank when I was inside a burning warehouse.

There’re other areas of the video which aren’t well-supported and sound biased (covered pretty well by Andy), but given the time constraint of 20 minutes, it was a commendable feat in driving home the message of sensible and conscious consumption.

Capitalism has its benefits and rewards those who strive for their best, but it takes a narrow view of assuming humans are one-dimensional beings concerned with only the pursuit of maximum profits and utility. The Story of Stuff and China Blue both suggest that this system is in need of some modifications and tweaking.

Below is my favourite part of the clip. The animations depict the mindless rat race perfectly. Catch this provocative video in its entirety here!

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