The Story of Stuff (web, twitter, facebook) is a project that Annie Leonard launched in 2007 through an animated documentary that unveiled the hidden consequences of our excessive consumerism and exhorted us to take action to create “more sustainable practices and just world”. Leonard’s project evolved into three other documentaries and a few weeks ago released the fifth in the series: The Story of Electronics.
This new movie focuses on the millions of electronic gadgets that are produced every year and in the bigger amounts that are thrown away by consumers enchanted by announcements of new, more powerful models. In most cases these new electronics are “designed for the dump”, further incrementing the negative impact that they have in environmental issues and public health.
This also happens in the conference business! Think about the millions of USB Keys and other cheap electronics that are given away at events -both by organizers and sponsors alike- as promotional objects that will mostly end up collecting dust somewhere in your office or house (or worse, thrown directly into the garbage). Is it really of any value to attendees to receive a thumb-drive with a PDF presentation or video that they will never open and that could easily be shared online?
Causes and Solution
According to Leonard:
The thing is, making all these devices takes an enormous environmental and public health toll: mining the metals trashes communities from Congo to Indonesia; assembling them uses huge amounts of water and energy and exposes workers to a host of toxic chemicals; and getting rid of them when we’re on to the next, newer, better model creates mountains of e-waste.
She also proposes a solution:
The good news is that while the production, consumption and disposal of short-lived, toxics laden electronics are a really big problem, the solution is pretty simple: Make ’em Safe, Make ’em Last, and Take ’em Back.
Please share this video with your colleagues and friends and in your next event recommend your sponsors not to give out meaningless and environmentally harmful SWAG – there’s always a more creative, greener way to engage with visitors and be remembered. It takes a bit of an extra effort. However, the results will benefit not only us, our brand and our environment but also the lives of our children and generations to come.
Read more about The Story of Electronics in this article by Annie Leonard on the Huffington Post.