The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff

2007, Environment  -   77 Comments
Ratings: 8.07/10 from 135 users.

The Story of StuffBut the truth is, it's a system in crisis, and the reason it's a system in crisis is it's a linear system and we live on a finite planet, and you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

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3 years ago

The resolution of the video has become quiet bad. Is it possible to fix?

Lisa Marie Green
8 years ago


Reodor Kruse
9 years ago

and then???
it's a nice explanation, but it doesn't give you much of a solution.

We're all going to hell in a handbasket
If we don't find a solution pretty soon, and stop worshipping all kinds of worthless warmongering god-isms, and spending all our time and resources killing eachother and our planet over these obsolete god delusions, we're gonna have to find find a new place to live.
Where's the next best earth?

10 years ago

The youtube community ripped this to

way out
10 years ago

The consumption that we do is the main reason of business growth .

10 years ago

consume just enough and do not waste, stop greediness, donate and share, recycle, discipline, love the nature, concern for yourself and the next generation and if all people will participate in this kind of action that will be a great help to somehow save Our Mother Earth...

10 years ago

Although the computer part here is greatly simplified, the truth is that there are both perceived and planned obsolescence at work.

Dakota J. Sather
10 years ago

The computer part isn't entirely accurate.

While the technology DOES change quite quickly it's not that drastic. Most people probably don't need to change out computers as often as they do but most people aren't computer savvy enough to know how to upgrade their machine themselves (via new drivers, software, individual components, etc). This is why it's much more effective to build your own computer if you have the time to learn how - and it doesn't require much technical expertise, these days most components are "plug n play" and require being screwed in at most. Then you can easily change out obsolete hardware when it actually IS obsolete and you don't pay for features you don't need.

Philip Fong
10 years ago

Technology is not like you change the microchip only, the process fund inventions, not just one micro chip. Some people can stay with old software and hardware but when it broke down, you have no choice but to buy the latest and new one don't lasts also waste money fixing problems.
If there is no virus, no antivirus is needed and that is a wastage. So, just a few individuals are notorious and we all have to pay. Why? Sounds like insurance, you'll never know when you need it, what cause the system to break is greed and over population.

george blair
11 years ago

the computer part is wrong

11 years ago

Thanks for this bit of nudging, Cass Sunstein. My best to your wife, Responsibility-to-Protect Samantha Power.

11 years ago

John you are obviously a very confused, and no very little about famine/ world hunger. 50 years ago yes they said that, and they might of miscalculated it a little bit, but if you do some research you'd find out that there are more people starving then ever before, and that has nothing to do with killing the rich farmers, it is that these 3rd world countries get these massive loans that they can't ever pay off so these massive corporations come in, and set up shop literally destroying the local markets, and the farmers supply of food/productive resources. Look it up! 1% of the world doesn't own all of the money, but 99% of the productive resources throwing away millions of tons of food each year to maintain profit then hoarding all of the rest, the whole idea of capitalism is produce enough, and make sure there is some left over for others, not to hoard everything when you get into a position of power that is, so disproportional to the rest of the world, and if you think the system we have in place today is a capitalist one you are highly ignorant, having 1% of the world that owns 99% of the productive resources, and most of all of the resources on the planet that is an oligarchy; it is anti competition, and anti small business when you have a small percentage owning that many productive resources. This infinite growth paradigm is highly destructive to our earth if you don't believe so you are living in a fantasy world, we are governed by natural laws that is it, and the notion that big business produces the best possible goods at the lowest possible prices is ridiculous, for these giant corporations to maintain profit they have to produce goods that have a high turn over rate, and break down easy, so you can consume more and more, most of the money goes towards advertising to give you a false since of inadequacy if you don't have certain items to influence people to mindlessly consume, which speeds up the process tremendously of resource depletion, and waste, so if you really think that infinite growth is a trivial matter at this point you are dead wrong man, and of course economists are going to say things like this is irrelevant, they have vested interest, for if you listen to scientists people who actually study the earth they would assure you that infinite growth is by far one of the most detrimental problems facing society today.

john ng
11 years ago

I'm so tired when people take the assumption of the "FINITE". 50 years, ago they said there wouldn't be enough food for 6billion people, oh and look we've got 7 billion now. If pple studied Ricardian economics 100 years ago, he said the same thing, and then Karl Marx (founder of communism) then also based his theory on this with his labour theory of value. This then caused people to destroy the technology industry, kill the rich people and redistribute the remainder of the wealth and then slowly steep into poverty again. IDIOTS!! the same stuff happens in africa this very day, they kill all the rich farmers, and the whole country goes into a famine. This doco blames technology and then recredits 'some' of the technology if its green, hello!! Its the same technology that your bashing.. It's so much idiocy. Don't even get me started on her understanding of consumption, if she even studied any economics i.e. keynes or milton, she would know why the economy is structured the way it is, and not pretend like she found some magic phenomenon that "we are consuming".

jahedul islam
11 years ago

I was really a great documentary film(No doubt). It has change the course of understanding of my life....

11 years ago

This is a good documentary. For those of you that think it wasn't or that the math is wrong... where is your math? If this is propaganda... what are they trying to advertise? A healthy and fair world? Pretty scary stuff ;)

11 years ago

so no real solution to today's problems, it would have been completed if there was some illuminati and free masons drama,... let's all hug trees and kiss them, and see how the economy rises for ever ! ,... lost my time watching this one!!

11 years ago

Phew, now i'm breathless. nicely done. Always good to be reminded...

11 years ago

Short & sassy, it goes dorectly to the point.
Sort of an educational docu seen in high schools. It round off the whole situation allright but there's no follow up on what is done or what could be done to solve the case.


Raymond Michaud
11 years ago

This is a totally simplistic and juvenile view. First the US does not exploit other countries resources, each country exploits its own resources, by either using or selling those resources. In the USA logging companies for instance are required by law to replant trees to replace the ones cut down, in Brazil the the Brazilian farmers are cutting down rain forest to feed themselves and to search for gold. Second it lumps every manufacturing process together, it makes no differentiation between the chair you are sitting on or the rug on the floor or the eye glasses or computer it is all the same to her. She is right it is not the whole story and this version is very incomplete. Also the tone is very patronizing, she is all knowing and I am a child.

11 years ago

If you think this is biased you are obviously in denial. The system is actually far worse than what was presented here. We need to take action and take it now. We must abandon the system.

11 years ago

This was very biased. I remember watching it in my Science class in high school. I used to be very impressionable and became scared, but after a few years I began to see how biased this really is.

Although it does display many truths, i.e. pollution, resources, big business. But it was stretched beyond the reality of it.

11 years ago

marxist socialist communist propaganda

11 years ago

While I agree with her overall sentiment, as usual this person has stretched the facts to fit her purposes. Here are just a few minor corrections. 1st, Industry recycles more than individuals, not the other way around. 2nd, While Dioxins are a nasty class of hydrocarbon they are produced by forest fires, as well as other natural phenomenon, not just industry- oh and by the way- not one single case of contamination by any toxin has been recorded to be due to pillow exposure, give me break lady!! Brominated materials are less likely to burn, and this flame resistance is directly responsible for SAVING lives. Brominated hydro-carbons occurr in nature everyday, they are part of a family of compounds called halogenated hydrocarbons. Any element in row seven of the periodoc table is called a halogen, and they all bond to hydrocarbons in nature, with the exception of astatine which is a short lived radio active element. 3rd, and most important to me, synthetic chemistry does not produce alien compounds or elements, it produces compounds that already exist to greater or lesser degrees in nature. Its called "synthetic" simply because we controll the amounts of reactants and the environment they will combine in insted of nature.

O.k. so what did I agree with? We are definetly running a linear system which can never work on a finite planet; the cycle of ever increasing consumption coupled with depletion of resources is a system that will inevitably fail. I also agree with her summation of when and how we ended up in this role of consumer, I thought her example of Bush telling us to shop after 9/11 was very represenative of this fact. Also I agree with her point that the west, the U.S. in particular, consumes a disproportionate amount of the worlds resources, leaving the rest of the world in need and poverty.

However, I feel the answer to this problem will eventually come from our research in synthetic chemistry, manufacturing and recycling techniques, etc. Not from abandoning the modern world to revert to some primitive state. The very things that most people want to blame for our present situation are the keys to getting out of our present situation. Synthetic chemistry sounds horrible when you say it, doesn't it. It sounds like you are creating unnatural things that should never really exist. The truth of the matter is that almost every compound created through so called synthetic chemistry also exist in nature. Synthetic chemistry simply means that we started with two or more elements or compounds and combined them in such a way as to create a new compound. If I mix NaCl (sodium chloride) and H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) we get sodium sulfate Na2(SO4) and HCl (hydrogen chloride) gas. The ionic compounds have reformed in a lower energy state of increased entropy. Now this happens all the time in nature, all of the above compounds exist in nature and when they meet, viola. But this is a example of what we call synthetic chemistry. Not such a monster anymore huh? Most synthetic chemistry takes place with organic compounds, hydrocarbons of different kinds. We start with one organic compound and through different chemical means, some simple others not, we add or remove the different functional or alkyl groups that give us our desired product. This process has been responsible for creating endless lists of useful, sometimes life saving, compounds and for giving us a cost effective way to collect and use otherwise very rare compounds.

Our "money, money, money is all that matters" life style is more to blame for our societal and environmental ills than modern science, by a long shot. Modern science provides us with useful tools and knowledge, what we do with those tools and that knowledge is NOT the fault of science. Nuclear technology is a prime example, it can be used by small men with small minds to destroy and inflict horrible suffering, or it can be used by mature responsible adults to create cost effective electrical energy that enhances the quality of our lives, it's up to us.

brian rose
11 years ago

The problem is twofold.

1. Population.
2. Wealth.

The earth could support 7 billion people living on a dollar a day (a dollar a day simply representing an individuals claim on resources). The earth could also support 500 million people living on $140 a day, but it cannot have both high population and high consumption.

Luckily for those living at the moment nature allows species to go beyond the carrying capacity of their environment for a short time. To be beyond ones carrying capacity is usually signaled by a contracting resource base (declining fisheries, fresh water, soil erosion, fossil fuel depletion). In time this leads to a population crash, and a carrying capacity lower than before the over exploitation of resources.

Should be an interesting century. Good thing I'm only 24 years old, so I get to be one of very few human beings to ever live that will witness the peak and fall of a global civilization (that's not sarcasm as people in the past had to endure far harsher realities on a daily basis. I'm genuinely excited to witness history as opposed to reading about it).

11 years ago

This is a must see for all those people who defend their right to reproduce all the children they desire and claim this earth of ours can sustain more than we can possibly produce.

No matter what, the majority of our natural resources are already gone!

People keep making more and more people w/o a thought to the impact this has on everyone else.

Our government should not be handed the power over how many children a person can have, yet we dare them not to act?

Sterilints in our water, birth control commercials, Aids, Cancer (cures have been found, they don't want us to know), hormone injected meat, monsanto, etc.

Rumor has it, 90% population reduction is what they have planned.

Nice simple, short, very imformative video.

11 years ago

Was this made for 10yr olds? Wow, found her annoying....

11 years ago

absolutely brilliant, to the point, not long. One of the best videos, all should see

11 years ago

Did Obama get the memo? He needs to see this!

Joe Fletcher
11 years ago

I am just as guilty as anyone in this system but here are a couple of things I started doing to try and end this cycle. I only buy clothes from second hand stores. I have greatly reduced my intake of meat, trying to just by local organic foods. When I buy something I try to make sure it is a long lasting material. I never use throw away containers. I always try to keep lights and electric devices off when not in use. I send all my broken electronics to be repaired, and given to Non profits.

11 years ago

I use this documentary in my class all the time. There are translations in many languages, and free teaching tools that accompany it.

Check out the website for awesome free downloads, etc. Really great stuff.

12 years ago

Spot on! You have clearly identified the problem! However we now need to find a sustainable and amicable resolution.. Not quite so easy. Consideration needs to be given to employment, the environment, the sustainability of population and foremost: EQUALITY..As opposed to the big end of town vs. the ordinary person in the street?

12 years ago

so true

12 years ago

she travelled for 10 years to find that out.....

12 years ago

First of all it was put together in a 20 min segment for a reason all you brainiacs..duh! This makes me realize that there will always be opposing factors here as long as there are people, and regardless to how much truth is exposed.When the tyrant you acknowledged as your president told you we were going to war for s*** no one could confirm (then or now) how many opposed that. Where as all this moral fervor when people in other lands were dying in our names???Simply put..this documentary was put together for laymen, and so-called intellectual alike to drive home the point of responsibility that we all share in this destructive process so spare us your denials ok.Its not about [YOU] the egomaniac, it's by the people, and for the people..people!!Many thanks to the creators of such a creative, and thought provoking documentary.

12 years ago

Her information on desktop computers is blatantly wrong.

12 years ago

Protect ourselves n our children to neutralize influences that keep us a 'programmed robotic' consumer whereby life on earth is harmed n our psyche is marginalized. Corporations backed by decades of lobbyists have created a consumer society whereby shopping is our leisure activity accompanied by TV commercials, billboards, malls, festival booths, resulting in gross excesses, stockpiles n personal clutter.

12 years ago

A nice doc that potentially will keep kids attention long enough to get the message about the negative sides of consumerism.
I really like the use of cartoon, if they made it in real shops they wouldn't have been able to condense it to 21 minutes of *to the point info*.
Well done

12 years ago

This is excellent documentary, although I do agree with Rachel about the breast-feeding part being rushed through and not explained enough. Coming from the point of a rawvegan chef and health consultant, I believe the biggest thing missing from this presentation is the huge impact of the food we buy and eat. The food people buys affects the earth dramatically, as well as our health. Our health affects our level of desire to do anything about anything. Processed foods breed apathy, and that apathy is a major part of the overall bundle of issues.

I do like that this documentary is very to-the-point for the most part, and that it does fill in the blanks for anyone who has never thought about "stuff" at all.

12 years ago

While all the information provided is interesting and critical to share.... the comments about breastfeeding can easily be misinterpreted. The alternative to breastfeeding is artificial, is unnatural. Cows are full of chemicals too, so is their milk. This topic was rushed through and really gave the message that breastfeeding was not the thing to do. Was this sponsored by an artificial baby milk company?

Oriwo Evans
12 years ago

This reality is painfully true. The saddest part of it is that it is happening in real time! Let us shape up or we shall be shipped out. Nature is very UNFORGIVING!

12 years ago

The presenter talked like she was speaking to a child. I could see this being shown in schools. Did you notice the walmart reference with always low prices and smiley face at the box mart. I don't think it's just consumption but population that has been an issue. There are no real limits to how many children you can breed in most countries (china exception). We aren't gaining more land in the US - we just build higher now to stuff everyone in. At some point we will become packed too as long as people keep living longer because of medicine so I don't see consumption getting better. Only thing I can say I've done to aid the problem is get off the materialism train and wear my clothes until they fall apart, don't buy things until they break and even then use the broken part for something if I can and it's a plastic etc. since that takes forever to break down. Hey, maybe humans were meant to break this planet - we could just be the example of what not to do for a future species {wink}

Don Houssen
13 years ago

We have to stop and think and I congratulate "The Story of Stuff" on focusing efforts on bringing the story to life and into people's awareness, Thank you. .. A very good example of over consumption can also be seen in a relatively new industry... self-storage units...not existing just a few years ago now a billion dollar business.... storing stuff we dont use and not need.. come on everybody please wake up. For the earths sake.

13 years ago

@Cultural Geography, study it

I want you to be correct. I really do (well except the part where we 'knowingly' pass down uncertainty to our children). But there are certain unbreakable thermodynamic and population principles at work:
1) Energy is finite, and will forever be. Even if more energy is available the cost of extracting it will increase geometrically. It's not about innovation or technology, unless you believe in perpetual motion.
2) Populations of living organisms, including humans, have throughout history exploded and contracted in predictable and well defined ways, usually by a mismatch between population and available resources. This is due mostly to eleventh hour logic. If the amount of water in a jar doubles every second from 6am, and is full to capacity at 11 pm, when will the jar be half full? 10:59 pm. We currently have an unsustainably high human population due mostly to the temporary abundance of cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels. Sunlight is the ultimate source of energy for the planet. Photosynthesis traps that energy in plants and eventually this energy can become oil. We have consumed millions of years of such energy in a few short decades, and we have become comfortable at that unsustainable level of energy consumption.
3) Could it be that the very intelligence you assign to humans, which is responsible for our ability to 'innovate and discover,' is the source of the slowly building awareness that something is fundamentally wrong with our current situation?

Does intelligence mean we constantly look to ways for future generations to grow the jar, or does it mean we realize the problem and act today?

13 years ago

Good little documentary.

Just one point. It's not possible to update a computer by replacing a single chip. All components inside desktop computers have continually been updated and improved so there are valid technological reasons for buying a whole new PC every few years.

13 years ago

I will recommend this film doc for Earth Day Eco-kids info.

13 years ago

This is a good film. Simple and to the point and it keeps your attention, would definately be good for kids!!!

13 years ago

Is there a published paper or page of citations to fact check a majority of these claims?

14 years ago

Good documentary. I'm a teacher, and it will be very helpful to present some of the more complex economic controls on the environment in a more easily understood format. The lack of flash is helpful -- you listen to the words, not watch the screen. It also makes the consumer (okay, me, the teacher) feel uncomfortable about how I impact the environment. I thought I was greener than most, but I'm just fooling myself, because, as the video shows, there are impacts all along the line. Twenty-one minutes well spent.

14 years ago

sigh... and yet we are paying the government to allow the corporations to do all this.

14 years ago

I love the way this video brings the BS surrounding the recycling industry into sharper focus.