Yoga Journal Blog: Green Life



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The Story of Stuff

10_28_greenlife.jpgDon't you love it when a yoga instructor can take a really challenging pose and break it down for you in an accessible way (not unlike my esteemed, fellow blogger, Kathryn Budig)? Often when we face something complicated, it can be difficult to fully grasp. But when someone comes along and breaks it down into pieces that makes sense, all of a sudden the understanding is there and new insight is gained.

Last week I posted about a group of yogis who are trying to bring attention to the issues of consumerism and commoditization of yoga. It's an important topic for any of us to be thinking about, regardless of how it infiltrates the yoga community specifically. If we are really seeking to be fully awake, to participate with full attention in this world, it is crucial that we become educated about the stuff we fill our lives with. This is actually an incredibly complex topic, if you trace it all from supply to production to shipping--there's a lot to learn about how things are made, the systems in place to keep it all going, and the pockets greased along the way. It can be an almost overwhelming subject to delve into.

Hence my great love for Annie Leonard and "The Story of Stuff." "The Story of Stuff" is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled video about the underside of our production and consumption patterns, and was created by Annie Leonard and Free Range Graphics in December 2007.  Annie has spent nearly two decades investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues. She has traveled to 40 countries, visiting literally hundreds of factories where our stuff is made and dumps where our stuff is dumped, witnessing first hand the horrendous impacts of both over- and under-consumption around the world, Annie is an advocate of  reclaiming and transforming our industrial and economic systems so they serve, rather than undermine, ecological sustainability and social equity.

The best part is that Annie breaks down this intricate topic into a animated film that says it all clearly. Now, it's likely you may have seen "The Story of Stuff," as it's had over 12 million views since its release, and has been shown in thousands of schools, houses of worship, community events, and businesses around the world. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend taking 20 minutes to watch--and maybe take one more minute to share it with a few folks who might benefit from it.

The "Story of Stuff" has now evolved into The Story of Stuff Project, and several other films have been made, including "The Story of Cosmetics" (divulging the ugly truth of toxins in these products), "The Story of Bottled Water" (how "manufactured demand" pushes what we don't need), "The Story of Cap & Trade" (why you can't solve a problem with the thinking that created it), and coming soon: "The Story of Electronics."

It's important that we take the time to think about the "stuff" we use in our everyday lives, in order to make mindful choices that are good for us and for the planet. So it's great when someone like Annie Leonard comes along and give us the information in a manner that is just as consumable as the stuff she educates us about. Perhaps then we can share it with others.

Stephanie Bernstein is the Founder and CEO of To-Go Ware. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for 12 years and currently resides in Oakland, California.

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