Eco-Shopping is Not the Answer

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When it comes to trashing the planet, Americans are ready
for change, and the ever-growing popularity of biking and buying organic aren’t
the only evidence. Across the political spectrum, people agree on ending
subsidies that encourage environmental degradation
. And a majority of
Americans support a shift to clean energy and more regulation over toxic
chemicals. Our economy is struggling, but many Americans believe that a better one
is possible–one that puts people and the planet first. So why isn’t it

That’s the question Annie Leonard, creator of the animated
video series The Story of Stuff,
addresses in “The Story of Change.”

Back in 2007, Leonard’s first video, “The Story of
,” connected the dots between resource extraction and sweatshops, planned
obsolescence and pollution, urban growth and the influence of corporations in
government. This unsustainable system “didn’t just happen,” Leonard told the
internet. “It was designed.”

By the tens of thousands, viewers emailed her to ask how
they could help. Leonard made more videos, demystifying topics from emissions
to the
federal budget
. Although the series has been popular, it hasn’t translated
into public demand for change.

A lack of information wasn’t the problem, Leonard realized. She
looked at the stats and found that most Americans are on-board with increased protections for people and the environment. In the “Story of Change” video, she
states that “74 percent of Americans support tougher laws on toxic chemicals,
83 percent want clean energy laws, and 85 percent think corporations should
have less influence in government.”

In an interview
with Lauren Feeney
Leonard expands on this idea. “[A]t this
point in the U.S., most environmentalists still focus on
providing more information to the public, as though one more fact sheet or pie
chart is what’s needed to inspire people to take action. I believe that what’s
really needed is to reengage our citizen muscles.”

“One of the things [Leonard] has noticed based on responses
to ‘The Story of Stuff,’ writes
Simon Butler
of Green Left, “[is]
that, as a society, ‘we are forgetting how to make change.'” In “The Story of Change,” Leonard creates an
equation for change: a clear goal, teamwork, and political action.

One group that’s on the right track? Occupy. Leonard told Butler that she finds
hope in the movement and supports it enthusiastically. “The Occupy movement is
taking back our spaces, taking back our discourses, it is striving to take back
our government and in many ways it is taking back ourselves.”

Sources: Story of Stuff,,
Green Left

See Utne Reader on “The
Story of Cap and Trade
,” “The
Story of Citizens United v. FEC
,” and “The
Story of Broke

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