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You’re reading MakeUseOf, so you’re probably a bit computer-inclined. Chances are you own more than one, and all the extras too – so, where does this stuff come from? That’s a question with more than one answer – the simplified version, and the “spent my whole life researching it” extended version.

The Story of Stuff is a 2007 short film about the material economy. It’s a politically-charged challenging look at the state of consumerism 6 Websites That Can Help You Become An Educated, Ethical, & Safe Shopper 6 Websites That Can Help You Become An Educated, Ethical, & Safe Shopper In the 21st century and beyond, sustainable living is more than just a buzzword. It is becoming a way of life. But sustainable living and consumerism hardly go hand in hand. If awareness is the... Read More , prompting critics like Glen Beck, formerly of Fox News, to refer to it as an “anti-capitalist tale that unfortunately has virtually no facts correct.”

That means it has to be good, right?

The Story of Stuff

The original film has attracted widespread praise and some serious criticism, which makes it a great point for debate 8 Free Thought-Provoking Documentaries To Watch On YouTube [Stuff to Watch] 8 Free Thought-Provoking Documentaries To Watch On YouTube [Stuff to Watch] You've no doubt watched a movie or two on YouTube by now. Whether it was uploaded by the original studio or a miscreant sharing someone else's hard work; the streaming video behemoth is full of... Read More . There’s no denying much of what the video says above is true – that a western lifestyle of consumerism is devouring resources, clouding government and not necessarily benefiting the everyman.

Then again, there has been a lot of knee-jerk defensive action from critics, citing an environmental agenda (which the film makes no attempt of hiding) and, unsurprisingly, attacks from free-marketeers. The film itself was shown in elementary schools, arts programs and economic classes, so if your children have seen it so should you.

The Story of Bottled Water

According to some, there’s no greater evil in the world than bottled water. A resource we all need to live, bottled water is a million-dollar industry with bottled water costing roughly 2000 times the cost of tap water.

It’s definitely a convenience to be able to buy bottled water while out and about, in fact I did this out of necessity just yesterday. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a wasteful process though, and something’s wrong when you’ve got the vice chairman of Pepsi saying “the biggest enemy is tap water” in a bid to get us to open our wallets.

The Story of Cosmetics

Ever wondered what’s in all that stuff you put on your face, hair and skin? The cosmetic industry is arguably one of the most unnecessary of the many fuelled by our buying habits, yet most people spend thousands per year on looking and smelling great – but at what cost?

You should already be aware that your average shampoo contains a cocktail of hard-to-pronounce chemicals, many of which haven’t been tested, others which are linked to diseases you really don’t want. The Story of Cosmetics takes a look at the ingredients, process and marketing behind cosmetic products.

The Story of Electronics

Considering you’re reading an article on a tech blog, there’s a chance you know a thing or two about electronics – but do you know much about where they come from? Why is it cheaper to often replace a failing appliance outright, rather than have it repaired? And where does it all end up Disposing Of An Old Laptop - What To Recycle, What To Keep Disposing Of An Old Laptop - What To Recycle, What To Keep Laptops are a treasure trove of parts that can live more than one life. Whether they continue a life as spare part or become the subject of a DIY tech project, you can get a... Read More ?

The Story of Electronics sheds some light on the concept of “designed for the dump” and the new coming of take back laws, that put manufacturers in a greater position of responsibility for the products they produce.

The Story of Solutions

A country’s gross domestic product is a hallowed number designed to demonstrate the might of the economy, but does a better economy really mean a better life? Or a better future? Is money and the overall number spent indicative of a quality of life?

Another video that (unsurprisingly) is bound to divide opinion, The Story of Solutions supposes that we’re spending too long tackling issues that don’t matter a whole deal while more important issues slip by the wayside.

The Rest

Whether you loved every word of these unashamedly pro-environmental videos or decided they were misleading and a bit too idealistic for your tastes, you can head over to The Story of Stuff’s website to watch a few more and stay up to date with the latest films.

Do you think these videos are good for a school audience? Discuss, below!

  1. palu
    November 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    love the authors consumerist tshirt ;-) how fitting (in the pic at the top of the article)

  2. Martijn
    November 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Now *that's* a real comment ;-). And yes, I do believe that the global climate change is in large part a hoax. But that doesn't mean that the underlying principle that is explained in the animations are as well. The main message is not that the global climate change is true, the message is that you cannot sustain a model where resources are limited, while people act like they are limitless. Without any scientific study it is easy for any adult, and especially children, to understand that an infinite system of 'more, more, more' is not sustainable on a planet with finite resources. I believe that this principle is true.

    It's just like in the 60's, when 'credible' doctors in white coats told us that smoking was good for us. There was no scientific evidence that this was false, but anybody who smokes for the first times can expect that the coughing is not a good sign... This is the same, the way we are treating our environment currently is not sustainable in the long run.

    By the way, don't get me starting on people who are fudging data... ;-)

  3. Martijn
    November 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Let me explain what the effect is on me personally. If people put a lot of effort into research and making an animation, it is very easy to type a short comment with the question about credibility. This makes me uncomfortable, as I have experienced more than once that a lot of effort from me is easily swooped aside by someone who has a comment, without putting in any real effort.

    So do you *need* to present an argument in order to question something? No, thankfully not, that's what freedom of speech is for. You and me are both entitled to any opinion. But would I appreciate somebody putting in a little effort into giving comment on something? Yes, I definitely would. It would mean that the comment would have value for me.

    And since freedom of speech also applies to me, that's what I'm saying here.

    • Robert T
      November 13, 2013 at 2:58 am

      So as long as somebody makes an animation we should not question it

    • jkendal
      November 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      Actually, Martijn, I've put a lot of effort, unbeknownst to you, into researching the human caused global climate change hoax and I've come to the conclusion that, yes, it is a hoax. In fact, it's one of the biggest hoaxes ever to be perpetrated against the human race. The emails out of East Anglia alone prove it (forget the thousands of hours of research conducted by hundreds of real climate scientists). The effect on me personally is that some people STILL refuse to believe the truth that's been exposed, usually because of a personal agenda or maybe it cuts right to their entire world view, and it's much easier for them to label me and others who have taken the time and effort to research these things as 'deniers'. And that truth is: the people at the top of the human-caused-global-warming pyramid (Edward Acton, Phil Jones, etc.) fudged the data to fit their computer models and they did it to affect political change, destroying people's livelihoods in the process. So, hopefully, you can understand why I don't really care how much effort these people have put into their videos in order to continue to perpetuate a lie that's been exposed as such.

  4. Martijn
    November 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

    What a strange remark to make, Joel L, especially while failing to present arguments.

    • jkendal`
      November 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      All that Joel said was there is a question in his mind whether or not the people making the videos are credible or not. I have the same question in my mind, especially after watching "The Story of Solutions". Do I need to present an argument in order to question something? The video certainly doesn't.....

  5. Mark
    November 12, 2013 at 5:52 am

    I've only watched "The Story of Electronics" so far, but I'll be watching the others right away. I find it incredibly well presented. No shrill caw of hysteria, just the process laid out in an easy-to-follow way. An ugly process it is, too. I think most of us have always suspected as much, but it's easy (and convenient) to forget about that nastiness as long as there's no one around to remind us. Here, as it turns out, is our reminder.

  6. Joel L
    November 12, 2013 at 12:04 am

    This is a great concept and I always love a good documentary/lecture when it's presented in a smart way, but the question always in the back of my mind is whether or not the people behind the video(s) are credible.

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