That Light Bulb Moment: The Story of Stuff

I get asked it a lot. What sparked my low-waste lifestyle?

The answer: The Story of Stuff

I had already started exploring the environmental impacts of animal agriculture back in 2014 when this YouTube video popped up on my news feed:

Watch it! Once my mind switched on to the life cycle of a product, it changed my consumption habits for good.

I could no longer purchase anything without reflecting on its life prior to being displayed on that shop’s shelf. It shocked me to think that I had never really considered this before. But the life cycle of a product is rarely transparent and as I continue to learn more, you soon see why it’s not – most companies don’t want you to know or even think about their product’s backstory, because in most cases that would be extremely bad for business.

Now, I turn products over and if I see the barcode with the (almost inevitable) phrase “Made in <insert Asian nation>” – I put it back. Not because I’m anti-Asia (hell, no!), but I am pro-Planet Earth. For me, that short phrase hidden at the bottom of said item translates to “something that had to be freighted thousands of miles for me to purchase, consume and then (nine times out of ten) send to landfill.” Unsurprisingly, it’s not at the top of my shopping list.

This is all before we even start to factor in the multitude of other sins committed to get it there. If you’re interested in finding out more of what they are, there’s a whole book that expands on the YouTube video above: The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard. I highly recommend it.

Last weekend I was in Kmart and saw a sandwich toaster for $7.50! Have you ever stopped to think how that’s even possible? Someone or something is getting ripped off along the way if we can buy an item like that for such a meagre amount. The victim (or one of them) is without question the environment.

But before you get too bummed out by this: there’s a solution! An amazing concept – the Circular Economy. I’ll be sure to write a full post about this later on, but in a nutshell it’s about creating an economy that mimics a natural ecosystem – where there is no such thing as waste. Each resource can be used over and over again. It is often referred to as a cradle-to-cradle economy and is actually the ‘original’ economical model, if you will. It’s how Mother Nature wants us to interact with our environment. Find out a little more by checking out this YouTube video.

If you loved the Story of Stuff YouTube above, make sure to check out their other stories. My other favourites are the stories of bottled water, microfibres, electronics and cosmetics.


What was your light bulb moment? I love hearing about each person’s eco-journey so please share your story below.

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