'Stuff' is bad, kids learn

An environmental activist’s 20-minute video, The Story of Stuff, has become a classroom hit, reports the New York Times. Annie Leonard’s message is simple: Consumption leads to pollution.

The thick-lined drawings of the Earth, a factory and a house, meant to convey the cycle of human consumption, are straightforward and child-friendly. So are the pictures of dark puffs of factory smoke and an outlined skull and crossbones, representing polluting chemicals floating in the air.

. . . “We’ll start with extraction, which is a fancy word for natural resource exploitation, which is a fancy word for trashing the planet,” she says at one point. “What this looks like is we chop down the trees, we blow up mountains to get the metals inside, we use up all the water and we wipe out the animals.”

In Stuff or Nonsense? (great headline), Core Knowledge’s Robert Pondiscio notes that not everyone is a fan.  Heritage’s Foundry blog calls the video anti-capitalist propaganda designed to make kids ashamed to be Americans and guilty about buying a toy at Radio Shack.

Update:  If you’re worried about environmentalists turning your kid into a nattering eco-nag, Playborhood’s Mike Lanza cites a Cornell study finding environmental education doesn’t change behaviors or attitudes.

On the other hand, the researchers found that actual time spent in “wild” (i.e. non-domesticated) nature does result in significantly increased environmental behaviors and attitudes.

You’ve got to walk the walk — in the woods.

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  1. Steven O'Toole says:

    That’s funny. I told my kid that the way to be a capitalist is to skip the toy, save your money, invest it in something that people really need, and get a good return. How did capitalism ever get equated with accumulating a lot of useless colorful plastic junk?

  2. Gosh, kids! We should all live in caves and die of disease, starvation or exposure before the age of 40! Won’t that be great?!

    You first!

  3. The same “progressives” who perpetrate this kind of thing are probably the same ones who complain about the decline in “good manufacturing jobs for the middle classs”, never thinking that there might perhaps be a connection.

  4. tim-10-ber says:

    Still…consumerism as it has been known is probably gone for a generation or two. Welcome to the new reality…living below your income, no more debt and “the Jonese” who or what are they? Now to see how the country, states counties, cities, etc. adjust to the new reality….

  5. Heritage…”anti-capitalist propaganda”

    In truth, this is not only anti-capitalist. A Soviet-era factory manager or economic planner would have been just as appalled at this as a 2009 American factory manager or a 1940 New Deal TVA official. So would a medieval peasant desperately searching for firewood to keep his family from freezing, or a medieval monk clearing land and building waterwheels in the intervals between his prayers.

    Call it what it is: anti-civilization.

  6. It’s sad that children in the West are being openly told to hate Western civilization. And what alternatives do the people who make videos like these propose? They never offer *their* solutions… They just like to state what *they* view as the problem.

    Using technology created by the Western civilization they so loathe. Ironic!

    If they were to actually break down and tell us the whole truth of their beliefs, I wonder what proposals they would demand, what changes they demand be made to our daily lives? And would these proposals apply to them, too?

  7. McSwain says:

    My thought was, “It couldn’t be THAT bad.”

    And then I watched it. Wow.