The story behind the story of stuff

The Story of Stuff is also a story about activism success.

When Annie Leonard created the viral video three years ago, she was scratching an itch. It bothered her how much stuff she and everyone around her owned.

But rather than signing a petition or protesting, she literally went to the drawing board. Leonard used stick figures and simple drawings to make a potent political point—that our consumption habits are hurting the world—in an unassuming way.

“To have this woman who basically looks like your next-door neighbor or third-grade teacher standing in front of these very simple stick-figure images makes it a lot easier to process this information because it’s not this horrifying glimpse into the actual impacts of what our relationship with stuff does to people on the planet,” Allison Cook said.

The project was tremendously successful, and today Cook is one of five paid staff members of the Story of Stuff. They released their fifth film this month. After tackling cap and trade, cosmetics, and bottled water in depth, the group has taken on America’s affinity for gadgets in the Story of Electronics.

Cook tells Congress.org why animated film has worked for them and how others can use it.

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