Monday, August 8, 2011

The Story of Stuff: A Big Dreamer

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change

The audacity of hope – is my summary of The Story of Stuff. One, it is audacious because the world the author is aiming at is truly a brave new world, with quite a dash of transformation to the way we live. Two, it is about hope, because the world is a better world (I am not countering Heidegger or Lao-Tse in this argument). And three, it is the audacity of hope, because of the miraculous but realistic chance of attaining the goal.

In so many cases we meet the dilemma of having come too far to go back. But the moment of change is instantaneous. It takes only a blink to make your mind. Yet again, we always have an endless cache of excuses to put forward. What about the side effects, known and unknown? Will others participate? (Think about the Kyoto Protocol.) What about all the administrative expenses? Will there be a consensus? (Most probably, not.)

In the era of the discovery of new worlds, there was an epidemic of dreaming of perfect world. Some romantic poets – notably Shelley, Wordsworth, and Coleridge – planned to build a perfect society of their own in the new world of America. The world was to be a perfect one, full of peace and love. But people in the world had to share values. So they formed the group with friends. But alas, we know the well-known furious dispute between Wordsworth and Coleridge. Even friends differ in opinions here and there. (You want to hear about the outcome? Of course they did not make it.)

However, gradual changes are always possible, and very doable. For example, going veggie overnight looks almost impossible for most of us. But most of us can, very easily, decide to go meatless one day per week. ( Most probably you will not be able to reduce your water use to the level of the people in India. But you can put a 2-liter bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to save tons of water per month right away. In this book, you can find hundreds of little things you can do to reduce waste.

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