Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Story of Stuff

 I received the link of this youtube video from my instructor of Natural Resource Economics and Environmental Protection subjects. That is a very informative and interesting video. 
 In this video Annie Leonard is talking about the Materials Economy, which consists of 5 parts: extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal. By looking more deeply to this system, we can find out that some important parts are missing: “the system in crisis”. Each step of the system relates to the cultures, economies, societies and the environment which face limitations. The most important component which is unseen in this system is people who are included in all 4 parts through the system. 
  How does this system work in reality?
 Extraction: we cut trees, mine metals, use more water, danger animals. The first limit we face here is that we overuse the resources. USA has 5% of the world’s population, but they use 30% of world’s resources, and create 30% of world’s waste. If everybody consumed in such proportions, we will need 3-5 planets, but we have only 1. The result of this limitation is the use of others' land in the same way.

 Production: Toxic products are produced with the use of energy and toxic chemicals, which are having health impacts. Food is one of the vulnerable chains of getting toxins. Babies are getting those toxics from the breast feeding, because most of women which are in need are working in the factories in the reproductive ages. As a result not only materials are flowing to the production sector but also people, who have no other alternative, move to cities for finding any kind of job, no matter how toxic it is. Those toxics leave the production either in the form of products or in the form of pollution.
 What happens with all natural resources after they become a product?
Distribution: It describes the sales of toxic products as soon as possible with low prices. The purpose of distribution is to make people to continue buying. It’s all about externalized costs: real costs of making different products are included in their prices. But in fact we see that the price doesn't show the real production cost of products.

 Consumption: This is the most primary and important part of the system. Consumption keeps the flow of resources along the system. Consumption or shopping is the only seen part of Materials Economy, the rest processes – the extraction, production and disposal- happen outside of the field of vision.
 What does happen with all those products we buy? The answer to this question is:
: The trash either goes to the land field or is burned. In both cases there is pollution of air, land, water, which results to climate change.  Burning the toxins will create new super toxins like dioxin. For not creating dioxin, we should stop burning trash, and for that one of the best ways is recycling. It decreases the number of trash, but for some reasons recycling isn't enough, because there are some garbage’s which can’t be recycled.  

 According to Annie, this problem can be solved only when people, involved in this system, join together and make this system to become new one without wasting resources and people, which is based on “sustainability, equity, no waste, renewable energy, closed loop production”.

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