The Story of Stuff: We have a problem with stuff. We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division.
The Story of Stuff Project’s journey began with a 20-minute online movie about the way we make, use and throw away all the stuff in our lives.
LIVING WALLS: school project
If it’s on the store shelf, it’s been tested and found safe, right? Guess again. Bev Thorpe of Clean Production Action talks about the hidden chemical dangers in everyday products and how ‘green chemistry’—designing materials and products without harmful chemicals—promises to transform the relationship between us and our Stuff.
#3 READ & DISCUSS
To debate: Whilst products carrying the official marks of reputable organisations like Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance go a long way to help consumers make ethical choices, the inability of producers from developing countries to meet high certification fees, often exclude them from the ‘ethical market’ in the developed world. One solution might be smaller is better: Rather buy your food directly from small-scale farmers – skipping a few of the middle men – and give yourself the advantage of knowing exactly where your food comes from. In the case of a product like coffee beans, seek out small companies with a passion for building a mutually beneficial relationship between producer and distributor… And finally, consumer. This is also known as direct trade. (For example, Bean There Coffee Company in South Africa and Ethical Addictions in the UK.)
Further reading: A great book to pick up is Unfair Trade by Conor Woodman – informative and very entertaining… He is quite the fearless adventurer.
Here is an interesting article by The Guardian (UK): Food labelling confuses ethical shoppers, says survey.
In a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), entitled A review of ethical standards and labels: Is there a gap in the market for a new ‘Good for Development’ label?, the issue is further unpacked. Download the full report in PDF format here.
Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church (a church that identifies best with the Anabaptist movement) in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA often talks about materialism in his sermons. We’d like to point you to one entitled Exorcism, which is available for free download:
One of the main spiritual strongholds that we deal with is “mine-ing” stuff. We want to acquire stuff, label it as ours and create divisions in our souls that separate us from God. God wants us to heal these divisions by renouncing the false god, Mammon.
The church also did a series called Kingdom Economics and recorded this panel discussion:
During the series, many people have sent in questions about their personal finances. Today we heard from a panel of people from Woodland Hills who responded to those questions with Kingdom of God principles.
I’m in a small group that’s been together for a while, and we want to take additional steps to live our lives in a more connected way. Can you offer us some ideas?
Some small groups pool their resources and even help each other get out of debt! In Acts 2 we see that the early Christian communities shared all things in common. There’s no reason we cannot move in that direction today too. We can share things like money, housing, snow-blowers, lawnmowers, vehicles, and so forth. These things strengthen our communities as well as reduce the amount of “stuff” we all have to take care of.