Watch The Final Video That Shows How To Solve The Problems From The Story Of Stuff

Annie Leonard’s seminal online video about consumption was a viral hit, spawning a series of videos. This is the final piece in that series, which shows how to do something about all the useless stuff we’re making.

It has been six years since Annie Leonard released her incredibly popular Story of Stuff video, an engrossing 20-minute animated explainer featuring Leonard that rationally details the problems with the way we produce and consume goods. Since then, Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project has produced eight more short films that do deeper dives into specific topics, like the electronics supply chain, toxic cosmetics, and corporate influence.


Today, Leonard released the ninth and final film in the series: The Story of Solutions. The film, which clocks in at under nine minutes, looks at the differences between what Leonard calls “old game solutions” to our societal ills (like the “more is better” economy) and game-changing solutions.

She cites two solutions to the overuse of plastic packaging as examples. The old game solutions, in this case, are initiatives that give people gift cards to buy things if they recycle plastic bags (this is akin to what RecycleBank does). These initiatives simply perpetuate the “more is better” economy.

The new game solutions, according to Leonard, are campaigns to ban plastic bags. “By volunteering their time, these citizens are declaring that there’s something more important to them than just earning and spending more,” she explains in the video. “To win this campaign, these citizens are going to have to team up with forward-thinking businesses offering alternatives to throwaway plastic packaging.”

While this is the final video in the series, it’s not the last we’ll hear from the Story of Stuff Project, which has a 450,000-plus member community that engages around issues addressed in the series. Michael O’Heaney, co-director at the Story of Stuff Project, says in an email that the organization plans to launch a short video series this fall called “Ask Annie,” in which Annie Leonard addresses questions from the community. He also highlights the group’s podcast series and its shorter, “campaign-aligned” videos, like this one created to support bans of bottled water sales in national parks:

O’Heaney says that Story of Stuff will launch a series of crowdsourced campaigns this fall, as well as an online bootcamp for aspiring campaign leaders. The Story of Stuff Project is not even close to being over.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.