The Daily Rundown | March 15, 2010
>> it sounds pretty funny. americans are getting bigger houses to keep all their stuff. the average u.s. house size has doubled in this country since the 1970s . where does the stuff come from and maybe more importantly, where does it go when we throw it out. that's what author and film maker annie leonard spent ten years to find out. the 20-minute film has become a youtube sensation. she joins us now. so i guess i want to play a clip first to kind of set the scene. it's along the lines of what we heard george carlin talking about. all the stuff we have. let's play this vicious cycle .
>> so we're in this ridiculous situation where we go to work maybe two jobs even and come home and we're exhausted and plop down on our new couch and watch tv. the commercials tell us you suck. so we go to the mall to feel better. you come home more tired and sit down and watch tv until you go to the mall again. we're on this crazy spending treadmill and we could just stop.
>> i think we can all relate to that. what got you interested in this and what did you find in your travels?
>> i got interested as a college student and walking around new york city and seeing bags of garbage lining the streets in new york. that's where i picked up my embarrassing habit of starting to look in the garbage wherever i go. what is all this stuff. it's fascinating. it's like reading a city's secret diary . you can really find out what's going on. i was so fascinated with all the stuff i took a trip to a dump. i visited the fresh kills landfill where new york city 's garbage went for years. i looked out as far as i could see and every direction was waste, shoes and appliances and furniture. i thought wait a minute, what ipd of an economy is based on this one-way flow of resources of just trashing stuff and why is no one talking about it. i spent ten years traveling around the world looking at the factors where the stuff is made and dumps where our stuff is dumped.
>> what is your motivation on this? you were talking before with all of this attention you've gotten, you want to start a movement. what is it that you want to -- what is it you're hoping to now bring? we talk about all the wastefulness.
>> right now we have problems with stuff. we use too much stuff. we use too toxic stuff and don't share it well. i want to work with industries and with the public and with government to change how we make, use and throw away stuff so that we can meet our needs without trashing the planet, without poisoning each other and sharing better.
>> some of the stuff in the book about stuff is really mind blowing. we have a graphic i think. you write 98 tons of material is feeded to make one ton of paper. 36 gallons of water to make one cup of coffee. 256 gallons of water to make one t-shirt. how do you figure? as somebody who drinks a lot of coffee, what do you mean 36 gallons of wart to make one cup of coffee.
>> that's the whole production process. the whole system, the whole life cycle of the coffee. the reason i included those, i wanted to people to think critically about where does it come from, where does it go. time we actually own and appreciate this stuff is such a narrow slice of its life. i wanted people to think about the broader impacts of our stuff.
>> have you educated your lifestyle?
>> what have you done differently and that 20 years ago?
>> something i still do that most people give up. i live with a bunch of friends and we share things. we're able to reduce our consumption so much. my friends and i have six houses in a row, we have a yard we share, one pickup truck, one barbecue. one ladder and able to live a higher quality of life without constantly buying more and more stuff.
>> community is a good thing, too. annie leonard, appreciates it.
>> thank you so much.