(Posted January 18, 2010)

If you're curious about what happens to all the crumpled-up packaging, discarded appliances and thrown-out toys, tools and T-shirts people toss every day, listen to environmental activist Annie Leonard talk about "The Story of Stuff," at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

"The Story of Stuff" follows the path of consumer products starting with the mining of natural resources and ending with the incineration of an iPod. During the course of the film, the real costs of a throw-away society are revealed. From the tossed-aside personal computer that still works to the changing fashions in shoes, the film demonstrates how products are designed to be regularly replaced or upgraded, whether they need to be or not.

Leonard will make a humorous, yet eye-opening talk about "all our stuff -- where it come from and where it goes when we throw it away" before introducing an acclaimed 20-minute film that depicts the real costs of our consumer-driven culture. The film is quirkily animated and Leonard appears in the movie as narrator.

Leonard starts her talk with an explanation of how the post-World War II economic boom began an era of "planned obsolescence" and "perceived obsolescence" -- which explained simply, is designing products using a series of slight design improvements or added features, making the perfectly fine existing product seem obsolete.

"Ann Leonard's film 'The Story of Stuff' is a model of clarity and motivation," says consumer activist and periodic political candidate Ralph Nader on the www.storyofstuff.com Web site.

Leonard started the film on the Internet, launching the film in December 2007. To date, it has generated more than 6.5 million views in more than 200 countries around the world. A companion book to the film, also called "The Story of Stuff," is due out March 2010.

Leonard currently works as the director of The Story of Stuff Project, and has pursued a long career in sustainability and environmental activism. Previously, she worked as a coordinator for the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption. In addition, Leonard has worked with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Essential Action and Greenpeace International.

She earned a bachelor's degree from Barnard College/Columbia University and completed graduate courses in city and regional planning at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.