Environmental activist and filmmaker Annie Leonard, director of the short film “The Story of Stuff Project,” will speak tonight before a sold-out crowd in Pollock Theater about widespread consumerism in American society and its long-term effects on the country’s ecological condition.
Leonard’s film, which has garnered over 15 million viewers since its 2007 release, uses more than a decade’s worth of research gathered from over 40 countries to highlight the unsustainable production of goods on an international scale. Leonard holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. from Cornell University and currently serves as a member of the International Forum for Globalization and the Environmental Health Fund. She is also the co-creator and coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
According to Leonard, the culture of consumerism fuels wasteful daily habits and lifestyle choices that are detrimental to the welfare of the earth and its inhabitants.
“We have more stuff but we have less time for the things that really make us happy — friends, family, leisure time,” Leonard said in the film.
Leonard’s short film goes beyond listing global environmental problems by also providing viable solutions to these issues, which is not a common feature in many green campaigns and educational efforts, according to third-year global studies major Apolline Aigueperse.
“They explain to you what is happening — what is bad and what we shouldn’t do,” Aigueperse said. “Yet there is very little about how we can repair it or how we can make it better. I think in ‘The Story of Stuff’ Annie Leonard does a good job because she explains what we have to do step-by-step to make a change.”
Aigueperse said the film also reveals Leonard’s ability to convey her message through a number of academic lenses, creating a relatable, multidisciplinary perspective.
“She has the perfect dose of scientific material, good explanation, dramatization and idealism so she really makes you feel like acting out for something,” Aigueperse said.
According to Cole Cohen, Program and Events Coordinator for the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the talk is one of the largest events in the Public Goods series and is greatly anticipated by students and community members alike.
“Though the event is free, the tickets are fully booked,” Cohen said. “We usually hold our talks in a conference room but this is one of our larger events.”
The talk is free to the public but has already sold out seats through prior reservations. The lecture is an installment of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s year-long Public Goods event series and is also sponsored by Arts & Lectures, the Film and Media Studies and Art Departments, the Carsey-Wolf Center and UCSB Reads.