Annie Leonard, creator of the award-winning online video The Story of Stuff, hears the question every day: “I’m only one person – what can I do to change things?”
Faced with daunting environmental and social problems, many people think the best they can do to influence change is to buy green or fair-trade products. But in her new video, The Story of Change, Leonard says conscious consumerism is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop.
“If we really want to create a more sustainable and just future,” says Leonard, “we have to move beyond voting with our dollars and come together as citizens to demand rules that work. It’s time to put down the credit cards and pick up a picket sign.”
The Story of Change has been released now on storyofchange.org. Her previous seven movies have been viewed a total of more than 20 million times since 2007. Leonard was inspired to make the film by thousands of interactions with audience members, who frequently ask what they can do to change the take-make-waste system that’s threatening the planet and its people.
“When I asked what they thought they could do, far too often I was met with individualistic, consumer-centric ideas,” she says. “I can buy organic. I can take a reusable bag to the store. I can ride my bike. Those are good things to do, but they ignore the real source of our power: coming together as engaged citizens.”
The 6-minute film includes an inspiring exploration of what effective changemaking has looked like through history – from Gandhi to the Civil Rights Movement to the victories of the early environmental movement. It spotlights the elements found whenever and wherever people unite to make change. A Big Idea, a commitment to working together, and the ability to turn that idea and commitment into action.
At the companion website, storyofchange.org, viewers can take an interactive quiz to help them identify their changemaker persona – and chart a path for their own citizen engagement.
When Annie Leonard and her friends at Free Range Studios set out in 2007 to share what she’d learned about the way we make, use and throw away Stuff, they thought 50,000 views would be a good result for her ‘20-minute cartoon about trash.’ Today, with over 15 million views and counting, The Story of Stuff is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time.