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Environmental activist Annie Leonard to speak on The Story of Stuff

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A key part of the American dream is centered around accumulating ever more, and better, stuff. Yet, all the stuff in our lives is taking an enormous toll on the environment, public health, equity, personal happiness, and even our sense of citizenship and democracy. Environmental activist Annie Leonard exposes the hidden costs of all this "stuff" in her 20-minute film The Story of Stuff, followed by a lecture on Wednesday, January 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium.

The film, which takes viewers on a provocative and eye-opening tour of the real costs of our consumer-driven culture, from resource extraction to iPod incineration, has been viewed by more than 6 million people on Leonard's Web site, along with millions of others on YouTube.

An activist who has spent the past ten years traveling the globe fighting environmental threats, Leonard delivers a rapid-fire, often humorous, and always engaging story about all our stuff-where it comes from and where it goes when we throw it away.

Leonard examines the real costs of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal, and she isolates the moment in history where she says the trend of consumption mania began. The Story of Stuff examines how economic policies of the post-World War II era ushered in notions of "planned obsolescence" and "perceived obsolescence"-and how these notions are still driving much of the U.S. and global economies today.

Leonard's inspiration for the film began as a personal musing over the question, "Where does all the stuff we buy come from, and where does it go when we throw it out?" She traveled the world in pursuit of the answer to this seemingly innocent question, and what she found along the way were some very guilty participants and their unfortunate victims.

Before her foray into multimedia, Leonard worked for GAIA, Health Care without Harm, Essential Action, and Greenpeace International. She is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, with more than 20 years of experience investigating factories and dumps around the world. In her work investigating and promoting anti-pollution issues, she has traveled to more than 30 countries, including Haiti, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Pakistan and South Africa. In 2008, she was named one of Time Magazine's Environmental Heroes.

Leonard currently coordinates the non-profit Story of Stuff Project, based in Berkeley, and is working on additional films, organizing projects, and The Story of Stuff book to be published by Free Press of Simon and Schuster in March 2010.
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