"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

The Life Cycle of Products

For the last several Mondays and Tuesdays, I have been exploring the growing problem of e-waste by trying to zoom out and appreciate the picture more fully in its own regard.  The question of electronic wastes fits into a broader story about how we interact with products, which in turn is really a question about economy and consumption.  In other words, we should consider the scope of electronic waste within a broader question of our rational (as in we make choices) and economic (as in we tend to exchange money for goods and services) lifestyle.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard provides a fairly decent overview of the life cycle of products.  Generally, this economic paradigm can be understood in the sense of take-make-waste; but Annie details the cycle as extraction-production-distribution-consumption-disposal which provides a better sense of how our current economic paradigm works.  One of the reasons why we care so much about waste in our increasingly environmentally-conscience society is that we have a question of whether we can take from our waste through various forms of recycling (I described the large categories of recycling a little more in detail last week).

The Story of Stuff is a rather outstanding 21 minute, 16 second overview of our consumption-based economy with some insights as to the way forward. It’s worth watching.

I also appreciate how the Story of Stuff calls attention to the problem of consumerism. We can make a conscious choice to embrace simplicity if we consider how simple living actually enriches our lives. After all, some of the best things in life are free.


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