Environmental activist Annie Leonard comesWednesday, May 09, 2012 By Adrianna Owens
Earth Week may have come and gone, but speaker Annie Leonard feels that people shouldn’t disregard their recycling bins and compost heaps. Leonard presented at the University of the Pacific on April 21 after a "green" fashion show in which models were draped in shredded newspaper. She kicked off her presentation with a short film entitled "The Story of Stuff." The video focused on how things are made and where they go after they get thrown out. Some items, for instance, are shipped to Third World countries, while others are burned and buried, which contributes to pollution. Leonard brought up that 99 percent of the stuff that people buy gets thrown out in six months. She said that what makes it worse, is that most of the time we don’t need to throw away the items. Demonstrating how small the replacement part for a computer is with her fingers, she said, "we chuck the whole (computer) and then buy a new one." She brought up the point that a lot of people upgrade their electronics, but don’t take the time to think of where their old item will end up. She also said that people think that they will be considered cool if they are up to date on all electronics. "You’re not cool if you have the newest thing," Leonard said. "You’re cool if you have the oldest and you take care of it." Another point she made, is that the national happiness rate is slowly decreasing, while the spending rate is going up. "We have less time for things that make us happy," she said. She said that relationships cheer us up, while material things merely make us content. Leonard calls it the work-watch-spend theory. She said that people work and come home exhausted, so they turn on the TV and watch ads that make them go to the store and spend money that they don’t have. Then they have to go back to work to get more money, and the never-ending cycle continues. She has a strong opinion on the use of ads in our world today. "What’s the point of an ad other than to make us feel unhappy with what we have?" Leonard asked. Some of these ads promote unhealthy lifestyles, and lead to people putting toxins in their bodies. "We take chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and we put them in our mouths!" she said. Leonard said that in an umbilical cord of a newborn baby, there were 256 chemicals. Because of this, she believes that recycling alone isn’t going to be enough to pull together the planet. She said that the solution lies in the students of today. "When students get together, they are unstoppable," she said.