The “Story of Stuff”: too Mulch Design?

25 01 2008

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Design Goes Green – The first of a series of articles by Green Printer on the cross-section between the environment, business and the creative communications industry.

Today, I caught the “story of stuff“: a 20-minute, fast-paced look at the dark underbelly of our consumption patterns. The clip exposes the links between a host of environmental and social issues while showing you the real cost of that $5 radio (metals from South Africa, 14 years olds from the Congo dropping out of school to work in factories…).

Some stark facts to drive the consumption story home:

  • Less than 4% of our natural forests still exist in the U.S.
  • 40% of our water waste in the U.S. is undrinkable
  • The U.S. makes up 5% of the world’s population yet uses over 30% of our earth’s natural resources.

On a silver-lining-behind-the-dark-clouds-note, what ultimately caught my eye was the concept of “a linear system on a finite planet concept” at the beginning of the video and how, as corporates, procurers, designers and consumers we always have a choice: we can manage, buy and design for our needs with the holistic extraction, manufacturing and distribution of “stuff” in mind.

Frankly, it does not take as much effort as it seems. Whether you are in the natural foods aisle of your local supermarket or looking for chemical-free, industrial cleaning agents, online tools like and’s procurement guide make it as easy as a click of a mouse to know the sources of our consumer goods.

Then again, good, sensible and resource-sensitive design – the kind that multi-award-winning design firms like Mulch Design offers – doesn’t hurt as a proactive measure against too much stuff in the first place.

Hearing from Chemynne Perlingieri, Creative Director slash Principal at Mulch Design about how her firm strives to work with companies, organizations, and individuals who recognize that “conservation of resources through sensible design from the start-is key to true long term stability, for ourselves, our businesses, and the seventh generation” got my mind reeling: the creative industry is an “intervention node” in that linear system of consumption “The Story of Stuff” talks about.

Translation: design professionals can choose more sustainable processes of creating your marketing collateral for you when you don’t have the time to choose which packages uses up less trees or which inks are VOC-free.

Says Chemynne, “we apply creative problem solving to whatever needs your business requires and [we apply] focused project management from sketch to completion…[O]ur objective is to educate companies, individuals, and ultimately, communities about the use of these practices for responsible, resourceful design solutions.”

We like.

For more information on Mulch Design, go to


Green Printer is an eco-friendly printing company that saves wastewater and trees on all paper materials. Everyday.



2 responses to “The “Story of Stuff”: too Mulch Design?”

25 01 2008
country mouse (21:22:53) :

30% of the energy for 5% of the population. to bring it back in scale, we would need to kill off 5/6 of out population to keep things at the same technology level or drop back to consuming about 2kwh per day per person. this means transport by foot or horse (bicycles cost too much energy to make), no medical care requiring anything more than what you can buy over the counter in CVS today. forget birth control and counting on children surviving to adulthood. in the end, 3/4 of our population would die off and the rest would be reduced to late 1800 agrarian society. The landscape would be stripped of trees and all available land would be converted to farm land. fwiw, new england has been stripped at least twice.

not fun. I hope I go in the first dieoff.

25 01 2008
Mat (22:54:45) :

I saw that Story of Stuff over the holidays and it’s fantastic. I teach web design but the overall concept and the flow are a great for introducing the concept of integrating environmental awareness into product lifecycling, so I still show it to my students. Good stuff!

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