Animated about waste

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2010, 12:00am

If you want to see how marketing has turned a freely available commodity - tap water - into a source of profit and pollution, watch The Story of Bottled Water, an animated Web video made by Annie Leonard.

A 45-year-old activist from Berkeley, California, Leonard is known for making videos that attack consumerism, toxic ingredients and heedless waste disposal. Her earlier 20-minute creation, The Story of Stuff, which exposed humanity's wasteful ways has been translated into more than 15 languages and published on recycled paper with soy ink.

'We environmentalists are a whiny, wonky bunch,' says Leonard. 'We bombard people with facts. But who wants to join a movement where people just scold you? We have to make it inspiring. We have to make it fun.'

What began as a one-off video, financed by several environmental foundations has given rise to the Story of Stuff project, a non-profit organisation with a budget of US$950,000 and a staff of four in an attic of a century-old carriage house in Berkeley.

Leonard majored in environmental studies at university and has since devoted herself to green causes, working with Greenpeace International and other groups.

She also launched The Story of Cap and Trade about her take on how carbon trading undermines efforts to curb global warning; and The Story of Cosmetics about toxicity in personal care products.

This autumn, her millions of Web fans and more than 70,000 Facebook friends will see The Story of Electronics on pollutants in computers and mobile phones.

'I'm excited about the potential of the economic downturn to get us to think a little more critically,' she says. 'When there are fewer dollars to spend, we've got to think: Is it really worth that extra job to get this new car? Or that 15th pair of shoes?'

Watch The Story of Bottled Water on YouTube: com/watch?v=Se12y9hSOM0