The Story of Broke

The Story of Broke is the new, short film from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project. The Story of Stuff looked at the production and disposal of the stuff in our lives and the happiness it doesn’t bring us. The new movie is meant to stimulate thinking about how to pay for economic changes that support greater happiness through education, healthcare, and renewable energy and less propping up of the stuff economy.

Critiques of the movie are saying that it is simplistic, but I think it is just simple. It is meant to be an introduction that stimulates a new way of thinking. It isn’t a new way of thinking to everyone, but it is not the mainstream way of thinking, and her films are all meant just to start the broader thinking about possibilities. A lot of the stuff of our lives is so familiar that we don’t think about why we use it, how it got here, and where it goes when we are done. A 20-minute cartoon about trash might just give us a little ah-ha moment that encourages us to dig deeper. This new 8-minute movie is just an eco baby step on our way to thinking differently.

One of my favorite things about the movies from The Story of Stuff Project are the resources behind each film. Not only do they provide an annotated script for each film, they have curriculum resources for every age. If you have very young children, you might enjoy watching Loop Scoops videos with them. These are very short videos made in conjunction with PBS Kids to explore simple, age-appropriate aspects of stuff like juice boxes, Velcro, magazines, and happiness.

Annie Leonard and her project are U.S.-based, but the general pattern of how to shift to renewable energy and economies that prioritize—or even just recognize—happiness as a desired goal apply to every one of us.