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'Story of Stuff' creator speaking in Buffalo tonight


Environmental activist Annie Leonard, who created the popular animated documentary "The Story of Stuff," brings her message of sustainability to Buffalo Tuesday night.  A guest of UB's Undergrad Academy on Sustainability, Leonard presents a free public lecture at 7 p.m. at the Drama Theater in UB's Center for the Arts.

After producing a 20-minute video called "The Story of Stuff," Annie Leonard found herself attuned to a movement. She possessed modest hopes when she produced the video examining the complexities of the worldwide supply chain. That has changed now that the video has been viewed 30 million times.

"I think it touched a knowledge we all have deep down inside. Whether we're worried about losing our house or we're worried the toy we just bought our kid has lead in it," said Leonard in an interview with WBFO News.

"There are all these different ways that we increasingly know that something's not quite right."

Within a year of releasing the video, Leonard says she received 250,000 e-mails. She grew to understand that people everywhere were seeing the same stressed-out natural world that she saw.

"The ecosystems are showing exceptional duress. This is what really worries me. Even if one liked this toxic-laden, corporate-dominated, growth-obesessed way of organizing a society, even if one made the case that there is something valued about that, it's physically impossible to continue because of the stress on the ecosystem," Leonard said.

"If you look at the scientific reports these days, it is really daunting. Everything from the coral reefs to bumble bees to marine ecosystems, everything, all of the scientists are saying that ecosystems are being pushed to their limit."

According to Leonard, her video has been translated into 30 languages and has been getting great response from faith-based communities. The message of "The Story of Stuff" appears to be moving beyond the typical political divide.

"My favorite e-mail was from a woman who wrote in and said she was a Republican, SUV-driving housewife in Texas. She said she wouldn't have even watched your video if I knew what it was about. And now I can't look at anything the same."

Tuesday evenings speech is entitled "Moving Towards Zero Waste and the Story of Solutions."

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.