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Tough Stuff: Annie Leonard to deliver keynote address March 8
Monday, March 07, 2011

Story of Stuff Founder Annie Leonard, named among "Five Most Important Environmental Movement Leaders," to speak Tuesday, March 8

In the movie, “Fight Club,” Brad Pitt’s character succinctly states, “The things you own end up owning you.”

Annie Leonard couldn’t agree more.

Story of Stuff Founder Annie Leonard will speak on Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m., in King Concert Hall as the keynote speaker for the campus’ 2011 Sustainability Series.

Advanced ticket purchasers, use the code word EDUCATE to get tickets for only $10! Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 (1-866-441-4928) or online at

Story of Stuff

Ms. Leonard is the founder of the Story of Stuff film series, several 20-minute videos that explain some of the world’s most significant environmental dilemmas using easy, down-to-earth language that gets the message across to people of all ages, backgrounds and education levels. She will appear at SUNY Fredonia on March 8 as the keynote speaker for the campus’ 2011 Sustainability Series.
Since her initial film’s launch in 2007 — which to date has generated more than 12 million online viewers — Leonard has leveraged it into a project ( and a 2010 book of the same title (made from 100 percent recycled and compostable materials, of course). She has become one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the topic of consumer behavior and its impact on the environment, appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, Wired and Fast Company magazines, and on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” among other major media outlets. She was named one of the “Five Most Important Environmental Movement Leaders” by the Washington Examiner in 2010.
Leonard has spent nearly two decades in her quest. She has worked with public interest groups like Greenpeace International, the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA), Health Care without Harm, and Essential Information. She has traveled to 40 countries and visited hundreds of factories where products are made, as well as the trash dumps where they are discarded. She has seen firsthand the devastating effects of consumption, and has dedicated herself to reclaiming and transforming the world’s industrial and economic systems “so they serve, rather than undermine, ecological sustainability and social equity.”
Today the Story of Stuff’s online community includes more than 150,000 activists, as well as hundreds of environmental and social justice partner organizations around the globe, all trying to spread the notion that, believe it or not, less is more. To date the Story of Stuff Project has grown to include five films which have been translated into 10 foreign languages, as well as the PBS series “Loop Scoops,” a collection of brief, humorous videos designed to help children think about these same issues.
“I am not against stuff. I’m actually for stuff,” she insisted during an interview with Stephen Colbert. Rather, she wants us to have a greater reverence and appreciation for the things we buy and own, instead of the “mindless buying and chucking all the time.”
Leonard explains that in the U.S., we spend three to four times as many hours shopping than our European counterparts. As a result, we are leading the demand that results in the destruction of natural resources and the over-supply of unnecessary consumable products — many of which are purposely designed not to last.
“As our grandparents would say, ‘They don’t make ’em like they used to,’ and that’s exactly the reason we are facing the environmental crises we see today,” said SUNY Fredonia Chemistry and Environmental Sciences Professor Sherri Mason.
A member of the campus’ Sustainability Committee and coordinator of its annual Earth Week programming, Dr. Mason led the campaign to bring Leonard to campus. The committee has led SUNY Fredonia in becoming increasingly recognized by such environmentally concerned organizations as PETA2, which has repeatedly applauded the campus for its vegetarian and vegan dining options. Just last week the e-magazine included Fredonia in its article, “34 universities that get a star for sustainability,” based on the high rating the campus received  in an analysis conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Fredonia was the only four-year SUNY school on the list.
“We are making a clear difference on our campus, and on our world,” Dr. Mason added. “While we know there is much more we can do, it is nice to receive this kind of recognition. The fact that Annie Leonard would agree to appear at SUNY Fredonia before any other university in New York State further suggests that we are becoming well known and respected in sustainable community circles.”
Leonard’s appearance, which takes place Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m., in King Concert Hall, has been made possible by SUNY Fredonia’s Sustainability Committee, its FACE (Fredonia Academic Community Engagement) Center, and with support from the Convocation Committee. Tickets are $5 for students (with valid I.D.) and $15 for the general public. Advanced ticket purchasers, use the code word EDUCATE to get tickets for only $10! Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 (1-866-441-4928) or online at


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