I’ve had a couple of requests for help from design schools who have entered the competition to design a stuff-o-meter. (Designs of the time (Dott07) has teamed up with Design and Art Direction (D&AD) in a challenge to design students to come up with a stuff-o-meter that would lift the veil on the hidden history of the everyday products we take for granted). One unifying way to look at the issue is through the concept of embodied energy (EE). There are userful bar charts on EE at the website of CSIRO and a clearly written piece here. Check out this somewhat scolding story in Treehugger and this school syllabus on EE