The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff

How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health--and A Vision for Change

Book - 2010
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We have a problem with Stuff. With just 5 percent of the world's population, we're consuming 30 percent of the world's resources and creating 30 percent of the world's waste. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets! This alarming fact drove Annie Leonard to create the Internet film sensation The Story of Stuff, which has been viewed over 10 million times by people around the world. In her sweeping, groundbreaking book of the same name, Leonard tracks the life of the Stuff we use every day--where our cotton T-shirts, laptop computers, and aluminum cans come from, how they are produced, distributed, and consumed, and where they go when we throw them out. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, The Story of Stuff is a landmark book that will change the way people think--and the way they live.Leonard's message is startlingly clear: we have too much Stuff, and too much of it is toxic. Outlining the five stages of our consumption-driven economy--from extraction through production, distribution, consumption, and disposal--she vividly illuminates its frightening repercussions. Visiting garbage dumps and factories around the world, Leonard reveals the true story behind our possessions--why it's cheaper to replace a broken TV than to fix it; how the promotion of "perceived obsolescence" encourages us to toss out everything from shoes to cell phones while they're still in perfect shape; and how factory workers in Haiti, mine workers in Congo, and everyone who lives and works within this system pay for our cheap goods with their health, safety, and quality of life. Meanwhile we, as consumers, are compromising our health and well-being, whether it's through neurotoxins in our pillows or lead leaching into our kids' food from their lunchboxes--and all this Stuff isn't even making us happier! We work hard so we can buy Stuff that we quickly throw out, and then we want new Stuff so we work harder and have no time to enjoy all our Stuff. ... With staggering revelations about the economy, the environment, and cultures around the world, alongside stories from her own life and work, Leonard demonstrates that the drive for a "growth at all costs" economy fuels a cycle of production, consumption, and disposal that is killing us. It is a system in crisis, but Annie Leonard shows us that this is not the way things have to be. It's within our power to stop the environmental damage, social injustice, and health hazards caused by polluting production and excessive consumption, and Leonard shows us how. Expansive, galvanizing, and sobering yet optimistic, The Story of Stuff transforms how we think about our lives and our relationship to the planet.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2010
Edition: First Free Press hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781439125663
Branch Call Number: 306.4 Le
Description: xxxiv, 317 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Conrad, Ariane


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It’s amazing how shiny new possessions you bring home from the store eventually become trash – at least in North America. I admire Annie Leonard’s engaging take on how this happens, and how we could – and must – improve the situation. The huge amount of waste she describes is scary and clearly unsustainable, but she keeps the tone light and constructive. You may have heard of Leonard through her web videos. She also hosts a website and blog. One of her most telling points in the book is that beyond basic needs, owning more stuff does not make you happier. Europeans are more satisfied with life than Americans, though they have smaller homes and cars, and use less energy. Keep telling it like it is, Annie! (submitted by DC)

Dec 30, 2015

I you really want to SAVE the planet, everyone must read this Book to find another way of doing things. This is a very nice and an important Book; "The Stoty Of Stuff"

Mar 26, 2014

Perhaps the smartest local Seattle has ever produced, she writes a super-informative book of the most important kind, yet I fear even her actions and activities are too late to save humanity, especially the sociopathic sort found in the US of A! (The super-rich know no morality when it comes to achieving their ends, whether sponsoring NCIS propaganda shows (Lockheed Martin) or Boeing's subsidiares, Narus and Jeppeson Data Plan, or the vile Consumers Financial Protection Bureau, the phony shill outfit from the Obama administration (which Sen. Elizabeth Warren wasted her valuable, and still naive, time on, but now realizes she was duped when they placed it under the Federal Reserve, which protects the banks) whose two major achievements have been providing a legal shield or immunity for the banks who filed all those felonious false affidavits for mortgage fraudclosure, and the recent announcement for the federal government (i.e., the taxpayers and tax base) be responsible for mortgage backed securities - - haven't we already by through this?

BlueDinoBitU Feb 22, 2013

i found annie is SUPER smart ii started to look for the thing she talked about like toxics in cosmetics and i found out even BURTS BEES had lead in it! BURTS BEES????!!!!!

Aug 22, 2012

Annie Leonard delivers a lot of information in a very easy manner. I've always had a hard time getting my head around all the junk around us -- so much of our "goods" are toxic and unnecessary -- and this book made me feel like I'm not crazy.

gareichler Oct 15, 2011

This is a great book! I watched the movie in August 2010 and reserved the book shortly after it came out. Both have changed me a lot.

Oct 10, 2011

I had been sent the original video and superficially watched it understanding that it explained that most western people wasted an awfjul lot of "stuff". I read the book in more depth and appreciate that the forces of corporations are overwhelming. They have co-opted part of the green story with less than green results. One example is re-cycling which is really one of the least important. We make products for temporary use and then discard. We need to re-use more products and better yet design them for much longer use. This goes against the economic dictate that we must always grow. Although we have not reached nature's limits we have stepped over a line that will be hard to reverse. A lot of food for thought.

debwalker Dec 15, 2010

"The message that society must end the glorification of consumerism and growth for its own sake is increasingly prevalent. Unfortunately much of it is received as nothing but liberal fearmongering. Leonard mixes her facts with first-hand accounts and line-drawn illustrations to deliver her message in a friendly and enlightening way, without finger-pointing at the reader."
Top 10 Books of 2010: Amber Elbon, newsletter/web producer


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BlueDinoBitU Feb 22, 2013

BlueDinoBitU thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

gareichler Jul 22, 2011

gareichler thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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gareichler Oct 15, 2011

Annie Leonard shows us the problems with our consumerist society, with a chapter for each step in the materials economy: extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. In the epilogue, she explains how we can change this. She includes small boxes of information and many short stories throughout the book.


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