The Story of Stuff
How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change
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.
Author Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff
Read an Excerpt
In order to make all the Stuff in our lives, we first need to get the ingredients. Now, some of these don’t occur naturally—the man-made synthetic compounds—and we’ll cover them too. However, many ingredients for our Stuff exist inside the earth or on its surface. They only need to be harvested or extracted... Only!
Once we start examining them, we soon find that each key ingredient requires a lot of other ingredients just to get it out of the earth, processed, and ready for use. In the case of paper, for example, we don’t just need trees. We... see more
Hear an Excerpt
Reading Group Guide
Where do our computers, soda cans, and T-shirts come from? Who and what was involved in their production? How far did they travel to reach us? And where will they go when we throw them away? Annie Leonard, creator of the internet film sensation "The Story of Stuff “takes readers on an epic journey around the world and back in time to understand our consumption-driven economy. Her conclusion is clear: we have too much Stuff, too much of it is toxic and we’re not sharing it well.
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 rampant expansion of production, consumption, and disposal that is jeopardizing our health, our happiness and the very survival of the planet’s ecosystems.
Yet there is hope. Nearly every page offers alternatives and solutions that can stop the environmental damage, social injustice, and health hazards we face. Our see more