The Story of Stuff

Most of us know we have too much stuff.  The wake up subtitle says it all about the take away of this book –“How our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, our Communities and our Health–And a Vision For Change.”

Author Annie Leonard starts by taking us behind the curtain of exactly where all our stuff comes from, where it goes—and most important, the havoc it wreaks along the way. Begun as a 20-minute internet video that has been seen by over 10 million people around the world, The Story of Stuff  follows Stuff from the initial extraction of natural resources, through production, distribution, consumption, and disposal.

Though her command of facts is impressive, Leonard is no armchair academic. She has conducted extensive fieldwork, visiting landfills and factories in 40 countries. She connects the dots between our private and cultural preoccupation with consumption, and our political preoccupation with the objective of growth. Neither is sustainable.

Leonard also highlights the worldwide inequity generated by our way of life, with the wealthiest 1% of the world consuming as much as the bottom 57%. This is a sobering but ultimately hopeful living green book, supplemented with promising policies and reforms, and how you can get involved.

In 2008 Leonard was named a Hero of the Environment by Time Magazine. I have seen her speak and she is excellent; don’t miss a chance to see her.  And quite impressively, she kept up with Stephen Colbert when she appeared on his show!

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