The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
Matter, “has been a near revolution in one century in materials production and consumption.”6 Stuff: When I say “Stuff” in this book, I mean manufactured or mass-produced goods, including packaging, iPods, clothes, shoes, cars, toasters, marshmallow shooters (this last from the SkyMall catalog). In the book I don’t extend the meaning to include resources, like logs and barrels of oil. I focus here on Stuff we buy, maintain, lose, break, replace, stress about, and with which we confuse our
There are many composting guides for rural, suburban, and urban settings available online. I personally prefer composting with worms—see www.wormwoman.com to learn how. 3. Go organic in your food, your garden, your cleaning products. Pesticides and toxic chemicals have no place in our food, our yards, and our homes. Remember, pesticides are designed to kill; that’s what they are for. They’re linked to a wide range of health problems from cancer to neurological and reproductive problems, and
soil is degrading or the oceans are being emptied of fish? Few of us get to see our food growing or the nets pulling our fish out of the water. Let alone where and how our T-shirts, laptops, books, and other Stuff is made, halfway across the planet. From where I sit in my cozy Berkeley bungalow, the world looks pretty good: the weather’s nice, the vast selection in the grocery store is undiminished by the fact that my state of California is in a multiyear drought. If our fruit harvest is low this
eat meat for twenty-four years. Today I occasionally eat chicken or fish but never red meat. Mercury is devastating to the brain and nervous system (see pages 74–75). So it’s bad news that the levels in my body are far higher than average; in fact I’m in the top 10 percent of people studied by the Center for Disease Control. After his many questions about potential exposure routes, Dr Schettler surmised that the mercury entered by body via my periodic tuna sushi splurges. Since receiving my test
card applications and advertisements for baby products. When I walked across the border from Pakistan to India, the archway under which I entered the country had painted across the top “Welcome to India—Drink Pepsi.” An innovative company called the Hanger Network developed clothes hangers covered with cardboard on which advertisements are printed. It distributes these free to dry cleaners around the country. Hanger Network says their hangers are even better than direct mail: for starters,