The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

More than 10 million people have viewed the free animated film Story of Stuff (
because producer Annie Leonard shares vital, sophisticated scientific
and socioeconomic information in a way that is easy to understand and
remember. Her book (based on the film) is no exception. She breaks down
what we should know about stuff into five key sections: extraction,
production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. Although providing
much more detail than the film, the text is still easy to understand,
thanks to her clear prose, simple drawings, and humor. The Story of Stuff paints
a grim picture of how we are treating the planet as one more disposable
item. Thankfully, the last chapter is “Writing the New Story” and the
appendix includes examples of promising practices and recommended
actions. This book is invaluable for social studies and science
teachers. And don’t miss The Story of Cosmetics (, Leonard’s new online film made in the same fast-paced, funny, personal, and pointed style that characterizes the other Story of. . . films. Did you know there is lead in lipstick? That’s only the beginning.

— Rethinking Schools


A classic expose in company with An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring, The Story of Stuff expands on the celebrated documentary exploring the threat of overconsumption on the environment, economy, and our health. Leonard examines the "stuff" we use everyday, offering a galvanizing critique and steps for a changed planet.
The Story of Stuff was received with widespread enthusiasm in hardcover, by everyone from Stephen Colbert to Tavis Smiley to George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America, as well as far-reaching print and blog coverage. Uncovering and communicating a critically important idea--that there is an intentional system behind our patterns of consumption and disposal--Annie Leonard transforms how we think about our lives and our relationship to the planet.
From sneaking into factories and dumps around the world to visiting textile workers in Haiti and children mining coltan for cell phones in the Congo, Leonard, named one of Time magazine's 100 environmental heroes of 2009, highlights each step of the materials economy and its actual effect on the earth and the people who live near sites like these.
With curiosity, compassion, and humor, Leonard shares concrete steps for taking action at the individual and political level that will bring about sustainability, community health, and economic justice. Embraced by teachers, parents, churches, community centers, activists, and everyday readers, The Story of Stuff will be a long-lived classic.

Praise For…

“The intrepid Ann Leonard has written an eye-opening, humorous, and highly readable account of how our seemingly innocuous lifestyles are part of a larger system of destruction and dysfunction. Leonard gets my vote for hero of the year. A must-read.”

—Juliet B. Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth and professor of sociology at Boston College

“Where others have documented countless challenges to the Earth and its inhabitants, Annie Leonard has accomplished the rare feat of defining the systemic nature of the problems we face and offering solutions that get to the heart of the matter. Whether you are redesigning industry and commerce or simply imagining a better world for your grandchildren’s grandchildren, Annie’s work will engage you. Read it and be inspired into action.”

—Ray C. Anderson, founder and chairman, Interface, Inc.

“At once engaging, accessible, and authoritative, The Story of Stuff is a brilliant masterwork. Leonard weaves together engaging personal stories and encyclopedic knowledge of her subject to communicate a powerful systemic frame and define a spot-on agenda for practical action. I gained new facts, ideas, and inspiration. It gets my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation for anyone interested in why we humans are on a path to self-destruction and what we can do about it.”

—David C. Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning and board chair of YES! magazine

“When Annie Leonard came to work at the Center for Study of Responsive Law, she brought a special character—a dynamic curiosity; a willingness to scour the countries of the Earth to understand and document solid and chemical wastes’ production, consumption, and disposal; the intellectual and emotional intelligence to mobilize everyone she could reach to respect the ecosphere; and health and safety concerns. Those dynamic energies permeate her galvanizing, exciting, and fascinating book. You will be bouncing up and down as you are drawn through its pages, graphics, and engrossing stories. Annie Leonard not only knows ‘the story of stuff’—she has the right stuff!”

—Ralph Nader

Product Details
ISBN: 9781439125663
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: March 9th, 2010
Pages: 352