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The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change
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The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,642 ratings  ·  491 reviews
A classic exposé 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 en
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Free Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  3,642 ratings  ·  491 reviews

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Start your review of The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jim by: High ratings by several reviewers
I think this is a really important book. There is a lot of bad news, and it is not what we want to hear, but we certainly need to. There is also good news - a long list of positive suggestions, with links, that point the way out of the trash and into a sustainable future.

I read dystopian novels, in part, to get a sense of what horrors the future may hold, and how people can or cannot adapt to them. The fact that many of those books are ripping good reads is also a big attraction. There is also (
Trevor (I no longer get notified of comments)
I haven’t seen this film – I will probably need to track it down now. This brings together a lot of things I have been thinking about lately in ways I have also been coming to slowly. However, it was just about the last place I expected to find some of these ideas. What I was expecting was a kind of sermon on the death of the planet (which it almost was in part) – in the modern world it is environmentalists who are cast as the ‘hell-fire and brimstone’ preachers (“I’ve seen the light – I will do ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ah, yes--THIS is the book I've been waiting to read forever--I wish this had been around when I had taken Juliet Schor's "Shop Til You Drop: Gender and Class in Consumer Culture" course back in college. A smart, clear activist breakdown of our toxic materials economy and the massive and devastating environmental impact of consumption on the health of workers, the planet, consumers, communities, animals, etc... and what we can do about it.

Instead of the obnoxious and ineffective "personal green
Jonathan Lu
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
at first i couldn't wait to pick this up... finally a book on the environmental impact of consumerism written by an environmental scientist! very quickly you realize that there is zero science beneath these pages.

I give this book 1 star solely because of the introductory chapter which does offer an appropriate representation of the current state of affairs in the US with just a slightly alarmist hint... which then gradually (and substantially) evolves to use of statistics and numbers for fear-mo
If you’re thinking that you might need to read this, that’s probably a good indication that you don’t. Are you for the environment? For human rights protections? Concerned with consumerist culture and overconsumption? Concerned about the steady increase in garbage and where it all goes? Are you for progress and against war? For time spent with other humans rather than with stuff? If so, you don’t need to read this. The point is to explain to people why they should think about these things. If yo ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have to DNF this, cause otherwise I will not stop crying.
EVERYONE should read this (as long as You can, I have to stop cause I’m getting very anxious and emotional, maybe it’s not the best period to listen to this audiobook for me).
I’m already practicing minimalism and low waste for years, but I will try to be better and better. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: subject-matter
I assigned The Story of Stuff to my college level writing class because they were focusing on environmental policy in their freshmen cluster classes. This book prompted a lot of good discussions about buying practices and our consumerist society and it did make some of my students question their habits but it also resulted in some of them feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the wealth of problems out there. By the end, I had a few of them facetiously say, “I’m tired of the environment!”

The t
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Americans live in a consumer society. We are constantly bombarded by advertising and encouraged to buy more and more. Purchasing something new is supposed to make us happy. We are even told it’s patriotic to shop, spend money, get the economy moving. But how many of us ever think about what it takes to produce all this stuff and ship it to stores or our homes and then haul it off to the dump to dispose of it when we are done with it. After reading The Story of Stuff, it’s difficult to look at ‘s ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-firsttime, 2011, kindle
This book has made me rethink my choices daily. I am one of those people that plays consumer regularly, doesn't think about what I am throwing away and what effects my actions have on the environment. This book has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to understand the choices and how they are impacting the future of the earth. This book goes through how stuff is created and used from the very beginning of when forests are cut down or water is used all the way through to when you throw it out ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an amazing and eye-opening book! I definitely should have read this years ago!

In this book, Annie Leonard gives a lot of in-depth information but at the same time keeps it easy to read and digest. For example, she shows you what goes on behind the scenes when making your favorite products such as cotton t-shirts, cosmetics and electronics. It is crazy and a bit frightening to read about all the toxins involved in for example bleaching paper or making furniture flame-retardant.

This is t
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Story Of Stuff" is a thought provoking book, but also a bit depressing if you really think about it. Before picking up this book I thought I was doing my part to keep the planet green, I use freecycle regularly to get rid of my unwanted stuff, I also donate to Goodwill, and try to recycle as much as I can, but heck I learned that many of the things that I recycle have toxic material in them, so instead of recycling more I need to try and waste less.

The author does a great job of showing us
Sep 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I wish the Goodreads rating system had a way to mark "I just couldn't finish it," because I didn't get past the middle of the first chapter with this one.

I had heard an interview with the author on NPR and it was great, so I was very excited and waited for ages to rise to the top of this list and get this from the library. But (a) it turns out to be topics and information that I personally have read, heard, lived and worked for years. It might be a great book for people who don't already link co
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Overall, this is a pretty useful and interesting read, but her dismissive tone (why would anyone want to watch TV when they could instead have a nice conversation with friends!?!) and failure to acknowledge her privilege really turned me off. I found some of her critiques really unpersuasive, especially with regard to online services/retailers and why and how people engage in fashion.

Also, Annie Leonard/her editors do not know the difference between rein vs. reign and positive vs. negative feedb
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dylan by: Brooke
This was a great (albeit depressing) read on the impacts of overconsumption. And considering the fact that this book is ten years old, I shudder to think of how much worse the statistics would look now. I read a physical copy of the book so I don’t have highlights to post, but I’m adding my notes/thoughts to this review for future reference.

-Our mindset regarding economic growth needs to be updated. Instead of using GDP as a measure of success, we should be focused on fundamental goals such as
Justė V.
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to read this book so much that I did not mind reading it in Spanish, the only available version at my local library.
I am glad that I did.
Although zero waste and minimalism have been in my life for several years already and I am constantly updating myself on new tips, statistics, and initiatives in these fields, I have never come across such a powerful source of information summing up the mess behind consumerism.
In the book, Annie Leonard walks the reader through different stages of the
Samantha Zee
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
While a little dry at times, Leonard does a good job of really helping us look at the big picture by evaluating our everyday actions (and the consequences) on a smaller scale and relating the two. Also I work in transportation, so I found all the supply chain aspects so interesting.

The info can just be a bit chunky at times, but Leonard never comes across as condescending and manages to leave the reader with a bit of hope that there's still time to make a difference and help the environment.
So, I've just read the opening pages of the book, and I thought she was doing really well at setting up how our pursuit of stuff will ruin us. However, even after making an excellent point that all human systems are subsystems of the earth's systems, she still makes the error that I think sabotages environmentalists everywhere. She claims that we are killing the planet. I don't think we have the capacity to kill the planet. I think the earth will easily outlast us, whatever we do. The thing we A ...more
Keith Akers
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book. Parts of it are a bit hard to get through; it drags, and the five section headings are perhaps deliberately chosen to be not-exciting: "Extraction," "Production," "Distribution," "Consumption," and "Disposal." I read probably 80%-90% of the whole thing. However, I noticed that it picked up in the last section ("Disposal"), which is evidently Leonard's special expertise and passion. The story about how toxic stuff winds up in Haiti and Bangladesh, and various people's r ...more
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book goes way beyond exhorting readers to recycle (in fact, author Annie Leonard actually speaks the heresy that recycling carries some negative implications). This book follows our Stuff from extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal.

The result is a horror story. It is a story in which I’m completely implicated – to my great discomfort, because I like my Stuff.

I found reading the book uncomfortable – like watching a documentary about things that are horrible and b
Dec 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Overall this was a good book. I definitely learned new things about how things are made, how materials are extracted, etc and all the toxic waste that is made from those processes. It's a little overwhelming in that the problems seem so huge and what am I, one person, supposed to do about it. I also thought that she could have given more suggestions and ideas for people living in different circumstances than she does. She owns a house in Berkeley and has the means (which you have to have if you ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: minimalism
The information in this book is a bit outdated since it’s been written in 2010. Unfortunately it should have been way more outdated than it is. The problems described in this book are still ongoing ten years later. We still produce too much, too fast, too unsustainable and too wasteful. And even though this book focuses mostly on the US (and uses the Netherlands a few times as an example of how it could be done better :) it kinda scares me that the author, at the end of the book, writes an image ...more
Haley Fortune
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s a bit old so i wonder how much of these stats have changed, not only how we have improved in some areas but also how we have maybe gotten worse when it comes to environmental protections and consumerism. Still, soooo interesting and is a call to action for reducing consumption, or at the very least making us more aware so we can be more intentional about what we are buying and how we are disposing of it. Such a great book to read to set the tone for the new year :) I took away one star beca ...more
Jan 19, 2021 rated it liked it
I am very glad that Annie Leonard is raising awareness in so many ways. She talks about small changes we can make in our own homes and lifestyles, but she also details how awful the living conditions are for so many humans on our planet because of environmental impacts of factories near them. She also realistically acknowledges that large-scale changes are the only thing that's going to save our planet at this point (changes of policy, laws, development techniques, etc.).

I didn't like the chapte
I wasn't expecting the "story" part of this title to be quite so literal. At least in the audiobook version, there were few to no actual references provided. Instead, Leonard recounts the findings of researchers and organizations along with histories of her own experiences and those of people she's met. It reads very much like a book written by a journalist in that way (lots of personal asides, value judgments, and name dropping) and much less like the kind of rigorously scientific book on the p ...more
Katy Koivastik
A well-researched, compelling and comprehensive treatise in support of “voluntary simplicity” and against the mostly American propensity for over-consumption. Though published more than 10 years ago, “The Story of Stuff” unfortunately remains relevant today.

The book is engagingly read by the author herself. Bravo for both writing a book so broad in scope with detailed facts and figures, as well as giving strategies to those readers who want to dial back their consumption, and for reading it pas
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The TRUTH hurts.

Our relationship with stuff must change. Our current economic system is in need of change.
By reading this book, you can understand how the things that you buy affect the planet. From the extraction to disposal.

I hope that by people becoming aware of such TRUTH we can create communities that are based on love, happiness, sustainability, and equity; An economic system that can provide for the needs of our generation without compromising the needs future generations.
Annie Rice
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Essential reading for understanding how the extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of everything we buy affects our planet and health. Makes me want to live more simply and an excellent reminder to buy less, make do, and repair belongings. 4/5 because I didn't always loooove her tone. ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: climate-crisis
An incredible, genuinely life-changing book. I cannot recommend it highly enough - in fact, it should be required reading right now, and, hopefully in the future, an artifact to remind us how far we’ve come and to illustrate the appalling systems we’ve left behind.
นรินทร์ โอฬารกิจอนันต์
so biased and data-misrepresenting.
Blair Emsick
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of fascinating facts and info but Leonard comes us as real, Realll snooty at times.. and her overall message that we should work less and buy less is just not possible for us minimum wagers
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Annie Leonard is the author and host of our very own The Story of Stuff. She is author of The Story of Stuff, the book, published by Free Press of Simon and Schuster on March 9, 2010.

Annie has spent nearly two decades investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues. She has traveled to 40 countries, visiting literally hundreds of factories where our stuff is made and dumps

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58 likes · 6 comments
“We depend on this planet to eat, drink, breathe, and live. Figuring out how to keep our life support system running needs to be our number-one priority. Nothing is more important than finding a way to live together - justly, respectfully, sustainably, joyfully - on the only planet we can call home.” 9 likes
“Why sit and stare at a box beaming messages indoctrinating us into consumer culture for hours a day when there are so many more enjoyable alternatives available?” 6 likes
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