4 July 2014

Green Reads: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

Living plastic free has evoked changes in my life. Along the way I have been called to question all that I was familiar with. While blogs have provided a great resource for finding answers, sometimes I have needed to dive a little deeper to understand.

Normally my literature choices hover around historical fiction or memoirs on rock and roll bands. So jumping into pages that study the misuse of our resources has been a change. A big eye opening change!
Each time I delve into the green genre at second hand bookstores I get a tremendous urge to ditch my city life and build an eco-solar powered chemical free fortress away from everything. But that is not sustainable. It is way more sustainable to work with what you have and make better choices going forward – we don’t need more stuff! And that is what I learnt from my latest read The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard.


The story is cleverly put together and displays Leonard’s years of experience tracking trash around the globe. Her narrative explains in depth the linear journey of where stuff comes from and where it goes to die. The word Stuff being a collective summary of what we consume/purchase. She details her visits to factories around the world and the communities that are affected by our obsession for consumerism. Her stories of mines in Africa left me looking at my electronics in a different light.

The humour and language makes the barrage of information accessible, offering not only an informative read but also very enjoyable. There are cleverly drawn images to break down the ideas further. I do wonder if I had read this as a teenager would I have been as free wielding with my cash in my teen years and early twenties. I don't think I would. The book stirred up a lot of emotions which I was not prepared for. Waves of guilt were felt and tears were shed as I read about the western worlds mismanagement and cluelessness. I had no idea how much my choices as a consumer could affect others.

The author acknowledges the guilt and emphasises to not feel guilty about past choices instead focus on making better ones in the future. Leonard acknowledges it is hard to change habits. But by having the facts of where and how our stuff is made this powerful information alone will guide more people to make the right choice for the planet, those that make stuff and ultimately the consumer who uses stuff. It is about the power of knowledge and asking the right questions.

This book is not anti-stuff. It is pro value for the stuff we have and the people that mined it and made it. There are many valuable resources in the book to help find information so we, as consumers, can make better choices.

If you are not a reader then please watch the 20 minute documentary, The Story of Stuff. This is what kickstarted the book.




  1. I love this book! The part that really sticks with me is when she talks about her trip- was it to Bangladesh?- and the little kids use her discarded Pantene bottle as a toy. I need to see this documentary still!

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    1. I know the part you are talking about. They use the bottle as a vase! Really makes me think differently about up-cycling and reusing. Definitely see the documentary you will enjoy it :)

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