The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

This book has a great cover that pretty well conveys what
the whole thing is about:  there’s a stick man with a shopping
cart full of all the stuff he just bought—desk lamp, small TV,
electronics, etc.  And then there’s a stick man with a garbage
can full of all the stuff he is throwing away–desk lamp,
small TV, electronics, etc.  We’re a BUY and THROW IT AWAY
nation and   . . .

and well, it just can’t continue that way.  We in the United States
are using up more of the world’s resources faster than they can be replaced.
And we are using up way more than our share of the world’s goods
at the expense of poorer nations.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard 004


The book was written in 2010 and you might think it dated—and I hope a lot of progress has been made
—but I found it to be a strong reminder of what we
all must do yet.

Hazardous materials that we buy and use—like Teflon frypans, and plastics with PVC, are still widely available.    Millions of one-use plastic bottles clog
our landfills, and we buy goods that have
ridiculous extra packaging.  Let’s not get started
on the issue of everybody’s water supply.


Ms Leonard writes about the mercury levels in our fish.  But, she
questions, why does the government warn people against eating
too much tuna—instead of leveling restrictions on the industries
that put mercury into our environment?

Yes, we recycle–but why are industries who use the heavy plastics
and cardboards to package the stuff not held responsible for its
disposal?  Remember when you could buy a squirt gun all by
itself—-not encased in a big cardboard stupid display?  (You
may not still be buying squirt guns . . .)

Speaking of recycling—-oh, we’re so proud that we recycle–and
that’s a good thing (although lately articles are being written that
all the recycling stuff is mixed together—no, absolutely no use,
for recycled paper .  . .)

But the best solutions to our problem of trash is not to recycle
yet—————First, don’t buy it!  or REDUCE the amount of
stuff we buy.  Next, REUSE it after we’re finished with it–trade
it or give it away or use it for another purpose.  If those things
fail, then RECYCLE it at the curb.   Keep stuff away from those
trash cans at the curb!

I can kind of pat myself on the back because  O’Half and I have
always been interested in antiques.  Maybe when we first got
married we bought not exactly “antiques” but furnished our
rooms with what they used to call “second hand shops”.   I used
to be able to count on one hand any brand new furniture we had.
So I hope we saved a little bit in the name of green economics.
I still love to browse the flea markets and am interested more in
old things than new.  (I am “reusing”.)

Annie Leonard has spent a big part of her life working on
the problem of trash and it’s a book well worth reading.  I can see
why it’s on the list of suggested books for freshmen to read before
they enter the University of California at Berkeley.

What did I take away from it?

Stop buying stuff!  Stop throwing it away!



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2 Responses to The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

  1. Stefanie says:

    Sounds like a really good book. And good questions too. Why indeed does the government warn about mercury in fish but do nothing to lower mercury levels?

    • booksandbuttons says:

      Hi Stefanie–the author asks some tough questions throughout.
      I think you might like the book—-sounds like you are already
      on a “green” path.

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