The Story of Stuff

How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change

The Story of Stuff

Read by: Annie Leonard
For the first time, Leonard brings our many environmental and social issues under one umbrella—our problem with consumption. Brilliantly combining information about the economy, cultures, and the environment, Leonard describes the five stages of the materials economy—extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. She illuminates how our “growth at all costs” economy operates, visiting dumps and factories around the world, she reveals the real story behind our possessions—why it’s cheaper to replace than to fix a broken flat screen TV, how the economic theory of “perceived obsolescence” encourages companies to bring out new versions of computers and cell phones ever more rapidly, to making us feel that we need the updated version.


Leonard uncovers and communicates a new idea—that there is a deliberate system based on specific economic theories behind our patterns of consumption and disposal. The Story of Stuff transforms how we think about our lives and our relationship to the planet, and offers hope that change is within reach.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9780743599160 | 
  • March 2010
List Price $23.95 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Story of Stuff  includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Annie Leonard. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Where do our computers, soda cans, and T-shirts come from? Who and what was involved in their production? How far did they travel to reach us? And where will they go when we throw them away? Annie Leonard, creator of the internet film sensation "The Story of Stuff  “takes readers on an epic journey around the world and back in time to understand our consumption-driven economy. Her conclusion is clear: we have too much Stuff, too much of it is toxic and we’re not sharing it well.

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 rampant expansion of production, consumption, and disposal that is jeopardizing our health, our happiness and the very survival of the planet’s ecosystems.

Yet there is hope. Nearly every page offers alternatives and solutions that can stop the environmental damage, social injustice, and health hazards we see more

About the Author

Annie Leonard
Photograph © Christy McDonald

Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues and has written for a range of publications. She has worked for the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production & Consumption, Health Care Without Harm, and Essential Action and Greenpeace International. In 2008, Annie was named one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment. Annie currently resides in California with her daughter.