Friday, July 8, 2011

The Story of Stuff

According to the EPA, Americans generate 236 million tons of garbage each year. 164 million tons of garbage eventually end up in landfills, including...

26,800,000 tons of food
8,550,000 tons of furniture and furnishings
6,330,000 tons of clothing and footwear
5,190,000 tons of glass beer and soda bottles
4,200,000 tons of plastic wrap and bags
3,650,000 tons of junk mail
3,470,000 tons of diapers
3,160,000 tons of office paper
3,070,000 tons of tires
2,820,000 tons of carpets and rugs
2,230,000 tons of newspapers
2,060,000 tons of appliances
1,520,000 tons of magazines
1,170,000 tons of wine and liquor bottles
970,000 tons of paper plates and cups
840,000 tons of books
830,000 tons of beer and soda cans
780,000 tons of towels, sheets, and pillowcases
540,000 tons of telephone directories
450,000 tons of milk cartons
160,000 tons of lead-acid (car) batteries

for the rest of us, there is someone out there who is tackling the problem of our human waste in a way that is both informative and engaging. This modern visionary is Annie Leonard, who several years ago began to do an extensive study of what happens to all the stuff we buy and then dispose of. The results of this personal odyssey were captured by Leonard in her animated documentary, The Story of Stuff.

Now Leonard has gone one step further by taking the basic ideas that she developed in her film and writing one of the most illuminating books that I have read in recent years--also entitled The Story of Stuff. What separates Leonard from many other environmental activists is that she never seems to have an ax to grind. Leonard simply lays out the steps involved in the production and disposal of our human stuff and explains in an objective and fairly dispassionate way what the consequences of this system are.

Leonard's documentary and book should be considered required reading for anyone who is concerned about the future of our planet.....Just be sure to get the book from your public library instead of buying it, so you don't unintentionally commit eco-hypocrisy!


  1. People should defenatly stop throwing trask on the ground. I try to reciycle my cans and plastics. Throw you're trash in the garbage we want to make the world a cleaner planet.

  2. The story of stuff is a great piece for someone who is living in the 3rd millenium. Yea okay i get it a lot of things people do now-a-days is not "environmentally" safe or eco-friendly but is it a direct effect or one for the distant future? All we need to worry about is now and how we are going to line up the future for our kids and grandkids NOT our relatives who are not even going to have a chance to read the bible since it most likely will be either banned by that time or forgotten about. The only means for recycling is to make better of our resources to generate more revenue. Business, Business, is the key to life's door and the only way this will continue to be a trend is to not get distracted by the green monsters of the world.


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