|To sample, click the book cover...|
AND, Ms. Leonard aced out Citizen You to grab the coveted Golden Sticky Award for the most "news you can use"-packed book of the 2011 thus far. The winning #? 48 stickies!
Why you'd want to read it:
* You watched the short online video "The Story of Stuff", got hooked, got curious, or got skeptical: You want more background info. so you can feel convinced enough to shift your views a bit or to take action at home or in your community.
* You'd like to create a study group in your neighborhood, town, or family to start increasing your well-being while adjusting your "stuff", and you're looking for a book to get conversations and action started.
* You're pretty skeptical about claims that our consumption - particularly in the U.S. - has any appreciable impact on our world or our children's future. You're open to a compelling argument with plenty of footnotes to up credibility, and you're OK with the fact that Leonard's shaping her case by carefully by choosing not only what she puts in, but also what she leaves out and how she spins each and every piece of information.
* You're entirely convinced that our consumption - particularly in the U.S. - has an appreciable impact on our world and our children's future.
* You didn't know that corporations (at least in the U.S.) have all of the rights but few of the responsibilities of human beings, and that their chief legal responsibility is to make money for their shareholders (all other considerations take a back seat). You'd like to know much more about how those facts affect your own personal health and happiness. (FYI: Another place to start your exploration of corporations is the free online video The Corporation...)
* You're a professor or teacher who's creating an introductory unit or course on sustainability and the triple bottom line (well-being for humans & communities, positive impact on the environment, and economic well-being for the business enterprise) and want a readable yet information-rich foundation text.
* You write a book blog focused on taking positive action with each tome under your dome, and you're looking for a good read that's also action-rich. :-) And to that point...
1. Get rid of aluminum and PVC in my home - all #3 plastic food & household-related containers, plastic wrap, vinyl products of all sorts - and stop purchasing them. (These are Leonard's top two suggestions, so I'm taking them. Plus, they align with my three-month de-stuffing of my house anyway so I don't have to count them as new actions, right?)
2. Re-create the list of questions I used to keep in my wallet and pull out to ask myself before every purchase. (Do I really need this? Could I borrow it instead? Does it harm other beings in any way? Does it harm me in any way? Can it be repaired? Reused? Recycled? Is it made locally?) Then use it.
Just the Gist
Title: The Story of Stuff
Author: Annie Leonard
Year Published: 2010
Pages: 267 (with small print) plus 33 pages of end notes
Book's Website: http://storyofstuff.com/ (I recommend watching the 20 minute film there first.)
Overall rating: ****
I must say that - after years of research and work on this topic - I'm predisposed to agree with Leonard's case. That said, I must also note that this book is pretty relentlessly frightening and upsetting, and I found myself less and less inclined to pick it up again with every chapter, not because of the writing - which moved along smoothly - but because the content left me overwhelmed. SO, I've concocted a few ideas on how to keep yourself engaged and calm while you keep reading.
For those ideas plus links to purchase your copy of The Story of Stuff:
The Book: A few pointers before you pick it up.
1. Best to read this in chapters, with sticky-notes and a highlighter at hand. There is an enormous amount of content here, and practical ideas for us as action-readers are interspersed with background information, so you'll invest your first-read time wisely by making note of your own "aha moments" and favorite next-steps. And a corollary tip:
2. Take your time, and take breaks. Although Annie Leonard's tone here is conversational and her stance is that we not only must but CAN change the course our human (corporate) actions have put us on, the content is - as one might guess - relentlessly depressing and one might often feel overwhelmed and powerless while reading this book. So...
3. Best to talk it through with a local friend, bookblog-pal, or small group, and to focus on what you can do right now and what new questions or concepts from The Story of Stuff you might hold in your heart & mind to help you shift your own personal trajectory.
4. Give yourself permission to skip around a bit. Yes, the main five chapters follow the same narrative order as the video, but if you ground yourself in that engaging short film, you can move around in the book fairly freely and still receive Leonard's many messages clearly.
To get The Story of Stuff, click either of the links below. (I'm not affiliated w/either site, just offering options. And, in fact, Leonard cites research from Treehugger magazine that if you bike, walk, or take public transit for no more than 8 miles each way, shopping locally is better for the environment. Otherwise, bundling book orders and shopping online using ground shipping is probably best for the planet, although of course not as beneficial to the local community and economy. Who knew?)
MFB with less stuff,