The Story of Stuff


Annie Leonard spent ten years following the trail our stuff makes and the end result of her hard work is this freely available, 20 minute video. Teachers have had great success using it in the classroom, according to an article in the New York Times.

The video is geared towards kids, but even for those of us who aren’t kids anymore, it’s 20 minutes well-spent. I think The Story of Stuff website explains it best:

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

If you have the time, please take a look at the video. It really will change the way you view your stuff. Click any link labeled The Story of Stuff in this post to view it.


  1. Hi Beth,

    This is great stuff! (How do you like that pun? 🙂 ) Seriously, most of us know that this is a significant problem, but it’s so easy to forget about it and get back to our convenience driven lifestyles that destroy the planet. This video is a great reminder.

    Their recommendation to use energy efficient light bulbs might not be the greatest:

    Thanks for making me aware of this site and video. I plan to blog about it in the future.

  2. Thanks for leaving the comment, Vin. I was excited when I found the video and thought others may want to know about it as well.

    Thanks, also, for leaving the comment about the Times article. It’s sad, but good to know that sometimes our attempts at efficiency do have a price for others. I read another story recently (but can’t remember where) about a U.S. company that was supposedly recycling people’s electronic equipment for them. In reality, the company was simply shipping all the mercury-laden monitors and other computer parts to China where they were being dumped and making loads of people sick.

  3. The definitive critique to the Story of Stuff:

  4. Brian,

    Interesting video. It’s always good to see two sides to an argument. Regardless of how accurate the facts presented in the original video are (I disagreed with some of them myself), it’s still a powerful and relavant message. Without a doubt, we’re very wasteful and there really isn’t any need for it.

    Is it really so bad for a 9 year old to think that Legos are going to destroy the earth? I agree, it’s drastic and unfortunate, but in my opinion, it’s far better than a 9 year old who begs and pleads for the newest lego set only to let it collect dust after playing with it once.

    And who’s to say that this guys facts are straight? Water is cleaner than it’s been in decades? No matter how you slice the data, all the water on the planet is polluted with synthetic chemicals that we made. Sure, some of those chemicals are important, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have been more careful, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be more careful going forward.

    Synthetic chemicals increase our standard of living? Tell that to people who’s lives have been pracitically ruined by chemical sensitivities. Or perhaps this guy is like the doctors who say “it’s all in their head.” Regardless, as long as every 9 year old child has legos on their shelf collecting dust, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

    Perhaps he could also justify why conventional farming is rapidly destroying land, why the food industry is pushing junk food as a healthy choice, and why the drug industry is making patients out of healthy people.

    My point is that this guy is nitpicking a worth while cause. What’s his point? That we should continue depleting natural resources and continue polluting the planet just because these problems might not be as bad Annie Leonard says they are?