Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: The Story of Stuff

Piggy gives this book high marks for comfort

If you're at all like me, you may have assumed that since you've seen The Story of Stuff video, reading the book would be redundant. But, friends, that couldn't be further from the truth. Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff is probably my favorite so far in the green/environment genre.

First, let's talk about Leonard's writing skills, shall we? Tackling the consumer product life cycle in detail, and being able to do so in an entertaining way? That takes skillz people. Yes, that's right, she's so badass she has not just skills, but skillz! I mean I actually wanted to read this book every night; I looked forward to it even.

Reasons to like this book:
  • You like stats? This book is chock full of them. Like, for example, did you know it takes 98 tons of materials to make a single ton of paper? Yikes! Here's another one, in the US alone we consume more than 80 million tons of paper. We consume 1.6 million metric tons of paper, or 30 million trees, one our books alone. All joking aside, that's pretty sobering.

  • Need some motivation for your next green step? Maybe I'm just a slow learner, but Leonard manages to explain our current environmental crisis more completely and more accessibly than in any other book I've read. No, I really never thought about, or learned about the mind-boggling number of resources and energy it takes, not to mention the pollution created, to make a single aluminum can. Understanding the full scope of the problem makes me even more motivated to do something about it. In fact, after I read this book I finally ditched my PVC shower curtain for good.

  • It's accessible. Want an easy-to-read, entertaining way to explain climate change and our environmental crisis to your mom, your kid, your grandma or crazy uncle Lou? This, I would say, is your book. If this book doesn't motivate people to care, nothing will. Everyone in the United States, and heck, anyone who buys stuff should read this book to make sure we all understand the full impact of our present unsustainable lifestyles.

  • You like solutions? Leonard's not claiming to have all the answers, but she definitely lays out ways we can and must collectively change every step of the production cycle, from extraction to disposal, and beyond that our entire lifestyles and values. Leonard notes that while such huge challenges such as changing our entire lifestyle and economic model, aren't things we can tackle through individual action, greening our personal lifestyles can be a motivational force for us and others. For this, she includes some green steps we can each take. Most of these you've probably heard of before, but reminders are always good. I personally need to ditch the teflon nonstick pans (I'm hoping Santa will help with this). She also recommends investing in the economy you want by buying local, union, fair-trade, etc. Definitely something I'm trying to get better about.
The final ruling: 5.0/5.0

Obviously, if you've read this far you know I'm a big fan of this book. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you're only going to read one book in the environment/sustainability genre this year, this should be the one.

1 comment:

  1. Going to pick up the book for my vacation. Thanks for the review!


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