Anti-consumerism activist and DIY filmmaker Annie Leonard spent 10 years looking into the lifecycle of consumer goods. Her short, web-based film, ‘The Story of Stuff’ has been watched over 10 million times and has recently been made into a book, further detailing Annie’s extensive research into the cycle of production, consumption and disposal that has become intrinsic to American-style capitalism.

Here is an excerpt from the book (via

Currently we have this great illusion of choice in this country – but it is almost entirely limited to the consumer realm. Walk into any supermarket these days, and what do we see: choice, or actually the appearance of choice. Thousands of products.

In The Story of Stuff film, Leonard claims that Americans spend 3-4 times as many hours shopping than Europeans. From the book, we learn that she believes that the discourse on consumerism is healthier in Europe. Capitalism isn’t a sacred cow, even in the UK.

Leonard calls upon wider research to argue the sociological and psychological consequences of our all-consuming epidemic, including that of Tim Kasser and Robert Putman. Kasser identified a connection between an excessively materialistic outlook and increased levels of anxiety and depression, while Putman argues we’re paying the ultimate price for our consumeristic tendencies with the loss of friendships, neighbourly support and robust communities. Together they suggest we are witnessing nothing short of the collapse of social fabric across society.


Read the entire review of Annie Leonard’s book The Story of Stuff in the Guardian.

Watch Annie Leonard’s short films ‘The Story of Stuff’, ‘The Story of Electronics’, ‘The Story of Bottled Water’ and ‘The Story of Cap and Trade’ at

The Story of Stuff, the book!

Additional resources:

San Francisco Chronicle – Live like a green heroine – and hold the stuff