Book Review | The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard
3525 / 5Non-fiction, environment

Wow! I wish I would have read this years ago! I learned so much about all our crap! I’m already on the road to simplify and minimize, but this really got me thinking about what more I can do.

Similar books that I’m interested in:

The video that started the conversation…

Other book recommendations from the book:

Other Notes:

  • – Climate change non-profit fighting the use of fossil fuels.
  • – The Water Footprint Network is a platform for collaboration between companies, organizations and individuals to solve the world’s water crises by advancing fair and smart water use.
  • – Center for Sustainable Economy.
  • – We all rely on services provided by nature, often without realizing it or in ways we don’t fully recognize. Earth Economics identifies and quantifies those benefits to ensure they are included in the decision-making process at all levels, so communities can mitigate risk, increase resilience, and protect their natural capital wealth.

Paradigms are so pervasive and invisible that they can be easily mistaken for truth. When this happens, we limit our creativity in finding solutions to the problems we face, since our thinking is cramped and predefined by society’s dominant framework.

There are the downshifters, those who voluntarily live simply, unplugging from commercial culture, working, and buying less.

…downshifting, enough-ism, or voluntary simplicity–involves embracing a shift towards working and spending less.

Annie Leonard

Exciting New February Releases

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam M. Grant

Book Synopsis: Why do we refresh our wardrobes every year, renovate our kitchens every decade, but never update our beliefs and our views? Why do we laugh at people using computers that are ten years old, but yet still cling to opinions we formed ten years ago?

This book sounds equal parts minimalist and environmentalism. Right up my alley and I’m excited to read it when it publishes on February 2. Also, it’s from the author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates

Book Synopsis: Bill Gates shares what he’s learned in more than a decade of studying climate change and investing in innovations to address the problems, and sets out a vision for how the world can build the tools it needs to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

I may be in the minority here as I know that he created a monopoly with Windows but I like Bill Gates. I think he and his wife are truly giving back a lot of their wealth and time to try to make things better for people all over the world. In this book, I hope to gain some insight into how he thinks we can beat this thing. It releases, February 16, 2021.

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

Book synopsis: In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a super coral that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.

Publishing February 9, Elizabeth Kolbert wrote The Sixth Extinction. Even though, I’m not sure I loved that book, it is wildly popular and I heard her speak on Bill Gates podcast, so I want to give this new book a chance.

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz

Book Synopsis: In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Another book coming out on February 2, this one looks to be a lighter read, but still with an important message. I like lost city stories like Atlantis (I know fictional) and I’m looking forward to see how Annalee helps these cities of the past come alive and tell us the story of why they disappeared.

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

Book synopsis: Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside.

This one came out last year but still sounds very interesting to me. It’s the only thing on this list that is fiction, but it is a powerful story. The Sierra Club calls this one out as a Must-Read. That’s a strong endorsement.

Book Review | The Water Will Come

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell

Excellent work on sea-level rise and what its impacts are and will be in the future. Something everyone should read.

This is an important read for those who live on the coast, California, Florida and anywhere were the land is threatened by ocean level rise.

Climate change is something we all need to be learning more about. For me, 2020 was about learning about climate change to a point, still lots to learn. I hope that in 2021 I can start making changes. From what I have learned the most powerful thing I can do is vote, but I can also make other large changes in my life that will have a small positive impact on the environment.

Some of those things I hope accomplish in 2021 are:

  • Go vegan (started in October 2020, had been vegetarian for 3 years)
  • Reduce plastic use
  • Be minimalistic and very thoughtful about everything that comes into the house
  • Vote with my purchases, by purchasing products containing and packaged with minimal or no plastic, by purchase plant-based products, shopping with vendors that are climate-friendly
  • Stop buying gasoline vehicles, this one is hard because while there are a lot of electric vehicles out there, there are no full EV minivans which is a must for my partner, also since we don’t need a new car, this will probably not be something we do for at least another year. Part of what I have learned is to use what you have as long as you can
  • Lead by example, hopefully, by doing the above I will have a chance to change some minds of those around me

Book Review | The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

A very detailed and thoughtful look at our current situation. Greatly disturbing and I wish there had been more about what we can do, however, the author does state that the most powerful thing we can do is vote. I agree, but I also think that there are other things we can do in addition and would like more discussion around that.

This was an audiobook listen for me. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars, as I wanted to hear more about how we can all impact climate change. This was discussed on a recent podcast I listened to that Bill Gates does with Rashida Jones. If you are interested in this topic this podcast is worth listening to. Also, Gates has a new book out called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need that I plan on reading soon.

Much more about this book, The Uninhabitable Earth on this Talks at Google. Embedded below.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming | David Wallace | Talks at Google

Book Review | Waste

Waste by Kate O'Neill
Waste by Kate O’Neill

Very thick and full of references. I learned a lot which is why it gets 4 stars. I wouldn’t say this is for the casual reader.

55% of waste in the US is buried in covered landfill.

Kate O’Neill

Besides the above I learned that I live in the state, California, with the largest landfill in the US, the Puente Hills landfill, which was close in 2014.

Books O’Neill references

Roughly a third of food produced of human consumption every year–approximately 1.3 billion tonnes–is lost or wasted.

Kate O’Neill

52% of fruit and vegetable produced or purchased in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand is discarded. Wow!

Documentary mentioned: Plastic China (2016)

This book was 4 out of 5 stars. I have a lot to do to improve here and I look forward to reading the books that O’Neill mentions above.