'The Story of Stuff' by Annie Leonard

"The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health -- and a Vision for Change"

Annie Leonard is a well-known international environmentalist who has spent more than 20 years investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues.

The California woman has traveled around the world and seen hundreds of factories where goods are made and areas where those goods are discarded.

In "The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health -- and a Vision for Change," Leonard connects the dots between the trash we accumulate from the "stuff" we accumulate and its direct impact on the global environment.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

VIDEO: Annie Leonard discusses her new book, which explains where our stuff goes.
Annie Leonard's 'The Story of Stuff'

Introduction

Growing up in the green and luscious city of Seattle during the 1970s was idyllic, but the real joy came in the summertime, when my family and I piled our camping gear into our station wagon and headed for the stunning North Cascades mountains. Since this was in the days before DVD players in the backseats, during the drive I'd look out the window and study the landscape. Each year I noticed that the mini-malls and houses reached a bit farther, while the forests started a bit later and got a bit smaller. Where were my beloved forests going?

I found my answer to that question some years later in New York City, of all places. The Barnard College campus where I went for my environmental studies classes was on West 116th Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and my dorm room was on West 110th Street. Every morning I groggily trudged up those six blocks, staring at the mounds of garbage that line New York City's streets at dawn each day. Ten hours later, I walked back to my dorm along the emptied sidewalks. I was intrigued. I started poking around to see what was in those never-ending piles of trash. Guess what? It was mostly paper.

Paper! That's where my trees were ending up. (In fact, about 40 percent of municipal garbage in the United States is paper products.1) From the forests I knew in the Pacific Northwest to the sidewalks of the Upper West Side to . . . where?

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