Too Much Stuff!

Too Much Stuff!

Too much Stuff!

Ever heard of “the materials economy“?  Author and activist Annie Leonard breaks it down very clearly in her book and documentary series (the Story of Stuff, as what we THINK we already know of the sustainability issue: “extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal”.

The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industri...
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)







In fact, according to author Paul Hawkin, in his book Natural Capitalism (1999), p.81, apx 99% of all the product society comes across is TRASHED after 6 months!

Now, of course, that doesn’t just apply to what we BUY,the author here is referring to the whole systemic product lifecyle: extraction, production, packaging, transporation, and selling all that stuff is involved too… so where does my “ownership” of the problem come in?

The Story of Stuff
The Story of Stuff (Photo credit: net_efekt)

Well, think for a moment about the fact that the “average American” now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago! Why is that? (“Why Consumption Matters” by Betsy Taylor and Dave Tilford,in The Consumer Society Reader Edited by Juliet B Schor andDouglas Holt (2000), p. 467.)

The New York Times - How Americans Spend their...
The New York Times – How Americans Spend their Money (Photo credit: davidcrow)







Is this generational, you might ask?  My own Grandma used to reference how they were “war babies” and participated in “rationing”, but I was too young to pay attention. Now that she is gone, I wish I could have learned more from her example….

Grandma's Class
Grandma’s Class (Photo credit: Henthorn)

We seem to be losing touch with our connection to what we surround ourselves with and where it comes from. For example: growing up, both my parents and grandparents had a garden.  We would supplement our dinner table with fresh greens and fruits.  Now, I have to hit the local farmers market, or Sprouts, to have a similar experience for my own children….do they even know how these things are grown?

So, what can we do?  Well, everyone loves a party.. and there is one coming up just on this topic! Instead of taking advantage of Black Friday sales, many activists will be taking to the streets this year to bring awareness to the issue in celebration of “BUY NOTHING DAY”

Credit on Toast
How do you want to butter your bread?

So, this year for Thanksgiving, I plan on making my “vote” count, and “speaking” with my dollars, by staying home with my family and NOT shopping for a while!  I hope that this will set an example for my children, that quality of life is not in the goods that you own, but in how you act with the people you surround yourself with.


Buy Nothing Day promo
Buy Nothing Day promo



Activists take to the streets on Black Friday to protest compulsive consumerism!




  1. I have read so many books on how to get rid of and organize my stuff. I’m no hoarder, but we definitely have a lot of clutter in our lives. I definitely think part of having stuff is because you don’t want to waste it and you “might need it later”, but part of the reason I have so much stuff is because I buy so much stuff. It’s fun to buy stuff and that’s bad. It makes us slaves to the system, and sometimes it just takes a little thing like one day of not buying stuff or one day of not eating meat to break our cycle.

    • Hi Erin
      I totally agree with you- who (especially those of use from any sort of retail background) hasn’t gone in for some retail therapy? It’s amazing how I instantly crave things I don’t need everytime I go into the store and are instantly surrounded by “things”! Are we hard wired to want more, just like the pre-disposition to crave sweets?

      For myself, I have a good “foil” to me mass consumption sensibilites- my spouse is the bread winner, and is also a “zen” minimalist. He could live out of a suitcase and be happy. So, we live in constant “discussion” on “keep it, or thow it out!”. And he definitely is not down with more is more. So, it’s a negioation.

      I feel as thow I have two voices in my head: one saying “oh, that’s cute…I want it”, and the other, “no, you don’t need anything else: be happy with what you have, there are better things in life”. And each day is a battle to see who wins.

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