Annie Leonard

The phrase “viral video” usually inspires a shudder of revulsion (see: Two Girls, One Cup), but Seattle-raised environmentalist Annie Leonard scored a very different kind of hit with the 2007 YouTube short she’s now expanded into a book. The Story of Stuff (Free Press, $26) is like the macroeconomic companion volume to Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man: Rather than making herself the guinea pig in a living-with-less experiment, Leonard patiently explains why the rest of us are living with more. Meaning more than we need, more than we can afford, more than natural resources can support. Her video, a cheerfully animated takedown of the consumer cycle, has been used in classrooms, and her book now supplies the footnotes and supporting graphs. Still, the former Greenpeace activist doesn’t present herself as an academic: The Story of Stuff is Leonard’s friendly polemic against the excess waste and toxic byproducts of our super-sized shopping habits. And her message is delivered without too much finger-wagging and guilt-mongering, which ought to further endear her to a hometown audience already converted to recycling, reusing, co-housing, and backyard chicken raising. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., March 24, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
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