The Story of Stuff

Contributor: Hallah Elbeleidy. Lesson ID: 10335

Do you have lots of stuff? Stuff is anything you own from a comb to a car to a computer to a castle. It has to come from somewhere! Using video and online tools, learn about your ecological footprint!



Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Ever wonder where all the stuff you have comes from or where it goes when you’re done with it?

In this lesson, you’ll watch a short video on the life cycle of stuff — where it comes from, where it goes, and where it ends up. You will learn about the environmental impacts of producing and consuming goods and learn about how much land area it takes to support your current lifestyle!

Spend 5 to 10 minutes writing an inventory of each item you own and the quantity of each item, e.g., 7 pairs of jeans, 15 t-shirts, 4 video games, etc.

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to begin thinking about all of the material things you have access to and interact with daily. Don’t worry if you run out of time. We will explore how what you wrote in this exercise relates to a broader understanding of consumption by watching a short film, and you will also have the chance to determine your ecological footprint.

Answer the following questions once you’re done:

  1. Did you have trouble with this exercise? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think most people have more or less stuff than you?
  3. Did writing this list make you want more stuff?
  4. Do you get rid of stuff? If yes, how often, e.g., monthly, yearly, etc.?
  5. If you get rid of stuff, what do you do with it, e.g., trash, donate, or sell it?

Watch this short film (below) on The Story of Stuff, print Facts from The Story of Stuff from, then answer the following questions:

  • What stood out the most and least to you?
  • How have consumption patterns changed over time? And why?
  • Do you believe our awareness of how our daily actions affect the environment has increased? Why or why not, and provide examples.

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