Are You “Stuffocating”?

Are You “Stuffocating”?

Is your closet filled to bursting, but you feel like you never have anything good to wear? Are you endlessly tidying, but the house still always feels cluttered? If you have children, is it a constant battle to help them keep their rooms clean? If these sound like familiar feelings, it’s probably a good indicator that you have too much “stuff.” And you’re not alone.

The average American household contains over 300,000 items, and homes have tripled in size over the past 50 years. North American and Western Europe account for 60% of private consumption spending—and the purchases are invading our space and cluttering our lives. Here are a few more surprising statistics (compiled by Josh Becker at Becoming Minimalist) that show just how bad the “stuffocation” problem is:

  • 1 out of every 10 Americans rent a storage unit (despite the increase in home size over the past few decades), and there is enough storage facility square footage in the United States that every citizen could simultaneously stand under the roof of a storage facility.
  • The average American home has more televisions than people, and those televisions are turned on for more than a third of the day.
  • Americans spend more money on shoes, jewelry, and watches than they do on higher education, and there are more shopping malls in the United States than there are high schools. Women in the United States spend approximately eight years of their life shopping.
  • The average American woman owns 30 outfits—as opposed to 9 outfits in 1930. American families spend around $1,700 a year on clothing, but throw away 65 pounds of clothing per person, per year.
  • During their lifetime, the average American will spend a total of 153 days (3,680 hours) searching for lost items, despite the fact that the $8 billion home organization industry is growing at a rapid rate of 10% each year. Americans report spending a total of $1.2 trillion each year on items they don’t really need.

Society has long set its standards by what people own. From the beginning of recorded history, those with more possessions have often been regarded in higher esteem than those who owned less. However, too often we end up finding out that the time we spend accumulating things is lost time that we can’t get back, and that possessions never truly bring lasting happiness.

One popular book recommends going through all our possessions and keeping only those that “bring us joy.” Others suggest getting rid of everything that we really don’t need, so that we can spend less time tidying and more time living life. Taking time to recognize the number of possessions we have and considering whether we actually need everything we own can help us have save money, spend our time in more worthwhile pursuits, enjoy more time with friends and family, and have better mental and emotional health.

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