by Kathie England

Better Than Before – Day 9

Yesterday’s blog ended with my assertion that today’s clutter in our homes and offices is a symptom of our overabundance and our disregard for the environment. Although I strongly believe there is hope for reclaiming our spaces, our lives, and our environment, I want to share some scary statistics that I read in TIME Magazine’s March 23, 2015 issue in an article titled, “The Joy of Less” by Josh Sanburn.

Sanburn reports that “Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally.” He indicates that at least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. Elinor Ochs, an anthropologist at UCLA, led a decade-long study of hyperacquisition that found there are indeed consequences to acquiring too much.

Sanburn says that the current phase of our overconsumption began about 30 years ago, when Americans began committing close to half of their annual expenditures to non-necessities. Today about 1 in 6 Americans suffers from an anxiety disorder for a variety of reasons, something that appears to be not only a cause of “stuffocation” but also an effect. The research done by Ochs found that 75% of families could not park their cars inside their garage.

My goal in sharing these statistics is to raise awareness that many Americans are truly drowning in their possessions.

But there is hope!

Tomorrow’s blog will offer several strategies to help unclutter. Small changes can make a difference!

Sanburn’s article shares references for several books that have gained traction among those who want to unclutter. Though I have not yet read any of these books, I offer them for perspective:

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Maria Kondo (it’s becoming a best-seller)
  • Stuffocation by James Wallman (urges readers to spend money on experiences over possessions)
  • Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (a memoir of two minimalists)