Stuff, stuff, stuff. Piled in the attic, the garage, and the trunk. Do you ever feel like you are overrun with stuff? Do you have that frustrated feeling that you are spending inordinate amounts of time searching in piles. Me too!
To provided some added motivation for all of us to purge the clutter, I have gone in search of some intel on the Real Cost of Too Much Stuff. What I have found is pretty eye opening. Hang on to your lawn chair (that is unless you have 5 others just like it that never get used).
According to the Self Storage Association, the self storage industry generated approximately $27.2 billion in revenue in the United States in 2014. Over the last 40 years, this business has been the fastest growing segment of the real commercial estate industry. There are thousands upon thousands of storage facilities in the United States and worldwide.
It took the self storage industry more than 25 years to build its first billion square feet of space; it added the second billion square feet in just 8 years (1998-2005) (per SSA).
Some 47% of self-storage unit renters in the U.S. have an annual income under $50,000 notes the Self Storage Association. According to CostHelper.com, the average price of a 5 ft. X 5ft. rental unit in the United States is $40 to $50 a month with a 10ft. X 15ft. unit running anywhere from $75 to $140 per month. Month after month this can really add up.
Sure some people rent storage units while moving, on deployment, or for business purposes. But many people rent storage units to store stuff they have simply run out of room in their residence for. Based upon the monthly costs above, the cost to keep this extra stuff can be pretty steep.
Did you know that U.S. Home Organization Products Industry is a more than $8.8 billion dollar business that is expected to continue to growth 3.5% per year through 2019?
Our national obsession (I am definitely speaking to myself as well here) with attempting to bring some order to the clutter chaos, has helped fuel this steadily growing industry. A 2013 Houzz & Home Survey, shows that almost half of homeowners, 42 percent, cited the need for improving storage and efficiency as a reason for renovation projects. There are more than 4,000 members of the National Association of Professional Organizers. And we consumers pack the parking lot and our trunks at The Container Store and IKEA on a regular basis.
Although there is not a lot of hard data available, many scientists and psychologists give credence to the idea that clutter and increased stress levels go hand in hand. I know personally, that when everywhere I look stuff strewn all about, I start to feel agitated. Check out this great article by Mikael Cho on LifeHacker titled How Clutter Affects Your Brain (And What You Can Do About It).
After reading that article, I now understand why I get a feeling of exhilaration when I donate extra, perfectly good stuff, to local charities in my area.
All that stuff that we collect has to be made utilizing limited natural resources. According to Worldwatch Institute, “Calculations show that the planet has available 1.9 hectares of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes—yet the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares worth. These “ecological footprints” range from the 9.7 hectares claimed by the average American to the 0.47 hectares used by the average Mozambican”. Though resource use amounts are the subject of much debate, it is becoming increasingly clear that the balance of product demand vs. long-term resources available for production is skewed. We are looking at rapidly increasing environmental costs for living lives with too much stuff.
Okay, all these numbers about overconsumption and their meaning to our lives today and into the future are pretty sobering. I chose, though, to look at them as the kick in the pants I need to redouble my efforts to declutter and to carefully evaluate those things that I chose to acquire.
And the great thing is that I can start small, concentrating on paring down and decluttering one area at a time. I can gradually find new homes for items I really do not need but that could be useful to others. And I can explore ways to recycle items that can then be given a new life in a different form. The best thing is that we can all do this by simply starting small.
For more consumption reducing tips: