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12 Staggering Facts About How Much Stuff We Have

I wrote this post in 2015, but I thought it was worth re-visiting.

Have you ever watched the reality TV show on hoarders?  It’s amazing that people would literally drown in their stuff.  But in truth, it’s not just the hoarders.

Joshua Becker writes a blog on living the minimalist life and he’s compiled quite a list of how much Americans love their stuff.  Here are 12 facts:

  1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
  3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
  4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
  5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self-storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).
  6. 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
  7. The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).
  8. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
  9. Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
  10. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).
  1. Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).
  2. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

It’s often been said that you can tell what a person values by looking at their bank account register.  I wonder what this says about America, and what can be done about it?

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