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Americans Have More Possessions than Any Society in History

Many Americans struggle with clutter. This is one reason for the popularity of the simplicity movement. And it’s why books like Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, become popular bestsellers.

Researchers from UCLA visited the homes of 32 typical American families. They wanted to look at how people interacted with their environments, at how they used space. They went through each room, closet, and shelf in the home and systematically documented the stuff people own.

Researcher Jeanne Arnold said, “Contemporary US households have more possessions per household than any society in global history.” Her colleague Anthony Graesch notes that our homes reflect this material abundance. “Hyper-consumerism is evident in many spaces, like garages, corners of home offices, and even sometimes in the corners of living rooms and bedrooms.”

The researchers continued, “We have lots of stuff. We have many (ways in) which we accumulate possessions in our home, but we have few processes for getting rid of them … The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children but consumes 40% of the world’s toys.” Children’s toys and objects spill out of their bedrooms into living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. The push to become consumers, to value stuff, starts at an early age.

Why do modern kids have so many toys? It may be because there are so many playthings available, so cheaply. There’s more stuff available for kids than there was fifty years ago, and that stuff costs less. Plus, priorities seem to have shifted. Modern parents see spending on kids as a priority; parents fifty years ago did not.

You can watch the video here.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Is clutter a uniquely American problem? Probably not. But because of our sheer material abundance, more of us struggle with clutter than folks in other countries. But this is an area in which we can take charge of our lives. As we purge stuff from our lives, and take control of our spending, we can gain a sense of satisfaction and self-control.

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