Our Love Affair With Stuff

Colorful Stuff

We have a love affair with stuff. Some experts estimate that the average American home contains 300,000 items. Those items don’t just cost money to acquire. They make us pay dearly over time in terms of:

  • Space: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that less than half of all two-car garages are actually used to park two cars. According to the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) we regularly wear only a fraction (20 %) of the clothes we own.
  • Time: A study by a Boston marketing firm showed that Americans burn 55 minutes a day looking for things we know we own but cannot find. The National Soap & Detergent Association estimates that getting rid of clutter would eliminate almost half of the housework in the average home.
  • Money: Harris Interactive reports that 23% of adults incur late fees on their bills because they lose them. An article in Consumer Reports states that one in 10 households rents space at a storage facility. Average cost: close to $2,000 per year.  Storing things at home is not free either. Many of us have “outgrown” our first home and are now making payments on a bigger mortgage to house our expanding collection of stuff.
  • Health: In a study done at Princeton University, researchers found that clutter competes for our attention and impacts our ability to focus. A study from UCLA looked at families in homes filled with an abundance of toys and household items. The researchers found that the mothers’ stress hormone levels spiked when they were home dealing with their belongings. Those stress hormone levels dropped when they left. Organizing expert Peter Walsh noticed a link between overconsumption of stuff and overconsumption of food, resulting in weight gain.

That’s a hefty price to pay. Is it time to take a good hard look at the contents of your home and storage spaces, and shed some of that dead weight?

Next month we’ll look at some practical tips to get you going.

If attempts to get decluttered and organized on your own don’t lead to the desired results, consider hiring qualified help. Professional Organizers help clients declutter, organize and take control of their space efficiently and effectively. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) provides a convenient practitioner search tool at their web site www.napo.net .

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