The average American household contains over 300,000 items. Since 1970 the average home has grown by over 1,000 square feet, while family size has decreased, leaving us with double the living space per individual. One industry that has experienced incredible success as a result of American hoarding is that of storage units. Some estimates state that 1 in 10 Americans have their own storage unit, and there is enough storage space for each American to have 7.3 square feet to themselves.
While storage units can be incredibly helpful as interim storage during a move or vacation, many units are being used as long-term storage for unnecessary belongings. So if American houses are bigger, families are smaller, and garages are common, why do we need so much extra space for our stuff? The problem is consumerism. Included here are a few symptoms that demonstrate how severe the consumerism disease is in America.
The Toy Problem
It hardly comes as a surprise that American children are incredibly spoiled. From the moment an impending baby is acknowledged, the prospective parents are showered with gifts and piles of baby gear. While people are having babies worldwide, those in first world countries are spending thousands of dollars on baby gear just in the first year.
As the children age, the problem of spending doesn’t decrease any. Kids are being pitched products and advertisements on television from their toddler years and developing their own brand loyalty. While only 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, they consume more than 40% of the global toy market. The average ten-year-old owns 238 toys, but only plays with 10 of them on a daily basis.
The Entertainment Industry
A resounding problem with consumerism is the need to entertain oneself. No longer can the simple outdoors or library books keep individuals entertained. People are finding themselves in need of thousand dollar entertainment systems, with more televisions in homes than people and those televisions being turned on for over 8 hours a day.
Additionally, the modern man’s affinity for technology has led to thousands of dollars spent on tech gadgets each year. Many American homes contain cell phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, fitbits, Wiis and much more; and, with the need to stay relevant, those costly electronics are being replaced at breakneck speed, contributing to the more than doubled spending rate on material goods than 50 years ago.
The Excessive Spending
Perhaps the primary problem with American consumerism is the excessive spending. Americans make large amounts of money each year, but spend nearly all of it and land themselves in piles of debt. The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes each year but throws away nearly 65 lbs annually.
It can be hard to save money when you are spending, with nearly half of American households not contributing to personal savings accounts. With all of this spending on self, Americans only donate 1.9% of their income to charitable causes. Each year, Americans are spending $1.2 trillion on nonessential items.
The disease of consumption has deeply infected and changed the American environment. Without severe analysis of lifestyles and spending habits, Americans will continue to sink themselves in stuff and debt. Consider cleaning out your closets and finding hobbies aside from shopping to help spur change.