Buying for Simplifying?

January 5, 2008 at 7:29 pm 3 comments

My mom forwarded me this article, “The Struggle to Contain Ourselves,” from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.  It talks about the $6 billion — yes six billion dollar — storage and organization industry in our country.

Yes, Americans have so much stuff that we spend $6 billion a year on storage for it. And, still, this article says, 75% of Americans have so much clutter in their garages that they don’t have room for a car.  (This stat came out a UCLA study on our country’s “storage crisis.”)

It’s funny, one of my proudest feats over Thanksgiving break was creating a labeled cubby system that organizes my daughter’s toys, our mail, cameras and cell phones.  I love it, it’s so tidy and pleasing to look at. But we did spend a few bucks for this lovely organizing system (and it’s a cheap one compared to many).  We literally had to bend our budget to simplify our stuff.

Even though we try to live simply, I was going crazy from the stuff piling up in our living room.  Toys, mail, wires, receipts.  Argh!
When our daughter gets new toys, we give away or put away old ones.  We try not to buy stuff we don’t need.  We reuse bags (I admit, my one holiday gift this year is my fancy new envirosax, a set of five lush, colorful bags that roll up and fit into a little pouch in my purse, which I love — again, I spent money to save resources, I know!).

DH and I try to fight the obsession with more stuff, asking family members to pitch in together for one gift for our DD, instead of six; asking the mail carrier to stop delivering all the ads that we never look at (that, it seems, is an impossible request); cleaning out our bathroom cabinets and sticking to the same few natural products.

And, yet, I read this WSJ article, and I know I’m a part of this crisis. I know I chose to spend money on organizational products to simplify my life. To buy more to have less. It’s quite a paradox.

I think we’re doing better in our house, and I appreciate the progress. Change does not happen overnight, and we’re not extremists. But, still, we have too much stuff, buy too much stuff. We all have too much stuff.

This is nothing new, but it’s something to keep thinking about and keep working on. And if the fact that we spend $6 billion every year in this country trying to organize our stuff doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will!

Entry filed under: Life, Stuff.

New Year’s Reso-Link-tions Affirmation!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shawn  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Gosh, this is so darn true. I’m constantly looking for sales on storage bins and even found one last week. It makes me feel better having them, though. I justify this by knowing I am purging a lot of stuff … except what came in for the holidays. What is left needs a place.

    Still … I fight with myself about what I need. I mean really need. It’s a vicious cycle.

  • 2. Melissa  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    This reminds me, I really need another bookshelf. 🙂

    What I have a hard time with is this: what to store for the next kid, and what to give away. On the one hand, I believe that what we need will always be provided; on the other, it doesn’t make sense to get rid of things we’ll just have to replace in a year or two. So we just try to each have less stuff (clothes), or stuff usable my more than one kid at a time (toys and school supplies).

  • 3. Jena Strong  |  January 6, 2008 at 1:01 am

    An ongoing saga in our home/lives, too. It is so true, that we’re as addicted to the neat, pretty, nifty storage systems as we are to the stuff. We NEED them. Just today I rearranged all the kid stuff in the living room for the millionth time, so pleased to pare down and down, and still inundated with things. Keep the faith! Yes, we’re all part of the crisis, but somebody has got to be part of the solution, so we’re that, too.

    xo Jena


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To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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