The Story of Stuff

In about a week my wife and I are moving and, as our new home is only a couple of blocks away, it will be the shortest move we’ve ever made. But the other thing that helps make the move low stress is our shedding of so much of the stuff that makes toting and transporting boxes necessary. We can fit everything we own in a couple of carloads and love the liberty of living so lightly.

Not everyone is so inclined. According to the Self Storage Association, there are about 50,000 self-storage units in America and one in 10 households currently rent a self-storage unit. Total rentable self-storage space in America is now about 2 billion square feet or about seven square feet of self-storage space per person. That is enough for every man, woman and child to stand simultaneously under the canopy of self-storage roofing.

And an association study shows that 50 percent of renters now simply store what doesn’t fit in their homes—even though the size of the average American house has almost doubled in the last 50 years to 2,300 square feet. And about 25 percent of customers told the Self Storage Association they were storing items that they no longer need or want.

However, according to Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff, “A growing movement of people in the United States and internationally have chosen to opt out of the relentless treadmill. This approach…involves embracing a shift toward working and spending less. The focus is not on doing without, but on enhancing nonmaterial aspects of their lives, which they believe—and evidence supports—are greater sources of happiness and security anyway.” Amen.