Too Much Stuff. How Did We Get Here?

(Read in :02)“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” ~Bertrand Russell

I’m still mulling over the way we spent last weekend; sorting through stuff. Sifting junk. What to keep and what to pitch. How to pitch it and where. It’s an exhausting process. And you know what? If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, (first of all, thank you!) you know I love to begin with a great quote. Well,  I’ll be darn if it’s possible to find any early quotes on the subject of excess. On materialism, on too much stuff.

You know why? Because it’s a modern problem. In terms of history, it’s a blink. The “Great Depression” was less than a century ago. Many people alive today knew profound lack. One pair of shoes, one Sunday dress. Proof? Old houses didn’t have closets. Storage wasn’t necessary. When things got better, who could blame them for reveling in the joy of more and holding on to their possessions for dear life? During World War II, the motto was “use it up or wear it out, make it do or do without.” And the whole country did!!

How in the heck did we get so much stuff?

In two generations we’ve gone from too little to way too much. Crazy over buying, houses bursting at the seams. Drive around any expensive neighborhood, the kind with three-car garages, and you’ll often see two of them stacked to the ceiling with storage totes and boxes. Storage units and storage containers have become a license to print money. Landfills cost an average of $20 million dollars to build and cost millions of dollars to operate every year. We are suffocating under our excess.

“If you have to buy stuff to store your stuff, you may have too much stuff.”

Thankfully there is a movement, a counterculture emerging. The pendulum is swinging and as it always does, there will be extremes. Minimalism and tiny houses are “in.” Capsule wardrobes and simplicity are the new darlings of the younger generation and I love them for it.

Enough is enough

Today’s post is short-ish, not too many words. But I’m not done. I want to share an outstanding video about the problems that result from our love affair with stuff. It’s about 20 minutes long but very well done and engaging enough I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s called The Story of Stuff. Anyway I’d be tickled if you’ll tell me what you think of it.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday when we’ll tackle thoughts that need to be discarded! Now there’s a challenge!





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