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Americans are drowning in more unnecessary “stuff” than ever before, and it’s literally making us sick. So concludes Buried: The State of Stress and Stuff, a new study published on Monday that casts a gimlet eye at a nation caught in a state of chronic clutter and the unnecessary anxiety it provokes. Nothing in the research is particularly surprising. Conducted by ClearVoice Research and commissioned by OfferUp, a mobile marketplace that traffics in used goods, the poll of more than 1,300 adults reveals that most Americans consider themselves burdened with material objects they no longer want nor need. In fact, more than half of respondents described their homes as cluttered. One in seven even confessed to having a room so teeming with junk that it’s essentially dead space.
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TYRANNY OF THINGS
At the same time, 84 percent of those surveyed said they have financial concerns, while 46 percent admitted to struggling with paying off household expenses on time every month. Of the people polled, 32 percent said they’re stressed about medical expenses. Another 24 percent cited holiday and birthday gifts as a budgetary concern. Many worried about their lack of emergency and retirement savings.
One in seven survey respondents confessed to having a room so teeming with junk that it’s essentially dead space.
Collette Shine, owner of Organize and Shine, and president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, said it’s clear that Americans have a dysfunctional relationship with things. We can’t seem to stop accumulating even if it’s causes us psychological and financial pain.
“People have a hard time decluttering for a lot of reasons—such as an underlying emotional attachment or because the process is simply too overwhelming,” she said in a statement. “But that needs to change, especially as many face financial pressures.”
So why do we keep consuming? Blame everyone’s desire to keep up with the Joneses and their “curated lifestyles.” Fifteen percent of Americans worry that not having the “right brands” will hurt their children’s standing among their peers. And although 40 percent of those polled said they believed they are less financially secure than most of their friends, at least 12 percent splash out on brand-new swag for their kids because they don’t want to be thought of as poor.
The good news, according to Nick Huzar, co-founder and CEO of OfferUp, is that selling unwanted things can bring some peace of mind—and some cash.
“We found that almost half of Americans think they have more than $1,000 in unused items sitting around their homes,” he said. “Many Americans are simply not taking advantage of the hidden value that is right there in front of them.”
“KonMari” your heart out, but disengaging our personal identities from our possessions—and opting out of today’s culture of competitive acquisition—is an even better start.