Americans and Clutter – We have a lot of stuff

by | Aug 16, 2017


We Americans love to buy stuff.  We are consummate consumers.  Here are some very interesting stats about our stuff.

  • There are 300,000 items in the average American home!
  • In 1950 the average size of a home in the U.S. was 983 sq. ft.  In 2011 it was 2,480.
  • Americans spend nearly $25 billion on storage units. One in 10 Americans use offsite storage.
  • 25% of people with two car garages cannot park any cars inside and another 32% can only squeeze in one vehicle..
  • 3.7% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 47% of the toys and children’s books globally
  • 54% of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter and 78% have no idea what to do with it.
  • The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine.
  • We wear 20 % of the clothes we own 80% of the time.
  • Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education
  • Non-Essential Items: A study from the Commerce Department in 2011 found U.S. consumers spent an annualized $1.2 trillion on non-essential stuff including pleasure boats, jewelry, booze, gambling and candy. That’s 11.2% of total consumer spending, up from 9.3% a decade earlier and only 4% in 1959, adjusted for inflation.
  • This is a fun study: 1397 people asked “How long would it take you to get your house ready for dinner guests”, gave these answers:  65% said 4 hours or less, 11% said they would never invite anyone inside, 10% said 8 hours, 7% said 24 hours and 6% said 40 or more hours.

UCLA researchers say  accumulating bigger piles of stuff may in fact decrease happiness and increase stress.

A few years ago photographer Peter Menzel traveled the world and took pictures of the average family in each location with all their “stuff.”  It’s quite interesting. The photo at the top of the page is from his collection. Here’s a link to this project with some of the pictures:


1 Comment

  1. The amount of stuff most of us have is undoubtedly embarrassing for most of us. I built a new barn and you guessed it – overflow items from the house and garage are making their way to the barn. I even have some stuff in one of the horse stalls – surely I will address that problem before winter?


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