Updated Mar 12, 2022 - Economy

How to simplify your life — and get rid of your stuff

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're filling our lives with so much junk that the U.S. now has more self-storage facilities than McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger Kings, Starbucks and Walmarts combined. That's around 50,000 storage complexes.

Why it matters: We're overstuffed. And all that stuff often brings a lot more stress than joy.

The big picture: Never in history have so many things been affordable for so many. Never in history has it been easier to swipe a card or click a button and wait for the Amazon truck to arrive. And never in history have Americans had bigger houses — or storage sheds — to keep it all.

Here's a stunning stat: The U.S. has 3.1% of the world's kids but buys 40% of the world's toys, per Time magazine.

  • Anthony Graesch, an anthropologist at Connecticut College who studies why we have so much stuff, tells us: "I see the proliferation of self-storage in the United States as the materialization of excessive, unchecked and unsustainable levels of consumption."
  • He said it's "also the difficulty we experience in easily severing relationships with many of our possessions."

The bottom line: Don't just throw it all out. There are dozens of ways to sell or donate your stuff.

Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant and author who popularized her minimalist KonMari method of tidying up on Netflix, puts it like this:

"It's a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially 'detox' our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well."

🏁 Editor's note: This article was first written for the launch edition of Axios Finish Line, which is part of the Axios Daily Essentials newsletter package. It originally published on March 9.

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