Axios Finish Line

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Welcome back! Thanks for the blizzard of great questions and ideas. Keep 'em coming: [email protected].

  • Smart Brevity™ count: 482 words ... 2 mins.

1 big thing: Simplify your life

Illustration of hand pulling arrow out of mess of arrows
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're filling our lives with so much junk — clothes we'll never wear ... spare furniture ... stuff we "might use" — that the U.S. now has more self-storage facilities than McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger Kings, Starbucks and Walmarts combined.

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.

  • 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."

Time for spring cleaning, but 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.

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📊 Stunning stat

Illustration of a cornucopia with toys spilling out
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. has 3.1 % of the world's kids but buys 40% of the world's toys. Time magazine

⛽ Why gas is so high

💭 A bunch of you asked: Why are gas prices going up if the U.S. barely relies on Russian oil?

The answer: You'll pay a lot more for gas for three big reasons, Axios energy experts Ben Geman and Andrew Freedman tell us.

  1. Supply: Less oil sloshing around in an already-tight market, thanks to Russia.
  2. Demand: Driving and energy use is surging back post-COVID.
  3. Risk: War.

🔮 Be prepared: It‘s hard to see any of these trends getting better fast. Expect high gas prices for at least the next few months.

🕶️ Be aware: Oil makes up about 45% of gas prices, which is why President Biden is playing footsie with the Iranians, Saudis and Venezuelans.  They have oil. Biden wants cheaper gas. 

🧠 Be savvy: We only get 3% of our oil from Russia. BUT Europe gets 27% ... and we all tap the same global oil pool. Hence, your pain at the pump.

📬 Invite your friends to join these nightly conversations.