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We Have Too Much Stuff

Do we have too much stuff? Here are some facts from the blog Becoming Minimalist: There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times). The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR). And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Do we have too much stuff? Here are some facts from the blog Becoming Minimalist:

  1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
  3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
  4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).
  5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self-storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).
  6. 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
  7. The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).
  8. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
  9. Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
  10. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).
  1. Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).
  2. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

Yes, this list by itself is overwhelming. But it gets worse. Put in the context of what Jesus said to his disciples, those of us who have allowed our culture to sweep us along are in disobedience.

Consider the first thing Jesus said to his disciples:

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse! You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.”

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.”

“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (extracted from Matt. 6:19-33)

If you’re tempted to rationalize all that, consider another thing Jesus said:  “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word.” (John 14:23)

So here’s a question in parting: Do you need some lifestyle changes to better sync up with the life that Jesus preached?

If so, I recommend Joshua Becker’s blog. Make an inventory of your stuff. Start with your closets and move to your garage. You’ve read what Jesus said. Now, line your lifestyles up to match his words.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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