BY JOSH SANBURN
When the Amazon packages arrive at her door, Dana Harvey experiences one of two feelings: Ecstasy or Nausea. Harvey, 54, is a family therapist in Los Angeles who also practices another kind of therapy–retail.
She readily admits to indulging in those fleeting moments of joy that come from purchasing. But Harvey also realized the moments were piling up all around her. Her 8-ft.-long pine dining table soon disappeared under mountains of clothes, purses and books. She began making excuses about why her house was a wreck. Eventually she stopped having friends over. She was too embarrassed.
Last year, Harvey hired a professional organizer to help her get her things in order and curb her spending. Together, they threw out or donated bags and bags of shoes, scarves, jewelry, hats, appliances, stuffed animals and unused makeup. Some items still had their tags attached. Today, more often than not, Harvey can find a place for the possessions she decided to keep. She often includes “Clear 10 Things” on her daily to-do list. Her home is less cluttered. Her friends stop by more. Her dining table is a table again. But as spring arrives, she still feels the pull of her iPad, the seasonal clothes and deals just waiting for her online.
For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.
Continue reading… “America’s Clutter Problem”