In 2012 a group of archeologists, anthropologists and other scientists began a four year study on 32 middle-class families in the United States. Its goal is to observe how families use their built environments and relate to the material goods they own.
Some of the findings from the study were published in the book “Life At Home In The Twenty-first Century“. They are surprising, if not a little troubling. See if you and your humble abode can relate with any of the following discoveries:
- 75% of the families didn’t keep their car in the garage because it was already full of boxes and “spillover” items from the house
- A family’s overall possessions increased by a whopping 30% with the addition of a new child, during the preschool years alone
- The more magnets, pictures and schedules attached to the front of the family’s refrigerator, the fuller the house
These spotlights on Western culture’s hyperconsumerism suggest we as North American’s are manufacturing and buying too much stuff we don’t need or even want. This junk is stressing us out and crowding us out of our living spaces.
More than ever, it’s essential to look at the bigger picture, and I don’t mean buying a big screen plasma TV for the rec room either. The things we make and the things we buy need to matter because they are having a profound effect on our families, our culture, and on the planet.
Think of it this way. In a 2009 psychological study, researchers found in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions. Experiences and not shiny new objects provide happy memories that can last a lifetime.
It’s not like we can take any of the stuff with us when we die anyway.
There is a multi-part video on the book on YouTube. Here is the first episode.
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