The Love of Storage Units is the Root of All Evil

Open hands, open heart.

You know what’s wrong with this country today? Storage units. Get rid of all the storage units and you will eliminate everything that is wrong with the American soul. You’re welcome.

Check this out: The self-storage industry is primarily a US-based industry. Of the 58,000 storage facilities worldwide in 2009, 46,000 were located in the United States. In 2007, the US self-storage market was nearly $6.6 billion.

Six and a half billion dollars, y’all. Six and a half billion dollars spent to store the shit we don’t use but can’t bear to part with. Honestly, that is a coast-to-coast feng shui nightmare. Our national chi is so blocked it’s no wonder we are bogged down with so much negative energy.

Okay, I admit there might be occasions (like preserving your great-grandmother’s button hook collection, the getting rid of which would bring down the wrath of your ancestors upon your head) but otherwise, this is over SIX BILLION DOLLARS a year spent on socially acceptable hoarding.

According to The Endowment for Human Development, a stack of one billion dollar bills would measure 67.9 miles high. That means, at 6.6 times that amount, what we spend on storage units would stretch from St. Louis to Toledo.

Why do we keep things instead of get rid of them? Because we might need them some day? They might come in handy? I don’t think so. That’s what we tell ourselves. But I think the real reason we hang onto everything from clothes to corkscrews to cars? It’s fear. We fear that we don’t have enough, and we fear that we are not enough. We would rather hoard things we do not need or want than run the risk of dying without stuff.

This past March, of necessity, I faced my mortality in the form of an alarming and crushing quantity of belongings. I’m not even kidding: crushing. It was like Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault where every time I grabbed one thing it turned into 10 things. Who the hell bewitched my stuff when I wasn’t looking? (See my Lenten post for a chilling picture of just the glassware.)

Thankfully—mercifully—we secured our release from the burden by consigning or donating something like 60% of what we owned. The experience was a sacrament. God, it was freeing.

Stuff won’t save me. I am going to die anyway. I have enough, and I am enough. I choose open hands and an open heart.  Giving stuff to someone who could use it, sharing what I have, that’s the way. Also I keep thinking about the good that could be done with that $6.6 billion.

Only open hands can receive the sacrament of the Body of Christ. Jesus said, among other things: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Totally into feng shui, was Jesus.

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a. I only recently heard about Kon Mari, which turns out is not to be the front man for a rock band. It’s a thing. A method for getting rid of clutter.

b. The good news is that the resale industry, according to the awesomely acronymed NARTS, pulls in about $12 billion per year: twice what the storage industry does. So that’s cool.


4 thoughts on “The Love of Storage Units is the Root of All Evil

  1. Just what I needed to read before I begin moving to New Zealand. I recently read an article about a Japanese woman whose book about decluttering one’s house has sold 2 million copies. Her basic premise is to keep only that which brings you joy. I’m going to use that as my standard as I sort through 5 generations of items, many of which bring me joy, but some of which are just heavy. Maybe they’ll bring joy to someone else.

  2. Reblogged this on The Outside Lane and commented:
    Take a look at Cathy’s blog today. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

    ” I think the real reason we hang onto everything from clothes to corkscrews to cars? It’s fear. We fear that we don’t have enough, and we fear that we are not enough.”

  3. Loved this so much! Truth. Except, you know, about guitars. One can never have enough guitars.

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