One inevitable consequence of living longer is the perfectly natural human tendency to accumulate ‘stuff’. While the trait is as old as mankind it is only in the last 50 years that the quantity of possessions accumulated has become a serious issue as a number of different trends have aligned to create a Perfect Storm of possessions. These include:

In the last 50 years global human life expectancy has increased 50% – and those extra years are precisely the part of life where we acquire most possessions

People from the war generation experienced austerity and shortages in their youth and this resulted in a tendency to hold on to everything ‘Just in case’

Global marketing promoted fashion trends with consumers being encouraged to part with perfectly good items in order to own the latest trend – famously IKEA encouraged us all to ‘Chuck out you Chintz’. Today this is called ‘fast fashion’.

Manufacturers added to the trend by designing in ‘built in obsolescence’

A lack of storage space in modern homes is no issue thanks to the rapid growth of self storage. Now you can pay good money to store items you clearly don’t need!

What can you do?

To contain the situation it’s important to have in place an ongoing programme of divestment. In essence passing on items you no longer need. This can be a challenge as you seek to overcome human nature including holding on:

• Just in case
• It might still be useful
• It was expensive (so it must be valuable!)
• It’s too good to throw out
• Someone will want it

As we become increasingly environmentally aware there are new trends emerging including:

• Bamboo – fast growing and biodegradable bamboo is being used as an ethical replacement for plastic
• The cyclical economy – where we hired what we need and hand it back for re-use or recycling
• Reparation – seeking to undo the excesses of the last 50 years – removing plastic from our oceans, digging up and recycling land fill.
• Managing resources sustainably.

Between 1800 and 2050 the world population will have increased 10 fold. Our planet is no bigger so inevitably we need to consider what we do with our stuff.