7 Clutter Statistics That Will Shock You Into Buying Less Right Now

We all know the struggle of sifting through piles of items for a misplaced bill or lost library book. Clutter costs us more than we realize, and it’s not just about the money. The real cost is in lost time and peace of mind.

Every day, Americans spend an average of 55 minutes looking for lost items because they own too much stuff.

Add to that the frustration and cost of replacing missing items and it’s easy to see how clutter is stealthily draining your resources.

If you’ve got your head in the sand about the amount of stuff you own (and probably don’t use), the clutter statistics listed below should alert you to the problem.

I’ve also included suggestions for how to avoid or remedy each of the statistics. There’s no point knowing there’s a problem, you also need an action plan for fixing it!

Oh, and if the idea of shopping less bothers you, fear not. I have a genius solution that will allow you to have the things you need and want without actually buying them. (Nothing dodgy, I swear!)

Ready to make clutter a thing of the past? Let’s dive in!

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7 Shocking Clutter Stats to Blow Your Mind

These statistics will shock you, but my hope is that they’ll also shock you into action. By decluttering each of these areas you’ll find yourself with a lot more time on your hands. You’ll also be happier, less stressed, and more productive and by default, way less disorganized.

  1. We wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. —Pareto principle

Apart from taking up valuable space in our closet, the 80 percent we’re not wearing causes decision fatigue and slows us down in the morning. Take steps to simplify your wardrobe and you’ll be out the door in half the time.

  1. The number of self-storage facilities in the U.S. is more than the combined count of Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s restaurants. —Neighbour Blog

Given the country’s relationship with fast food, that number is pretty mind-blowing. Of course, there will be occasions when you need to put your belongings in a storage unit for a while. If you’re between houses, traveling, and so on.

  1. 31 percent of customers surveyed reported more satisfaction from clearing out their closet than they did after sex. —Ikea

We know that giving is better than receiving, so it follows that getting rid of stuff will make you feel good. Clutter has an annoying habit of weighing on your subconscious. The sooner you clean it up, the sooner you can turn your attention to more pressing matters, like what to wear to bed tonight.

  1. 80 percent of papers and information that we file or keep, we never use or look at again. —Agency Sales Magazine

Getting a handle on your paperwork will save you a bunch of time. How often have you needed a specific invoice, contract, etc., and spent way too long searching for it because your filing is a mess?

Find out how long you should keep your paperwork (it differs from country to country) and shred the things you no longer need. While you’re at it, make a point of moving as much of your stuff as possible online.

It’s 2023! Just about everything can be done electronically nowadays. Also, it’ll save you a ton of space and time.

  1. 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in America, yet they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally. —University of California Television network web series A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance

How much time do you spend tidying up toys at the end of the day—or worse, nagging your children to do it themselves? Downsizing the kids’ toy box is a great way to save time.

The little guys won’t be all that happy about it, but fortunately, Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist has a helpful guide for decluttering toys. (He also explains why fewer toys will actually benefit your kids.)

  1. Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in an average home. — National Soap and Detergent Association

Obviously, because cleaning a cluttered home and garage is a lot harder to do. As a minimalist, this is something I can attest to. I can clean our studio apartment from top to bottom in an hour. (Two if I’m doing a deep clean.)

Conversely, when we were professional house-sitters, cleaning was an all-day affair. The places we stayed in were generally bigger, but the real reason it took me so long to clean them was that they were so cluttered. (In retrospect I should have offered my services as a professional organizer.)

  1. The average American throws away over 81.5 lbs of clothing each year. —Earth.org

The reason for this? Fast fashion! People are buying more clothes and wearing them for a shorter period of time. Opting for slow fashion is better for the environment, the factory workers, your health, and your budget.

Buy Less, Share More, Make New Friends

rental bicycle
Photo by John Boatile on Unsplash

Instead of buying more stuff, why not give yourself the gift of space and time instead? You’ll be happier, more relaxed, and better off financially. 

Win, win, win.

Don’t worry. My goal isn’t for you to get rid of everything and move into a twelve-by-twelve cabin. That would just be silly. Or would it? Think about the time you’d save on housework.

Seriously though, it’s definitely not what I have in mind. My aim is to get you to declutter enough that you stop wasting valuable resources taking care of the stuff you don’t need, use, or even want. 

That makes sense, but what if you feel like going kayaking, taking a course in food photography, or spending the winter snowboarding? Surely you’ll have to buy equipment to make that happen?

Not necessarily. A much easier approach is to join a peer-to-peer lending site and borrow the things you need from someone in your area. 

This idea of buying less and sharing more is better for the environment and your pocket. It’s also a great way to make friends and inspire a sense of community in your neighborhood.

You may want to borrow a mountain bike for the weekend, but perhaps you also have a surfboard to lend to someone who’s heading to the beach. Think about it, your belongings could become a source of extra cash for you.

Fat Llama

Fat Llama is a UK-based lending platform that’s been around since 2016. The company has since joined forces with Hygglo, the biggest peer-to-peer rental marketplace in the Nordics.

BorrowMe

BorrowMe is a peer-to-peer lending and renting platform that connects people who own underused items with those who need them temporarily. They’re currently servicing the UAE but have plans to expand to the rest of the GCC countries in the future.

Stuff4Hire

Stuff4Hire is a social networking platform that brings borrowers and lenders together. If you’re based in New York and surrounds you could find what you’re looking for here.

Library of Things

Libraries of Things are popping up all over the UK. The Ethical put together a directory of LOT outlets along with a brief outline of what a library of things is and how they work.

OpenLibrary.org

If you love reading but can’t get to a library, or maybe your library doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, OpenLibrary.org is worth checking out.

The Human Library

While not exactly in the same vein as the examples above, I couldn’t resist including this here because, well, how cool!? Here’s how it works.

At the Human Library, the books are people! Just like a regular library, you check out a “book” about something that interests you and you have a certain amount of time to “read” it.

People volunteer to become “books” to share their experiences. These are usually topics and issues most of us would like to learn more about but don’t feel comfortable asking. With a tagline like “unjudge me,” wouldn’t you love to try it? Read more about it on Upworthy.

Wrapping Up: Where to From Here?

Wooden letter blocks spelling keep things simple
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

And there you have it! Seven mind-boggling clutter statistics that hopefully nudged you into embracing a less cluttered lifestyle.

The peer-to-peer lending platforms outlined above offer a viable alternative to buying more. Each item you choose to borrow rather than purchase saves you money and space, minimizing your clutter footprint.

Decluttering may seem daunting at first, but remember, it’s not a sprint but a marathon. Start small, recognize your victories, and gradually move towards a more minimalist lifestyle. In the process, you’ll find it’s not just about having less but gaining more – peace, time, and joy.

Trust the process; the rewards are plenty. Roll up those sleeves and venture into a world with less clutter and more life. Happy decluttering!

Clutter Statistics FAQs

How many people struggle with clutter?

It’s difficult to track exact numbers due to the subjective nature of what constitutes ‘clutter’, but it’s estimated that a majority of households in developed countries have some degree of clutter. This is backed by a UCLA study that found the majority of middle-class American families have a clutter problem.

What are the three types of clutter?

The three types of clutter are physical clutter, digital clutter, and emotional clutter. Physical clutter refers to the excess items we accumulate in our physical space. Digital clutter is the overload of information and files in our digital spaces, like emails, documents, photos, etc. Emotional clutter refers to the mental and emotional baggage that we carry around, such as stress, resentment, fear, and other negative emotions. 

How much does clutter affect you?

Clutter can have a significant impact on our mental and physical well-being. It can make your stress levels skyrocket, exacerbate anxiety, and even cause depression. It can also make it difficult for us to focus, be productive, and feel relaxed in our own spaces.

Furthermore, clutter can lead to wasted time and money as we struggle to find and manage our belongings. In extreme cases, too much clutter can even pose physical health risks, such as tripping hazards and fire risks. 

How common is clutter?

Clutter is quite common, and its prevalence often varies depending on cultural standards, individual habits, and societal norms. It’s estimated that 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by clutter and 77% of UK adults say they lack sufficient storage space at home.

In Australia, one study showed that an estimated 88% of Australians admit to having a room in their house they cannot use due to clutter. These statistics underscore that clutter is a global issue.