Got Storage?

I live in Chandler, Arizona…home of cacti, dust storms, and unused material goods. No joke. In my community, there is a gross overabundance of self-storage companies. Within a couple blocks of Warner and Arizona Ave, there are six, yes, SIX, places to stash your stuff! If you view the Google map search below, you can see for yourself that I am not kidding.

Need I give any more proof that people (myself included) have too much junk in their lives? It is so easy to accumulate things. We are trained to do that by big businesses, politicians and economists. Recession? Not a problem. The solution: buy, Buy, BUY!

That’s right folks! This latest and greatest gizmo can help you keep up with the Joneses better than ever before. You’ll be the coolest kid on the block, AND you’ll help bring back a booming economy! Not to mention, this glitzy gadget is customizable. You can express your individuality with twelve cool colors. This is limited time offer, so act now while supplies last. 

Anyway, the reason I want to focus on storage units is that I think they could be a symptom of a bigger underlying problem. The middle class is disappearing. People are finding it harder and harder to “get ahead.” Why? I think one reason is that there is always something new to buy.

Companies have convinced us that we need what they have. This has turned us into a nation of workaholics. So, our insatiable appetite for stuff has driven us to spend less time with loved ones and more time at work. Rather than building more meaningful relationships with people, we worry about making ends meet, and many of us forget to really live. Inanimate objects have taken the place of real connections. Still, even with all those extra hours, many people spend everything they make each month. And for what? Last year’s coveted stuff just ends up in a storage unit somewhere, collecting dust.

The wealth of storage units in my community has made me think about everything I own. I know I “can’t take it with me”, so why is it so hard to let most of it go? Before I really started this tiny house journey with my wife, I was pretty convinced that it would be easy to dump my stuff. However, I now realize that paring down will be more of a challenge than I thought.

To start the process of cleaning house, I turned to a TED talk. The speaker in the talk showed a quick way to narrow down the things one should keep. First, pack all of your possessions into well-labeled boxes. Then, over the course of 3 weeks, only open the boxes that contain the things you need. Remove those things from the boxes. At the end of the 3 weeks, donate or sell all the unused stuff that remains in the boxes. Would I do that? Not a chance! Still, this scenario helps to show me that I have many things, which I really don’t need. It helped me realize how the stuff people own ends up owning them.

Another way to downsize one’s possessions is to make a list of 100 or 200 things. Everything you plan to keep should go on the list: socks, shoes, books, gizmos, and so on. Surprisingly, the list grows pretty fast.

If you had to narrow down your possessions to a list of 200 things could you do it? If so, what would you choose and why?