Thanks to Karen for alerting me to this People article.
Gotta love People magazine for boiling down a book into a few points.
The book Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Families Open their Doors examines modern American families through the lens of household material culture – the things we own and the ways we use our home. People magazine had a very short piece on the book titled “The Clutter Problem” a few weeks ago. Couldn’t find a link to the article but have a picture of it above from the Rookie Moms website – thanks Rookie Moms!
I’m fascinated by this book because it was the same one referenced in the New Yorker article on Spoiled Children that was the inspiration for Amy’s guest post on unspoiling your children. I looked through the preview pages on Amazon and a few of the chapter headings jumped out at me:
- Material Saturation: Mountains of Possessions
- Vanishing Leisure
- Plugged In
From reviews and descriptions the book appears to be more academic in nature but includes coffee table worthy photos documenting modern American homes. I’m intrigued but not quite ready to pull the trigger on buying it. Maybe it will show up in our local library.
What really jumped out for me in the People summary is the statistic on toy consumption.
America has 3.1% of the world’s children but buys 40% of the world’s toys.
Yikes. I read that and instantly felt some guilt about our recent toy purchases: a Melissa & Doug instrument set, a Bob the Builder home and a puzzle. Did we really need it? Couldn’t I have fashioned some new toys or instruments out of recycled yogourt containers, cardboard and homemade glue?
Of course, I then countered with surely we are not in the same bracket as the 3%? We have a lot less toys than the average family we know.
Living with less is a negotiation. The longer we’re on this journey the longer I see that for us it’s not about absolutes, it’s about trying. Our new home is a bit bigger than we’re used to but it was a great fit for us for reasons above and beyond the square footage. I try and keep our son’s toys limited to two boxes and his train table and I try and buy used when I can. I try to find ways that living with less works for us instead of comparing ourselves to others.
Does that toy statistic shock you? Do you think that of the 3% it might be a lot smaller percentage that actually has most of those toys? I’m interested to hear from American families on this. Is it really more like 1% of the world’s children have 35% of the world’s toys?