The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting article on the study of clutter by the Australia Institute. The study found that women find clutter more distressing and are much more embarrassed by clutter than their male counterparts. The study also found that nine out of 10 Australians have at least one cluttered room in their home and the average home has three or more cluttered rooms.
The article also does a great job of categorizing clutter. From the article:
The items that constitute clutter are extremely varied and depend on the circumstances and personalities in each household. And there are several different categories of clutter, depending on the nature of a person’s “attachment”‘ to things, our research showed.
Emotional clutter has sentimental meaning but little financial value. It could include children’s toys or drawings, unused or unwanted gifts, school or university notes, or the personal possessions of absent loved ones.
Just-in-case clutter has little or no sentimental value but since it “might come in handy one day” it is kept for some time. Examples include old bills or bank statements, tools or stationery.
Bargain clutter is free or very cheap items acquired at sales, from friends or family or “by the side of the road”. Certain personality types tend to be especially attracted to bargain clutter.
Bought clutter consists of impulse purchases that never end up being used. It commonly includes clothes, fashion accessories and electronic items and is strongly linked to wasteful consumption.
I’ve always assumed that Americans were above and beyond everyone else in the clutter department, but this study shows that our friends down under also struggle with clutter. I’m not entirely sure what the statistics are for the average American household, but I’d venture to guess that our clutter problem is a bit higher. Again, that’s just a guess.
The article also goes on to offer a point of reflection useful for us all:
The alternative to cluttering up our homes is simply to avoid acquiring unwanted or useless items in the first place. Among other things, this requires a more conscious approach to shopping: buying what we really need and will use.
It also requires a healthy skepticism towards commercial messages trying to convince us to buy things that we don’t really want. If we follow these principles, perhaps we can reclaim our homes.