According to the Self Storage Association of America there are now enough square feet (2.3 billion) of storage units in the United States that every American could stand under the storage canopy to take shelter from a rain storm at the same time. Further, it is estimated that close to ten percent of all american households now rent storage spaces separate from their primary residence. These are storage spaces needed in addition to closets, bedrooms, attics, basements and garages which if you look around the typical home are already full to bursting with stuff, DVDs, throw pillows, plastic toys, old books and magazines, out of date technology, and piles and pile of clothes. The storage facilities sit along highways and in urban centers like great monolithic tributes to consumerism. They are expensive and by all accounts rarely accessed by the average renter. More than that, they betray our cultural lack of self control and our collective inability to gain a sense of perspective or proportion and while the industry saw a small (2-3 percent) contraction during the great recession, self storage in the United States is considered to be a no-lose proposition for investors. The irony of what could be low-income housing units serving as storage for what should be being reused or resold at the local St.Vinnie's does not appear to occur to the average American, or at least it does not stop them. Nor does the simple economics of buying less and eliminating a substantial monthly bill as a means towards some much-needed fiscal stability in the average American household.
My observation is that Americans rely on the acquisition of possessions to validate themselves and establish their status in society. I think though, that in the long run our possessions begin to weigh us down and pin us to a particular place and way of life. In the era of waning resources it is time to start purging our excess, and our storage units with their movie posters, old alarm clocks and piles of old clothes is a great place to start.