A material thought on how we accumulate.

How does our consumption vary with living space variation?

Jason Berton
May 28, 2014 · 4 min read

Our culture is driven by consumerism, I accept this. We strive for better living, and marketers often present this ideal by showcasing benefits to owning more goods and living space. So much so, that I received a marketing doorhanger this week for a new business called Roost. They advertise as the share economy of storage. Roost is a service that allows you to rent free space in your house to others looking for storage space. The realization that an entrepreneur felt compelled that we have a societal need to create Roost prompted my mind to think deeper into why and how we own things. This post is not about how I feel about Roost, I simply recognize its beginning as a topical treatment to a current symptom.

The act of spring cleaning or purging is very cathartic, I have always enjoyed the experience. I usually stumble across forgotten photos or knick knacks attached to a cherished moment. After I find a new home for jettisoned possesions, my home is noticeably more fresh and spacious. During the process, I usually connect with people to sell or barter my things and it builds an improved sense of community. Lastly, the appearance of the new extra space in my closet and rooms excites reason for America’s favorite therapy; retail therapy! Everyone likes getting something new to cherish, it is habitualized in our nature.

On the idea of nature, and the ironic name of the start up called Roost. I thought about animals and nesting, and the various styles of homes between species. And then I considered the concept of shared genetic data between species to seemingly arrive at a sensical reason to better realize the different nesting styles of humans. I consider human nesting(home design) on a style spectrum from minimalism to compressed harmony. And I choose not to bias any style over the other. Though I wonder if an individual’s style preference is static, and if yes, let’s consider a metric of possessions per cubic foot. So, if nesting style is static per individual, how would the possession per cubic foot ratio change if you were to change the size of said individual’s space. For example, would a minimalist that has everything they need in 1000 sq ft dwelling buy more possessions if they were relocated to a space of 1400 sq ft? I would love to see insights on this if they exist.

I love my material possessions, a few much more than most. I also realize there is a maintenance cost to everything I own. And if I decide to outsource the maintenance work, I still have to pay attention to scheduling it. Some people are lucky enough to afford a house manager, though that is very fraction of the 1%. Therefore, if each possession requires some form of maintenance, and maintenance at the very least demands attention, then with each new possession accumulated, more attention must be allocated. I will always have a similar amount of attention between sleeps, unlike my bank account, which has a potential to grow exponentially. (even if I expired) As I have sharpened my recognition of attention(time) as the most valuable and predictably stable resource I can readily control, the allocation of attention becomes much more strategic.

What do you consider a valuable use of your time?

Personally, the maintenance of non value producing possessions no longer appeals to me. Hence, the more I own, the more I am committed to maintaining it, unless I decide to purchase disposable products. Though we are quickly learning the environmental costs to disposable consumer behaviour.

The moral of this post is to recognize that while we all have different styles of how we construct our home and environment, it is important to consider what measure of possessions are optimal and why. I think the best strategy is to consider which possession’s are truly tools to express your life’s purpose, and then recognize the extraneous possessions. Once recognized, personally decide how to manage said extraneous possessions. As the share economy progresses, I am happy to own less and instead have frivolous possessions available on demand. I am actively transitioning to a more lightweight lifestyle with a preference to greater access to better allocate my attention more often. This strategy promotes possibility to indulge in greater human experience through peer connection, imaginative activities, and other vivacious experiences.

    Jason Berton

    Written by

    I strive to leave things better than I stumbled upon them. Lead with love, and stay generous and connected to nature.