by Jasmine Stephens, Family Editor
A quick look under our bed confirms it; we’re hoarders. One dismantled cot plus mattress, two large photo-frames, a bunk-bed ladder, a bag full of old kids’ clothes, three camping chairs, a broken laptop and a bulging bin bag that has been there so long I have no idea what’s inside. Junk everywhere.
The worst thing is I’ve always been quite smug about how good I am at chucking things out. I jumped for joy when my sister told me she was pregnant; not only was I finally going to be an auntie, at last I had someone to palm off all our old baby junk. Sorry sis.
Our house is too small to cling on to long-forgotten toys and defunct technology and my husband has previously complained that things need to be nailed down if they don’t want to be chucked away. I wouldn’t be surprised if they knew me by name at the local recycling centre, but the evidence is undeniable and a quick calculation unbelievably reveals that the stuff currently stashed in every available nook and cranny would cover the floor in two bedrooms.
I take comfort, at least, in knowing I’m not alone. New research from Clearabee has revealed that families in the UK are wasting up to £75 billion in property space by storing old household items. That equates to a cost of £9,465 per household in lost property space or to put it another way, more than a third of families hoard enough junk to fill a small bedroom.
More than half of families (56%) hang on to old clothes, 54% stash old books, videos and magazines and 48% keep old toys and games. The survey revealed that families spread out their junk throughout the house; 45% use the loft (well, to be fair that’s surely what lofts are for?), 32% keep things out of sight in their wardrobe, just under a quarter stash old items under their beds and 9% have clearly just given up completely as they simply leave their junk on the floor.
Rob Linton, Operations Director at Clearabee commented, ‘In a nation where space is at a premium, it is staggering that almost one in three families are storing enough useless junk to fill an entire room. While we’ve become very savvy at finding ways to store clutter around ourselves, most of us could get better at getting rid of it.’
As well as the cost in lost property space, imagine the financial worth that could be released from all this unused and unwanted treasure by selling on eBay, donating via a charity shop or free-cycling site or simply by giving items to friends and family. Half of the problem is that in today’s consumer society, we feel an irresistible urge to surround ourselves with possessions, upgrade before really necessary and buy new when second-hand would do.
The research has given me a push to clear out my cupboards and try to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, although let’s face it, that’s easier said than done when you have kids. Anybody need a bunk-bed ladder?