We know that kids bring a whole lot of crap in their wake, but still this tidbit from the new book Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century startled me:
Each new child in a household leads to a 30 percent increase in a family’s inventory of possessions during the preschool years alone.
Elizabeth Kolbert discusses the book in her latest piece in The New Yorker, about spoiled American kids:
Lavishly illustrated with photographs (by Enzo Ragazzini) of the families’ houses and yards, the book [Life at Home] offers an intimate glimpse into the crap-strewn core of American culture.
“After a few short years,” the text notes, many families amass more objects “than their houses can hold.” The result is garages given over to old furniture and unused sports equipment, home offices given over to boxes of stuff that haven’t yet been stuck in the garage, and, in one particularly jam-packed house, a shower stall given over to storing dirty laundry.
Children, according to “Life at Home,” are disproportionate generators of clutter … Many of the kids’ rooms pictured are so crowded with clothes and toys, so many of which have been tossed on the floor, that there is no path to the bed. (One little girl’s room contains, by the authors’ count, two hundred and forty-eight dolls, including a hundred and sixty-five Beanie Babies.) The kids’ possessions, not to mention their dioramas and their T-ball trophies, spill out into other rooms, giving the houses what the authors call “a very child-centered look.”
Kolbert adds a bit of her own color:
With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. … they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.)
Yet another reminder of the myriad ways in which childfree living is lighter on the environment — not to mention cheaper, cleaner, and so much more aesthetically pleasing.