Storing stuff extends to students


University of Kentucky student Shannon Frazer, pictured in the Kernel office on 10/14/09. Photo by Ed Matthews

Column by Shannon Frazer. E-mail [email protected]

Americans have a lot of stuff.

We buy stuff, we keep stuff and we throw stuff away. But, for the most part, we keep stuff. And oftentimes we keep more than we have room for, which can lead to the practice of hoarding.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America defines hoarding as “the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching and saving of items that have little or no value.”

It’s a real, diagnosable condition that today’s materialistic society has facilitated.

Case in point, in 2002 the U.S. Census Bureau reported there were approximately 12,700 warehousing and storage establishments in the U.S. Kentucky alone had 198 establishments in 2002 for this purpose.

According to, the official website for the national non-profit Self Storage Association, “There are 7.0 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation; thus it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing.”

With all that space set aside so we can store our stuff, it’s no wonder college students are utilizing their allotted 7.0 square feet, and then some.

Step into dorm rooms across the country and the confined spaces make it even more evident that hoarding has become a commonplace behavior. Many dorm rooms, in essence, have been converted into storage facilities by students.

College students receive dozens of freebies, especially in the first few weeks of a semester, and it continues to accumulate for the rest of the school year. Particularly for those students who don’t go back home very often to drop off that newly-acquired excess or don’t have the discernment to immediately throw away what they won’t use, stuff can pile up.

No major studies have been conducted on hoarding behavior found solely in college students, but the growing concern needs to be addressed on campuses.

Last week on the John Tesh Radio Show, Tesh said that the average American has over $5,000 worth of stuff in his house that he doesn’t use. Just think of all the junk that piles up in dorm rooms.

And while it’s unlikely that many students let it get too out of hand, I cringe at the thought of what some resident advisers and landlords walk into when they pay residents a visit.

I just hope that in the moldable years of college, students won’t let their stuff get the best of them.

Currently the warehousing and storage industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. commercial real estate industry, per SSA. Total revenue in the U.S. for warehousing and storage was more than $16 billion in 2002 and $250,000 revenue in Kentucky.

Just think, one of the most prosperous businesses thrives today for the sole purpose of storing our stuff so we don’t have to.

The SSA already has had a 35-year commitment to providing facilities to store our stuff, but I challenge our generation to counter that. Don’t let our children view us as the new age of packrats.

That starts by re-evaluating priorities and determining what among all of our stuff is actually worth keeping, beginning as early as the college years.