In 2004, Morgan Spurlock, an independent filmmaker, directed the somewhat “shocking” documentary, Supersize Me. The film was a virtual expose on an American ideology that is so set in our veins (literally and figuratively), that it’s become synonymous with America. That idea: bigger is better.
Supersize Me called Americans, and American food corporations, to repentance as it explored our hunger for not only unhealthy food choices, but, for more and more and more of it.
And for his creativity, we thank Mr. Spurlock. Who else would willingly eat McDonalds around the clock for 30 straight days?
About a decade later, we are pleased to report that some McDonalds cup sizes have shrunk.
But pretty much everything else we Americans consume, continues to grow; what we drive (that third-row is a ‘must’), what we eat (footlong sub, anyone?), what we drink (yum…64 ounces of Coke) and where we live (McMansions).
In fact, CNN reports from the Census Bureau that the average size of homes built in 2013 hit 2,600 square feet, an all-time high. That square footage surpassed even the housing bubble years, when homes averaged around 2,400 square feet.
To add some perspective to this, in 1983, the average home size was 1,725 square feet. Lucky us, that extra 875 square feet sure makes for a nice great room.
And, after all, it makes sense that home sizes increase because family size is also growing, right? Well, no, actually. In 2013, the average American household was made up of 2.54 people. That number in 1983: 2.73 people per household.
Still, a growth of 0.09 people per household doesn’t seem like that big of a difference. I mean, 0.09 people? That’s not even a tenth of a whole person.
But, times that ‘tenth-of-a-person’ over a population. In a city of 100,000, and that’s 10,000 people. In a city of 1,000,000, that’s 100,000 people. You get the picture.
Point being: we have fewer people living in bigger houses.
But, we being true Americans, are yet unsatisfied with our larger homes and smaller households. Thus enters the rapid expansion of the self storage industry. Born in the 1970s, according to the Self Storage Association, the industry collects $24 billion in revenue.
The good news: if you find yourself in that bind of just-not-having-enough-space for your Christmas decorations, expanding wardrobe or baseball card collection, rest easy. In this great country, there is a total self storage capacity of about 21 square feet per household.
So, go ahead. Fill your cart at the dollar aisle in Target. Just don’t eat a Big Mac.