Aspen Ideas Reporters Notebook: That’s a lot of stuff |

Aspen Ideas Reporters Notebook: That’s a lot of stuff

Staff report
Aspen Ideas Festival 2019 runs from June 23 to 29.
Ian Wagreich/Aspen Institute

However unlikely as it seems, people living in New York City share some of the same struggles as Aspenites and often end up turning to the same place to solve those problems: Amazon.

Whether it’s looking for a place to buy paper products in bulk (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) or trying to find a place to purchase clothes hangers, Amazon seems to be the quick fix answer to all the consumer dilemmas that we face.

But is it really so easy? And is it truly solving our problems, or is it adding to our anxiety and habit of accumulating a magnitude of stuff?

The Atlantic writer Amanda Mull set out to investigate this problem and try to answer the question of “When did we all get too much stuff?” in her aptly titled article “There is too much stuff,” which she discussed Tuesday at Aspen Ideas Festival.

The idea for the article was born from Mull realizing that she and others in her New York apartment building often would peruse the piles of Amazon boxes in the lobby just to see if they “forgot to expect something.”

“If you can’t remember if you’ve bought something or not enough that you’re just are rifling through random boxes, then something has gone array with the shopping process, with the consumer market, with how we fundamentally interact with buying toilet papers and hangers or whatever,” Mull said.

She then started digging a little deeper to determine “what the change was in how much stuff is available and how stuff is sold,” and found that there has been one.

Mull discovered that in the past 10 years there has been a 75% increase in global manufacturing.

But with the increase in products on the market, there has started to be a shift in consumers’ mindsets and a general “fatigue” about having a large amount of stuff in one’s life, hence the increase in popularity of the KonMarie method and trend of minimalism.

Mull said she believes the Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z populations are the reason for this change as a “response to growing up in homes where we constantly had a lot of stuff … and I think there is a sense across socio-economic strata that you are just trying to find a better way to deal with that.”

— Rose Anna Laudicina

The president and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods said the retailer’s decision to stop selling assault-style weapons cost it $250 million in revenue, but it was worth every penny.

“We have no regrets whatsoever,” Ed Stack told interviewer Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, on Tuesday in the Greenwald Pavilion. “We decided if we had a mulligan to do it all over again, we’d do it all over again.”

The Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-sporting equipment chain’s decision came after a gunman murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. Dick’s pulled the weapons from its Field and Stream stores, having cleared the same style guns from the shelves of its namesake stores after the December 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Dick’s also stopped selling guns to people younger than 21.

The chain lost business from customers who opposed the tightened regulations. They continue to avoid the store, Stack said. Customers who supported the store at the time it announced it changes have mostly forgotten about them.

“Love is fleeting; hate is forever,” he said. “We felt it.”

— Rick Carroll