During the Stone Age, Homo habilis apparently created and used tools. It could be argued that this was the beginning of man’s affinity for stuff. Tools were, and are, valuable and worth carting around from place to place. Speaking of carting, it’s stuff that was the impetus behind the invention of the wheel in the late Neolithic era. Wheels were used to make pottery — ahem, more stuff — and to build horse-driven chariots to carry stuff.
While tools and wheels are pretty fundamental items, many of the things we purchase today are not as necessary. At Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012, we showed Living Tiny, a film about downsizing living spaces. In it, one character says, “ People like having lots of stuff, Americans in particular. Ultimately, you can only occupy 12 square feet of space at a time. Everything else is just a place to keep your stuff.”