Mayflower 2018 Study: Minimalist Millennials Don't Want Parents' Stuff

Apr 10, 2018 -

According to the Mayflower 2018 Mover Insights Study, approximately half of millennials surveyed aren’t keeping family heirlooms to pass down to their children. But it’s not just millennials. Adults from all generations are embracing the value of decluttering through the minimalist movement by shifting away from collecting things and moving toward creating simple, stress free lives

infographic snippet - millennials less likely to pass down heirloom

Generations Defined: What Generation Are You in?

While we don’t realize it at the time, the world we encounter growing up defines our generation. World events, pop culture, technology and music all help to shape our society as a whole. Generations are simply groupings of people who are of similar ages who share common experiences, memories and even ideologies.

  • Baby Boomers
    The baby boomer generation is the one generation officially defined by the United States Census Bureau. This generation includes people born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s. Making up the largest portion of today’s population, baby boomers had a first-row seat to the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and progress in space travel. They are adventurous, ambitious and overwhelmingly consumers.

  • Generation X
    This “in-between” generation often feels forgotten. Born between the mid-1960s and around 1980, Generation X (affectionately referred to as Gen Xers) contains the original latchkey kids. They saw the rise of MTV, the fall of communism and the first personal computers. Generation X was shaped by increased independence and the political activism of their parents. Most Gen Xers are homeowners, use technology for banking and shopping and are loyal to their favorite brands.

  • Millennials
    These digital natives grew up with quickly-changing technology and gadgets. Reaching adulthood in an environment of heightened security after September 11, the millennial generation spans the years of those born between the early 1980s through the early 1990s. While the previous generation enjoyed more independence, millennials grew up more sheltered and controlled. They were busy children with busy schedules. They are now the first to adopt new technology and gear, are willing to experiment with boutique brands and love shopping for a cause.

Why Do Americans Declutter?

Most Americans agree – clutter is stressful. The 2018 Mayflower Mover Insights Study explores how the different generations view their belongings, the decluttering process and the value of family heirlooms.

Half of Americans embark on a decluttering process to relieve stress. They actually want to declutter; minimalist life thus becomes more appealing to them. The motivation to declutter varies, but the results are universal. More than 60 percent of Americans surveyed report that decluttering makes their homes feel cleaner and 50 percent say it creates a more relaxed and free environment. And who wouldn’t want to come home to that?

Common Reasons Why Americans Decide Not to Declutter

However, these feelings of wanting to live a more “minimalist” life don’t always translate into action. Most people don’t actively choose to live a cluttered life, they just put off decluttering for varying reasons. Here are a few reasons minimalism and decluttering fail to take off for most Americans: 

  • Saving things for a rainy day is a common practice among older generations. Baby boomers remember their parents saving things “just in case.” In fact, 43 percent of Americans are holding on to items they believe they may need again in the future.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle is the motto of many concerned with the environment and waste. Why throw away something that’s perfectly useful or can be repurposed in a creative way? Twenty percent of millennials are likely to refurbish or repurpose an heirloom into something new.

  • It takes too much time is the number one reason most people put off decluttering. It can feel overwhelming to start large tasks, so many people avoid them completely. According to the study, less than 40 percent of each generation will actually declutter once a year.

  • Spouses can’t agree on what goes and what stays in many American households. One-in-five American couples say they don’t declutter their lives because they don’t see eye to eye on what to keep and what to get rid of. And for the minimalist trend to work, things simply have to go!

We'll Clutter Before We Move...Maybe Not Though

Moving often highlights just how much stuff you’ve actually accumulated over the years. As you go through your cabinets and closets, you often discover things you haven’t seen in years, haven’t used in months and often never plan on using again. More than 50 percent of Americans say they’ll declutter before they move and start fresh in a new home. In fact, it’s so enticing an idea, almost one-quarter of Americans said they’d actually consider moving just to purge unnecessary things.

However, while 50 percent say they will, in reality, only 44 percent of Americans have actually decluttered during the moving process.

Millennials are most likely to move without decluttering, with 20 percent reporting they’ve moved in the past without getting rid of anything. Baby boomers turn out to be great at getting rid of things during moves. Only nine percent report having moved with every single item they own.

Minimalism Trend for Millennials: We Don't Need That!

While the idea itself has been around for years, when it comes to minimalism, 2017 really saw an uptick in terms of trendiness. Now one of the hottest designing trends for modern homes, the minimalist-declutter look features only the essentials.

But the minimalist trend isn’t just a design trend; it’s a way of life for many younger people. More millennials than any other generation consider themselves to be minimalists. Twenty-two percent of millennials report they’ve at one time or another focused on minimalist decluttering in January to begin the year clutter free (although many report that it’s not a yearly habit). Only 27 percent of millennials say they perform decluttering minimalism activities once a year, while 40 percent of baby boomers and 34 percent of Gen Xers make it a yearly tradition.

Decluttering Trends by Generation: Millennials Lead the Charge

Say what you may about the millennials of today, but one thing they aren’t is wasteful or overly-indulgent when it comes to the unnecessaries of life.

While many of the older generations muse over things millennials like, such as creative open work environments that may include pool tables in loft spaces, hanging crocheted chairs or bean bags to work on and maybe even the occasional in-office beer keg on Fridays, millennials are actually leading the way when it comes to streamlined, basic living spaces that include only the bare minimums. In fact, according to our study, 23 percent are significantly more likely to say they’re minimalists when it comes to purging things or belongings. And a whopping 34 percent of millennial males are most likely to self-proclaim themselves as minimalists.

Not Your Parents' Garage Sale: Millennials Declutter Online

Online sales services, social sites and apps are a growing trend that allow people to easily and quickly get rid of the items they no longer love. With mobile technology making it a snap, all you need to do is download an app, snap and upload a pic, type a quick description and wait for someone to purchase your item. Forty-seven percent of the Americans surveyed have used online services to help them declutter. And millennials lead this trend, with 33 percent using online sales sites to achieve decluttering and minimalism lifestyles.

Passing Down Family Heirlooms: A Thing of the Past? 

There’s long been a tradition of passing down heirlooms from one generation to another. Seventy percent of those surveyed have received an heirloom from a relative. Not surprisingly, baby boomers are slightly more likely to continue this tradition by keeping heirlooms safe for future generations. But when choosing to declutter, minimalist millennials are less likely to hold on to heirlooms for their children. Wondering who’s willing to save the most? According to our survey, the breakdown of heirloom-savers are as follows:

  • 64 percent of baby boomers save family heirlooms to pass on
  • 60 percent of Gen Xers save family heirlooms to pass on
  • 53 percent of millennials save family heirlooms to pass on

Millennials Get Creative: Repurposing Heirlooms to Reflect their Styles

Many family heirlooms reflect older décor trends that may seem out of place in modern homes. So while still implementing a minimalism trend, some millennials are finding creative ways to incorporate heirlooms into their homes. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to take the time to refurbish or repurpose a cherished heirloom into something new.

Looking to Declutter? Here are Some Helpful Tips

There are many ways to embrace the peace and relaxation that comes from decluttering your home. You may even find that the minimalism movement appeals to you. Let these 10 tips guide you through easily decluttering your home: 
  1. Create a goal: Ask yourself what it is you want. Do you need more space? Is your space hard to keep clean and dusted? Are your drawers and closets overflowing, but you still can’t find anything to wear? A goal can help create focus for your actions. It keeps you on track and working towards a reward.

  2. Start small: It can be overwhelming to think about decluttering an entire home. However, spending 15 minutes going through your junk drawer is manageable. Find a cluttered spot, set a timer and then congratulate yourself for making progress. If your end goal is to completely declutter, minimalism in small doses can help you reach it!

  3. Make a sweep: Decluttering sweeps turn getting rid of things into a game. Grab a trash bag and a giveaway bag, and work your way quickly through an area. Just grab anything you no longer need or use. For example, you don’t have to empty your entire closet or deep clean a room with this method. Spend five minutes grabbing the items you don’t use – it keeps you working towards your goal without losing your entire day to the project.

  4. Follow the 20/20 rule: This rule is a simple way to convince yourself that it’s okay not to save something for a rainy day. If it costs less than $20 and you can buy a new one in less than 20 minutes, get rid of it. You can adjust this to fit your comfort level by making it a 10/10 rule or the 5/5 guideline. The idea is to have a concrete way to judge the value of extra items.

  5. Give it a year: You aren’t likely to use an item that has been hiding away for 12 months or more. Ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve used it and if you plan on using it again. Chances are, if it hasn’t been used in a year, it really isn’t something you need.

  6. Download an app: Youdon’t have to wait for that summer garage sale season to get rid of items you want to sell. There are many apps and websites to help you sell everything from clothing to household items. Some charge a commission similar to local resale shops.

  7. Find a local charity: If you have a local donation center in your town, find a way to incorporate it into your weekly driving route. If you make a habit of dropping items off once a week, slowly but surely, you’ll begin to see change within your home.

  8. Sort the mail as it comes in: Paper clutter is the number one clutter in most homes. It’s easy to set a pile aside to deal with later. Start changing the way you process your mail by immediately walking to the trash or recycling bin. Don’t even set junk mail down…toss it! This can reduce your paper clutter drastically right from the start.|

  9. Take a picture: If you’re hanging on to heirlooms or items simply because of their emotional value – but you don’t use them, display them or like them – they are simply taking up space. Consider taking a picture of the item and creating a memory book. The emotions and memories stay the same, but you regain your lost space.

  10. Keep what you love: You don’t have to get rid of everything…decluttering isn’t about creating empty countertops and blank bookshelves. A minimalism declutter is simply removing the items that no longer have a purpose in your home. Don’t let others dictate what you keep or give away. Create a space you love by taking small steps and making simple decisions.
This study was conductor by Mayflower, America’s most recognized and trusted moving company. If you are moving long distance, our moving services have you covered. Contact Mayflower about a moving quote today.

Check out our article on why millennials choose to live simply.


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2018 Mayflower Mover Insights Study

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