When I was in elementary school, the bathroom had toilet paper on the roll, a bar of soap on or near the sink, maybe toothbrushes and a reusable cup there too for brushing your teeth, another bar of soap plus shampoo and optional conditioner in the shower, bath and hand towels, bath mat, and random stuff in the medicine cabinet.
Now people hoard so much extra crap that they need extra shelves, stands, cabinets, etc., to organize it all. Usually it's just a bunch of near-empty containers, or stuff they never use. And all of a personal indulgence nature -- body gel for the shower, a separate facial cleanser, exfoliator, cotton balls, q-tips, moisturizers, candles, fragrances, just all kinds of pointless crap that they never use or get any enjoyment from. Girls are way worse about hoarding bath-related crud, but guys these days still have their fair share of stuff they're stockpiling "just in case."
And yet, it's so rare to find basic first-aid stuff anymore. Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin... good luck finding band-aids in someone's bathroom. Who needs those when you need to make room for more never-to-be-used bottles for cleansers, toners, moisturizers, etc.?
I still remember this one time during my freshman year of college, probably spring of 2000, when a girl I knew down the hall came frantically to my door. She'd cut her finger on the edge of a discarded can lid that she hadn't seen while putting something in the trash can. It was a decent slice, though nothing gory -- but still something that needed basic first-aid. All that junk that college girls brought with them and stocked up on at the Container Store and Bed, Bath, and Beyond -- but no first-aid supplies.
Good thing she came to me. She'd already washed it with soap, so I swabbed some hydrogen peroxide on with a q-tip, I can't remember if I had an anti-inflammatory gel to put on afterward, flipped through the box of band-aids next to my sink for the right size, and wrapped her sliced-open finger. It's not just stopping the blood and keeping the area protected against infection -- for girls, giving them something to block the sight of a wound puts them at ease too.
Her anxiety was gone, and a warm appreciative smile lit up her face. Normally she was the sassy, wisecracking broad type, and she probably thought I was cold and uncaring about others. It turned into one of those charming moments where you see another side of someone that you'd never expected, and you're both aware of it, but neither of you say so out loud (which would make it awkward). You just keep it to yourself and laugh about it, feeling a little humbled by the surreal event.
We weren't even real close friends, nor attention whore / emotional tampon co-dependents. I guess she raced over to my door first because she saw it was already open. Getting into trouble builds character (especially humility) because it forces you to reach out to others for support who you normally would not admit any vulnerability to. Now that young people take no risks, and get into so little trouble, they rarely have to reach out to less familiar peers and learn any humility. So they wind up kind of shallow and empty, personality-wise, like the Silent Gen did during the mid-century.
Where was I going before I remembered that experience? Oh right, how cluttered with pointless junk people's living spaces are these days compared to the '80s, when everyone would have had basic first-aid ready, and not mounds of creams, shower gels, air deodorizers, and stockpiles of toilet paper and shaving razors. People stock so much hand sanitizer, and almost no band-aids.
The climate must have changed after the '80s but before 2000, then. Sure enough, all of this OCD behavior about containing and organizing clutter -- rather than not acquire so much in the first place -- shows explosive growth only during the '90s. The primary supplier for the clutter addict is the Container Store, which only opened their first store outside of their native Texas in 1991. They're first covered in the NYT in 1998, when they had 18 stores (and would more than double to 38 stores by 2006). Organized Living, its primary rival, only had two stores open in 1993, growing to 25 by the mid-2000s.
Folks were more socially connected back in the '80s, and didn't result to accumulating junk that they'd never use, in a pitiable attempt to fill their daily lives with a modicum of meaning. "A store filled with containers?" they'd ask a time traveler from 2015. "Why hang on to so much crud in the first place?"
As for the more extreme end of the spectrum, "hoarding" as we know it today didn't catch the NYT's attention until this article in 1993. "So Much Clutter, So Little Room: Looking Inside the Hoarder's Lair · Independent Living Is Exposing Elderly To Eviction Threat." And this one from 1997: "Most of us aren't such extreme cases -- sufferers of hoarder's syndrome, in the lingo of organizing consultants." Before then, hoarding only referred to gold hoarding or something similar. Not cases of people ruining their own lives. The term "professional organizer" in the relevant meaning only shows up in 1992, and "organizing consultant" in 1997.
By the way, when did people start hoarding paper and plastic grocery bags? I'll leave that one as an exercise for the reader. Had to have been around the mid-'90s. They rationalized it as being friendly to the environment, but what's so eco-friendly about an always-growing pile of plastic bags in your closet? There are even containers to put on the closet door or wall to store your hoard of plastic bags, just in a more compact space, pulling them out when "needed" -- i.e., never, because the damn thing keeps on snowballing.
It's worth keeping in mind how recent some of these bizarre social and cultural changes are -- if they're not part of ancient history, we have more hope of wringing ourselves free of them.