Recently I jumped on one of our biggest national bandwagons: I rented a self-storage unit.

As a person who tries to live simply, I’m a little ashamed to be among the one in ten American households with a storage unit. But my place had to emptied before I went to the closing and signed it over to the new owners, and I had no new home address. Into the storage unit everything went, along with my $120 monthly rent. No wonder the U.S. self-storage business takes in more than $22 billion a year. Even the recession can’t slow demand for storage!

Compare that to South Africa, where, a leader of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa told me, the fastest-growing industry is the funeral industry, driven by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. During the same decade that the U.S. self-storage business was exploding, the annual number of registered deaths in South Africa rose by 91 percent.

One country stores stuff; the other stores people. What would the world feel like if the money spent on our extra stuff were spent on keeping others out of coffins?