And when it comes to making our mark in society, it is not just what we acquire but what we decide to get rid of that is important to us, says the study by researchers at Sheffield and Nottingham Universities.
The project examined how households in the Midlands and North-East got rid of ordinary, everyday consumer items over the course of a year.
It excluded things that can be placed in kerbside recycling bins glass jars, paper, plastic bottles and tins - and rubbish such as packaging.
Instead, the team focused on the other items found in our homes, including electrical products, clothing, furniture, furnishings, toys, books, CDs and videos.
Researchers found that the dustbin or a visit to the local tip are merely two options amongst many when it comes to discarding the family fridge or TV, or shedding furniture or clothing which have been around for a long time. The only exceptions, says the study, are when people are moving home or carrying out major refurbishment.
Professor Nicky Gregson, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Geography, who led the study team, said: "People and households use numerous methods of ridding themselves of objects, including giving things away, selling or even quietly forgetting them.
"Of course, this is not to say that these things are not wasted by those who might receive them. Charity shops, for instance, often send for ragging the donations that they regard as unacceptable.
"But what matters more is that households clearly try to save things from wasting, and don't waste without care."
People get rid of objects because they become 'pitted', chipped, discoloured and washed-out. Equally, however, other items endure, and the durability of some makes getting rid of them harder and more g
Contact: William Godwin
Economic & Social Research Council