How would you survive without your Swiffer? What if you didn't even know that the newfangled dust picker-upper existed? You'd probably use your trusty broom and dustpan. And the craftier among us would employ used dryer sheets do the trick.

No, we're not launching a Motley maid service. But we have noticed lately that our cars, closets, drawers, and entertainment centers are crammed with stuff that we saw advertised on TV.

Consider this interesting tidbit from Juliet Schor's The Overworked American: "On average, each additional hour of TV watching leads to $200 of annual spending." That hour of viewing pleasure is padded with more than 20 minutes of commercials on the average network program. After a night in front of the tube, it's no wonder that we pine for cars with Hemis, detergent with scrubbing bubbles, and soap that deposits reflecting crystals in our pores.

According to, the average student spends 1,000 hours zoned out in front of the tube, and 900 hours staring into space in school. From childhood to high school graduation, that adds up to more than 300,000 TV commercials. Anyone's kids suffer from "the wants"?

We have no room to lecture here. We watch our share of TV and, OK, might even be TiVoing All-Star Survivor.

Still, consider that one week without TV removes 500 hours of temptation -- of the shopping variety, that is. Maybe it's worth a few bucks to monitor our television viewing.