Thanks for a thoughtful post. We tend to think of these people as slobs but it is not always the truth. It seems that some sincerely want to get over this but can't. It is a compulsive disorder.
In this guy's case, it truly is. He used to look forward to garbage day so he could drive around looking for stuff people had set out on the curb. He'd come in with stories about how he'd snagged some broken kid's toy or busted TV stand and be proud as a peacock.
I think a lot of that mentality started during the Depression, when "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was the guiding principle. A lot of people who lived through that or were influenced by it just cannot accept that we're living in a time of plenty.
Some of the worst are farmers. If you drive by a farm and don't see at least one junked car and a rusting collection of worn-out machinery, then it's a cinch the guy hasn't been farming long.