A minimalist Lifestyle – The 100 Things Challenge

When I first discovered minimalism one of the first things I started doing was randomly picking up items and asking “do I really need this ?”. One particular weekend I wondered if I could extend this further, and over the course of the chosen weekend, could I remove, recycle, bin or re-purpose 100 things I owned ?
The 100 things challenge.

I’m not the only person to have done this. A google search throws up Jess Constable’s blog, where she even photographed the 100 things in her challenge. I guess I’m not the only one to have plucked this random round number from the air. Though I can see that a few people have done a 50 thing challenge, and there’s even a book about it by Gail Blanke.

So how did I go about it ? I guess the easiest thing was to start with that place where every random thing goes, we all have one. Letters, bills, random items, broken things, reminders. Mine is on the shelf in the study, and its an easy target. The general rule of two less things applies here too. Normally when you find one thing to throw out, there’s a corresponding second thing. The next easy target is those cupboards and drawers you rarely go in. By their nature, if you rarely go in them, then there’s probably little of value in there to keep. My target here were the drawers beside the bed. Five drawers of stuff. There were things of value, but so seldom used, an old pair of binoculars for example. Of value but used once in the last two years. I guess my previous thought would have been to keep them, but maybe I could give them away to someone who would use them a little more frequently. I could always ask to borrow them for the bi-annual event I might need them. The same applies for many things of value that are rarely used.  There was a lot of what I would call ‘sentimental junk’ – cards from the children when they were small, photographs, small badges and awards. These were photographed or scanned. It wasn’t the item itself that was of value, but the memory I associated with it, and that memory was just as clear from a photograph as the object itself. After an hour or so, 4 of the five drawers were empty.
Clothing was next and I was probably a third of the way through the target 100 things, this is an easy one. Anything you haven’t worn in the last year, you probably don’t need. Every season has passed and the opportunity has been there. Was it worn, if not, they its not that likely that it will ever be worn. Clothes are an easy one to recycle and give to charity. If you’re a lazy dresser like me and constantly take the top thing off the pile, then just take a look at all the items on the bottom, its so easy to identify the clothes that can be donated to charity this way.
Then I thought I could do with a change of scene, and hit the garage. The life cycle of any thing in our house will generally show its last days, months, or possibly even years being spent in the garage. The new thing comes in, and the old one goes, not to be recycled, not given away, no, it goes in the garage. Normally for no good reason at all. We can use the same principle of not being used in the last year as another indicator of not really being needed.

So that’s how I completed the 100 things challenge. Not many places, but 100 things less, mostly in two’s. Many were donated to charity, recycled, given to someone who would actually use them, and the remainder just thrown away.    

Have you given a thought to a 100 things challenge of your own, if not 100, then 50, or 20. Once done you can use the one in, one out rule to keep things from getting back to the way they were.