100 Thing Challenge: Living With Just 100 Items in Your Life

Dave Bruno looked around his San Diego home one summer and realized just how much of his family's belongings were cluttering their lives. So he decided to do something about it, in a project he called The 100 Thing Challenge:

By my thirty-seventh birthday on November 12, 2008 I will have only 100 personal items. I will live for at least one year (God willing) maintaining an inventory of only 100 personal things. This challenge will help me "put stuff in its place" and also explore my belief that "stuff can be good when it serves a purpose greater than possession alone."

Lisa McLaughlin of TIME Magazine covered this story:

Excess consumption is practically an American religion. But as anyone with a filled-to-the-gills closet knows, the things we accumulate can become oppressive. With all this stuff piling up and never quite getting put away, we're no longer huddled masses yearning to breathe free; we're huddled masses yearning to free up space on a countertop. Which is why people are so intrigued by the 100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items. [...]

"It comes down to the products vs. the promise," says organizational consultant Peter Walsh, who characterizes himself as part contractor, part therapist. "It's not necessarily about the new pots and pans but the idea of the cozy family meals that they will provide. People are finding that their homes are full of stuff, but their lives are littered with unfulfilled promises."

Check out Dave's progress his blog, guynameddave: Link

This is a great idea, but not for some of the reasons people will attach to it.

Not for the "over consumption" or the "green" aspects, but simply because when we over complicate our lives with possessions, we end up tied to those things and essentially lose our freedom to move at will because of the ton of baggage we have to drag behind us.

If you can limit what owns you, you become free to experience more of what life has to offer.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
This is great for rich people.

Those of us who are forced to buy things from Salvation Army and Fleamarkets know that the reason that we have so many small things is because we are dealing with outdated and half broken things.

I have two laptops because neither of them had a warranty past 1999. If I could afford a new one with applecare i would only have one.

Simplicity is often more a matter of technological level and money than voluntary simplicity.

Money and technology level also allows one to get beyond huge barriers that leave others in poverty for their lifetimes.

Give up the telephone and see how quickly your ability to earn a living and find a new job drops to nearly ZERO.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
But I have more than 100 tools. How would I make things instead of buying them - how would I repair things instead of replacing them, how would I show the kids these skills unless I had my tools.
Today I've used...

Pickaxe, shovel, spade, trowel, big spirit level, small spirit level, bolster, pointed cold-chisel, lump hammer, block plane, tenon saw, long straight-edge, mixing bucket, watering can, hacksaw, socket-set, small screwdriver, wire cutters, broom; and probably a dozen more that are so commonplace that I don't recall using them. And this isn't for work, this is at home. (I'm a kept-man - I send the wife out to work while I look after the kids!)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I doubt I use half that in one day. It's the food preparation stuff that would probably get me, if anything. A person has to eat!

And do shoes count as one or two items?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I stumbled across this idea a few years ago in a Young Adult novel called the Gospel According to Larry, but according to Wikipedia, the protagonist went a step further and limited himself to 75 items.

I mean, it's a good idea in that any time you wish to purchase something, you'd have to think extra hard about it, & decide if that item is worth losing something else you love for.

But? Hell, i own over 100 items just in books, & that's after purging my library of everything i didn't need earlier this year.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Truthfully, if you are running a household, 100 things is not enough. If you feel your life is cluttered with things you don't need, then get rid of those things. Simple. It's called spring cleaning. I see nothing special, noble, or even practical about this project.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I don't think I could do this... mainly due to the boredom. I could probably cope with wearing similar clothes for a long time but not with watching the same films, reading the same books... doing the same things in my free time. I think spring cleaning is good, but this guy might be taking things too far.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
This is a great post, Alex!

When I was a young homebuyer at 26, my wife, daughter and I started with very little and even though we bought a tiny house, there was plenty of open space - room for people and guests and parties, etc.

In the 12 years that have lapsed since then, we've managed to stuff this tiny home full of STUFF. In my case, it's mostly books that have taken over my space. For my wife and daughter it is clothes. We're all responsible for DVDs, furniture we don't need, useless gifts we've received, etc.

I'd love to be able to liberate us from this scourge and return to the good old days. I can't imagine how I'd go about doing so, however.

This article is food for thought for me. Thanks.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
at 30 years old i can commit to doing this. However as i do not have 100 items of my own would people be willing to add to what i need to come to that number.
i have
1 pocket pc
1 laptop
8 pairs jeans
8 pairs shirts
7 pairs boxers
7 pairs socks hmm makes 14 socks
1 belt
2 pairs shoes
1 toothbrush
1 tube toothpaste
1 coffee cup
1 drinking cup
1 razor
100 pack burnable dvds
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
i like the idea, but his blog's a bore. wish more of the content was about what he purged, and if he misses anything. as to the books and cds everyone mentioned, how about the library and video store? he can only own 100 things, but he can borrow like mad.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
This doesn't seem particularly reasonable to me, as has been said above ... the very basics of life require more than 100 items, especially if you plan to cook, clean, or sleep somewhere. I have a book collection that I love. I keep it up very neatly and have even been trying to catalog it. It's not something I acquired due to an insane need to spend. I think maybe that these people ought to invest in some storage items and junk tossing, rather than limit themselves to a certain # of items ... and maybe invest some thought into their shopping habits rather than turn themselves into modern day monks.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Utterly terrible idea. This is pure ignorance. My kids each have boxes of 64 crayons each, should they only get 36 other items? This proves the old adage that humans are suckers for round numbers.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I dunno, if you have a kid, there is no way int he world you can get by on just 100 items.
Does a box of 48 diapers count as one item?
What about my computer? And the peripherals? And yeah..the food.
I dunno, sounds pretty impractical.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I think it's a good idea to really take a look at all the stuff that we have laying around cluttering our lives and spirits to get rid of some things. But realistically 100 things would not work with my family of four.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I think it is a good idea but am trying it in my house and allow for 100 things per person. there are 5 of us so im hoping to get it down to this number excluding the car and things belonging to work(which I try to leave at work anyway).
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I think the point of this idea is not to really only have 100 items, but to challenge yourself to look at your space. Dave wrote, "stuff can be good when it serves a purpose greater than possession alone."
Just look at this sentence and the word "possession". The issue is that most of us allow our "possessions" to "posses" us.
We keep a lot of things because they were gifts, or because they remind us of a special time. If you let that item go, will you forget that special time?
If you do, then the time must have not been too special.

Years ago people easily lived with less than 100 items. Of course I'm not saying lets live like cavemen, but the fact that we can't is what holds us back from growing to our highest potential.

DCer said his kids each have a box of 64 crayons. Why? Can't they share one box?
If they aren't able to share a box of crayons how do you think they'll be sharing, not just material things, but thoughts, ideas and feelings in class, home or even when they grow up in the work place?

As for me I don't limit myself to a number, but try to go by if something comes in, something else goes out. Or every few weeks/months I have a closet clean-out (I did this yesterday). It's easy to clean out my closet because I don't have so many clothes or shoes. It's also easier and more pleasurable to get dressed because I don't have to go through tons of clothes to choose the one I want to wear.
And I do agree, if you haven't touched it in 12 months, let it go.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
DCer simply drips with ignorance. Counting 64 crayons as 64 separate items is ridiculous; they came in one box, and they all work together to create art, thus acting as one item. Also, a computer with the cables count as one item, as they mean to work in tandem; try firing up your PC without anything connecting it to the wall outlet! Perhaps if these posters actually read what they were criticising perhaps they wouldn't have responded with such a knee-jerk reaction.

One thing I do dislike about Mr Bruno's list is how he lumps together socks and underwear, as well as not counting shared items.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 26 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"100 Thing Challenge: Living With Just 100 Items in Your Life"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More