Could You Live With Just 100 Things?
"After we were done, I looked around and realized that I still had way too much stuff," says Bruno, "It occurred to me that maybe I wanted to live simple but in reality I behaved differently."
That realization prompted the 39-year-old father of three to try an experiment, "The 100 Thing Challenge."
With the goal of breaking free of what he calls a "bad habit of consumerism," Bruno vowed in 2008 to live for one year with just 100 personal items.He whittled down his possessions to 94 items, including a Bible, laptop, guitar, wedding ring, car and clothes.
He created some guidelines for the experiment since his wife and daughters did not participate -- family-shared and household items did not count as personal items. He also grouped together some basic things such as underwear and socks. Bruno began blogging about his new no-frills lifestyle and eventually wrote a book, The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul.
Since completing the experiment in November 2009, Bruno has continued to live by the motto of reduce (get rid of some of your stuff), refuse (to get more new stuff), and rejigger (your priorities) and maintains just 110 personal things.
"Nearly two years of living with a minimal, though completely adequate, amount of personal possessions, I'm no longer in the habit of consuming for consumption's sake," he writes in his blog. "That's freed me up for all sorts of better endeavors than shopping -- like spending time with family and writing a book and scheming about business opportunities."
Bruno's project has also inspired others to live minimally, many of whom post their own 100 Thing Challenge updates on YouTube.
"The reality is that the 100 Thing Challenge is surprisingly easy," says Bruno, who works as an online marketing manager. "I'm not saying there were no challenges or disappointments. I miss some things. But not that much. Frankly, it's far easier to live with less stuff than with excessive clutter."
In an interview with SecondAct.com, Bruno offers five ways to start simplifying your life, no matter how much stuff you have:
1. Pick a number.
Set a goal to limit the amount of items you can have. "As for 100, it was a good round number," Bruno says. "Fifty things would have put me in the category of hermit, and 150 things would have been too easy."
2. Tackle your closet.
"Everyone has more clothes than they need," he says. He recommends choosing clothes for two weeks -- 14 different outfits -- and then packing the rest away. "After a few weeks, you will not even notice the other stuff is gone."
3. Break it up.
Take a different area of the house each week or month and do the same as with your closet. Paring down items in the kitchen, bathroom and pantry in separate chunks will make an otherwise-daunting task much more approachable.
4. Get rid of things you "think you'll need someday."
"It's not until you start to purge those must-have items that the real benefits of living simply kick in." If you really want to get something new, get rid of something first.
5. Be realistic and realize this is a process.
Bruno says it took more than six months to get down to 100 things. "This isn't a weekend activity," he says. "But my life has changed. I'm no longer consuming irresponsibly. Give yourself the time you'll need to change your lifestyle. It's worth it."
Read more: How to Create a Zero-Waste Home
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