How I Got Rid of 100 Things in One Weekend

Have you ever considered the psychic weight of a stapler?

I realize that might be the oddest question you’ve ever been asked, but bear with me… because I have.

See, I am a minimalist. Ok ok, at best I’m an aspiring minimalist.

Ever heard of minimalism before?

Essentially minimalism is the intention to live with as few possessions as possible. If you Google minimalism you will find blogs and books dedicated to the subject. You may encounter people who own just 15 things.


Or you may encounter arbitrary numbers of items to aspire to owning. Say, 100 things, or someone who has 288. Something like that. While there is no set number of possessions you must aspire to, the objective is always to reduce your possessions to the bare essentials.

Why do this?

Because things, like staplers, have psychic weight.

Ok what do I mean by that?

Essentially what I mean is that owning things actually costs you something on a daily basis, and I’m not talking about your car insurance. I mean that everything you own, in addition to paying for it at the register, you pay a small cost to have it in your life.

Some of that cost is monetary (paying to operate it, move it, store it, ship it, etc), but much of the cost is mental.

Think of it a different way. Have you ever taken a weekend to “declutter” your house? I’m sure you have. You set out a couple grocery bags of clothes you never wear anymore, maybe some old pots and pans get donated, and some books and CDs end up at the library.

How’d you feel after you got rid of that stuff? Did you feel a certain “lightness,” like a small weight had been lifted? You felt better, didn’t you?

That’s because you released some of the psychic — or mental — weight of the possessions you once owned. You’ve decluttered your life, and in the process you’ve decluttered your mind.

So what’s with the stapler?

Well, last weekend I set myself the arbitrary goal of getting rid of 100 things. I don’t know why I picked 100, just seemed like a nice, round number. And more importantly, it seemed ambitious.

I really want to invest more into having less. And challenging myself to find 100 things I didn’t need felt like a great way to dive in headfirst.

So as I went through my possessions, I was looking for a few key things when determining whether or not to get rid of it. But above all, the most important metric was “when was the last time I used it?”

If it was over a year ago, I got rid of it. Somewhere between 6-12 months was debatable, and anything less than 6 months I generally kept.


This is most (but not all) of the items

I also considered redundancy — do I have two of these things when I could do with one? And I considered whether the possession could serve someone else better than it was serving me, like giving a cookbook to someone that might use it more than I am.

At the very end of this post I’ll list out all 100 items, but I’ll highlight a few that were challenging or had a good story.

A few quick notes about my accounting:

If it was broken, I didn’t count it if it was going to be replaced. That’s a one-for-one substitution and I haven’t reduced my number of possessions. If they were small items of the same category I counted them as one, not however many there were. For example, I got rid of probably 15 old pens and 10 pencils I never use, but I counted that as one item, not 25.

A lot of the stuff was old clothes, old DVDs and CDs, and some old books. Books are especially great to get rid of because 1.) they’re heavy, and 2.) they can have a life well after you get rid of them.

Much of the stuff was kitchen gear — those who know me know I am pretty obsessed with kitchen gadgets, but I had to take a hard look in the mirror and realize I didn’t really need 7 different cooking spoons.

But let’s take a look at a few items in more detail:

The Juicer

Every vegan has to have a juicer, right?? How could I possibly get rid of my juicer? I know, I know… but it failed the “have you used it in the last year” test. The answer is a definite “no.” Haven’t even taken it out of the box since I moved.

Why? At one point I was obsessed with getting a juicer. Thought they were so cool. Thrilled when I finally got mine. But as I made more juices a few things started to concern me: 1.) you strip away all the fiber from the fruits and veggies, losing that key nutrient; 2.) that ends up being a lot of waste, which means making juice is expensive; and 3.) they are reeaaaally annoying to clean.

So I stopped using it and went back to my trusty blender. I don’t need a juicer, sorry (and you’re welcome to whoever claims it from my building’s front hallway).

Incense + Incense Holder

I remember when I bought it about 5  years ago in the summer. I thought “I’ll be the type of person who burns incense.” I am not that type of person. I think it smells really annoying. But I moved it probably 5 times since I bought it. Of course it was stashed away in a box, it’s not like I had to unpack and repack it. It’s not like it’s heavy. What is the real cost of owning it? Probably not much, but I can tell you I feel better getting rid of it, so it had to go.

Old Charging Cables

I used to collect cables. I think I got it from my Dad. You never want to be without the cable you need, and even long after you’ve gotten rid of the device, “you never know…” The “you never know” attitude is killer for minimalism. “You never know” leaves you drowning in things you haven’t used in decades. Those cables gotsta go. Everything you buy comes with appropriate cables anyway!

Pressure Cooker Cookbook and Vegan Cookbooks

I love to cook, and I have many cookbooks. It was easy to pick out a few I didn’t use that often anymore, and the real perk here is I know people who WILL benefit from them! My Mom just got a pressure cooker for Christmas and is learning how to use it. She actually got me this vegetarian pressure cooker cookbook when I got my pressure cooker. But now I know how to use mine and don’t reference it anymore. It’ll serve her better. Similarly, my older brother just decided to embark on his own vegan/plant-based journey! (Which you can read about here!) Since he is new to the path, a vegan cookbook or two will serve him better than they will serve me. Simple. Easy. They gone.

IMG_2538Salad Dressing Bottle

As I got closer and closer to my goal of 100, it naturally became harder and harder to identify things to get rid of. I suppose that’s a good thing — it means I’ve trimmed a lot of the fat. But I really wanted that nice, round, 100 number. So I probably opened every single box I have, checked every cupboard, combed over my stuff ten times, just looking for another thing to toss, one more thing to let go of. And this glass salad dressing bottle kept catching my eye as a possibility. And every time I considered it I thought to myself “ah but it’s a really nice bottle! I really like it, and if I ever make my own salad dressing I’ll have the perfect place to store it!” But the pressure of getting to 100 was weighing on me… And I considered it once more. I asked myself when the last time I used it was, and the answer was not good. Probably 4 years ago… “Ah, but I really like it.. It’s a nice bottle.” The thought kept coming back. And then I finally woke up and thought: “does liking it mean you need to keep it around as decoration? You don’t use it. It’s gotsta go.” And like that I snapped out of the trance, realized “of course this has to go” and it was painless to let go of.

Sometimes we hold onto things simply because we like them. Sometimes letting go of possessions is really hard.. But you have to ask yourself, “is this serving me?” If it’s not, then it’s gotta go!

The Stapler.

Ah, it has come to this… Time to talk about The Stapler. Why has the stapler gotten so much attention in this story? For me, for whatever reason, it’s the poster child of me owning too much stuff. Whenever I’d talk to friends about wanting to cut down on my possessions, my mind would always go first to “The Stapler.” I’d say something like, “yeah I mean, I own a stapler!! Who needs a stapler?” And the answer was always this: “Well you probably use it like once a year, but that one time you use it you’re glad you have it!”

And in a way, that’s so true… In those rare moments when you need it, it is nice to have.

But is that a good enough reason to own it?

Or more importantly, what is the psychic weight of owning a stapler?

How much does that weigh on me? Do I wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats wondering when I’ll get to use it again? Do I, every time I move apartments (which I seem to do A LOT), look at the stapler and curse it as “one more thing to move?”

The answers to all of these questions are pretty trivial… No, I don’t really think about my stapler much at all. It’s kind of just…there.

But I just don’t want possessions that are just “there.” The stapler isn’t serving me. I don’t use it. Like, ever. Couldn’t tell you the last time I used it. Maaaaybe when I was in grad school, but I don’t even own a printer! So I stapled all my papers at school!

So, I can happily report that I am now stapler-less.

As the fates will have it, I’ll probably find myself in need of a stapler next week and I’ll have to go to a Kinkos or something. But for right now, I do feel a bit lighter without it in my life…

So Where Does It All Go?

That’s the million dollar question. Identifying what to get rid of is almost the easy part! Figuring out where it all should go, responsibly, takes effort. I purged some items in late Summer and I found myself biking all the way across the city to donate a frying pan and some tupperware… I was happy it had a life, but as I felt a little silly as I trucked my way 7 miles across town.

Sure I could just throw it all out, and part of that would be cathartic… But I just can’t…

I mean don’t get me wrong — no one wants my stapler.

But most of this stuff can still have a life.

IMG_2539The clothes are easy to donate. There are bins all around the city that accept donated clothes. Just drop em in, so easy.

The books are relatively easy — I can give them second lives by passing them on or donating them to the library. Pretty easy.

Some of the stuff is trickier. I think my first strategy will be “giant box of FREE STUFF in building entryway.” I’ll monitor it for a day or two and hopefully everything will be gone. But if not I’ll figure something out for the rest of it…

No matter what happens to my stuff, don’t let the fear of getting rid of it keep you from doing it. I haven’t even physically gotten any of the stuff out of my apartment yet (it’s still sitting in a plastic tub waiting for its fate) and I already feel a sense of relief. When the last piece does finally exit, I’ll feel just a little extra relief, a weight lifted. I’ll feel like my remaining possessions are serving me.

Until I get inspired to go for another 100 item purge…

How Minimalism Relates to Veganism

I’ll just throw this out there quickly, since I’m not the only vegan blogger also into minimalism — I think the two are related. In some ways, a vegan plant-based diet is a minimalist diet. You cut out the stuff that isn’t serving you (or the planet, or the animals) and you leave what does serve you — whole plant foods. In both cases it’s about simplicity. How can you cut out the stuff from your life that doesn’t serve you so you have more time for the things that do serve you in life — people, experiences, health.

My List:

  1. Kadima Paddles and ball
  2. Chess Set
  3. Ski Goggles
  4. Mini Basketball
  5. Juicer
  6. Juicing Book
  7. You Are What You Eat Book
  8. Velvit Elvis Book
  9. Costa Rica Track Jacket
  10. Old Messenger Bag
  11. ZogSports T Shirt
  12. Pencil Sharpener
  13. Leaf Tray
  14. Old Pencils and Pens
  15. Old Camera Memory
  16. Earbud Headphones
  17. Blank DVD
  18. Apple Adaptor Cord
  19. Stapler
  20. Macbook + Accessories
  21. Old Charging Cable
  22. Leather Belt
  23. Blank DVD
  24. DVD
  25. DVD
  26. DVD
  27. DVD
  28. DVD
  29. DVD
  30. DVD
  31. DVD
  32. DVD
  33. DVD
  34. DVD
  35. External Harddrive
  36. Whisk
  37. Brush
  38. Measuring Cup
  39. Slotted Spoon
  40. Metal Spoon
  41. White Spoon
  42. Bamboo Spoon 1
  43. Bamboo Spoon 2
  44. Red Spoon
  45. Green Spoon
  46. Blue Spoon
  47. Incense
  48. Incense Holder
  49. Boots
  50. Chill Pad for Laptop
  51. Mason Jar
  52. Mason Jar
  53. Mason Jar
  54. Jeans
  55. Messenger Bag
  56. Old Razor
  57. USB Drive
  58. USB Drive
  59. USB Drive
  60. Old CD
  61. Old CD
  62. Old CD
  63. Old CD
  64. Old CD
  65. Engine 2 Book
  66. Cookbook
  67. Textbook
  68. Textbook
  69. Textbook
  70. MBSR Binder
  71. Gulp
  72. Old Pyrex
  73. Eye Ball
  74. Old Charging Cable
  75. Old Charging Cable
  76. Old Charging Cable
  77. Gap Jacket
  78. Alpaca Sweater
  79. Tank Top
  80. Blue Dress Shirt
  81. Socks
  82. Celtics Hat
  83. T-Shirt
  84. T-Shirt
  85. T-Shirt
  86. T-Shirt
  87. T-Shirt
  88. T-Shirt
  89. Giant Whiteboard
  90. Small Whiteboard
  91. Old Laptop Sleeve
  92. Pressure Cooker Cookbook
  93. Moosewood Cookbook
  94. Plastic Pitcher
  95. Salad Dressing Bottle
  96. Bottle Brush
  97. Bike Fenders
  98. Reusable Grocery Bag
  99. Reusable Grocery Bag
  100. Old Candles

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