The 100 thing challenge

Written By: - Date published: 4:46 pm, June 17th, 2008 - 20 comments
Categories: articles - Tags: ,

From Time magazine:

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…

Dave Bruno, who features in the article, is documenting his own personal purge here.

20 comments on “The 100 thing challenge”

  1. Felix 1

    I think I’ve got about 100 things on the desk in front of me. Some of them are pretty small things, but still things.

    There are probably about 100 cables hanging on the rack above my head. If I turn to the right I see books and records. Hundreds of them.

    I think I’m going to have to sit this one out.

  2. T-rex 2

    I suppose everyone needs a hobby, but goddamn.

    I think the entire anti-consumerism perspective could be easily summarised by the statement “don’t buy worthless crap”.

    People, listen carefully.


    That is the answer to what ails you.

  3. Can he come and do my house soon? I have 100 things in each room…and he’s right, it’s getting oppressive!

  4. Billy 4

    My possessions are causing me suspicion but there’s no proof (as Travellerev might say).

  5. Jum 5

    To the Standard
    Please give me your take on this whimsical piece from Max Bradford, who denies any responsibility for our power situation.

    “Dear dear Colin. What a Piece of historical reinvention your blog is.

    If the reforms that bear my name – even though they took 15 years, and most occurred long before I became minister of energy – are as bad as you assert with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the Labour goernment has had nearly 10 years to reverse them.

    But they haven’t. And why is that? It isn’t because they are afraid to renationalize the electricity industry: after all they did it to Air NZ and the railways to name a couple.

    What you fail to recognize – which is just sloppy journalism on your part – is that the reforms of the electricity sector from 1987 to 1999 are happening or have happened everywhere around the world for good reason. Government owned systems fail to deliver security of supply at reasonable prices.

    In 1998 that began to happen with the dvent of competition. Electricity prices did fall, in spite of your bold assertion, and only began to rise again when Pete Hodgson’s blundering efforts at regulation failed miserably. That’s why we have had well over 40 percent higher prices now than in 1999.

    So now we have the worst of all worlds. No real competition, because the generation side of the industry – 2/3rds owned by the government – has ripped off consumers mercilessly and returned hunderds of millions of dollars for Cullen to waste on hes Get Big government expenditure programmes.

    The regulatory model put in place by Hodgson and Parker has stifled new investment in generation, especially of baseload thermal plant that would give NZ security of supply. That was banned outright by Parker a couple of years ago for climate change reasons. The system is now much more exposed to the vagaries of rain and wind that it ever has been, so nobody should be surprised that we face the possibility of blackouts.

    So if you want someone to blame, blame Labour. Their 9 years in charge have led us to where we are.

    Oh, and the split of lines and energy did something that the ECNZ monoply could never do: the cost of running the local lines monopolies and the prices they charge consumers has either fallen or risen by less than inflation. That wouldn’t have happened without the 1998 reforms.”

    Comment by Max Bradford — 14 June 2008 @ 10:19 am on Colin Espiner’s Blog

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    Well spotted Jum. I won’t threadjack but I hope the Standardistas take you up on your suggestion.

    As for the “having too much crap” movement I, like Felix, tend to accumulate a lot of stuff but much of that stuff is books and other similar items that have some ongoing value, so I’m not as guilty my cluttered apartment may suggest I am.

    On what is usually a very misnamed “A Current Affair” last night (unless you count diet fads, dodgy builders and cute kids with incurable diseases as current affairs) there was a story related to this theme which claimed Australians waste $6 billion worth of food a year but shoving it in the fridge, watching it develop mould, and chucking it out.

    I try to be careful but I admit that I do chuck out some perfectly good food that I’ve allowed to go rotten. Rather than fretting about how many books or CDs or even shoes we’ve hoarded (but which at least have some use), the 100 thingers would be better off trying to raise awareness of how much food we waste – specially when one considers the resources, including greenhouse gases, which have gone into growing it.

  7. jbc 7



    And after a while riding you’ll discover you need:

    – bicycle pump,
    – chain lube,
    – chain cleaner,
    – spare tube,
    – set of hex keys (adjusting seat, stem)
    – puncture repair kit

    and then, much riding later:

    – spoke keys,
    – chain break tool,
    – pedal wrench,
    – chain whip,
    – cassette lockring tool,
    – bb removal tool,
    – cable cutter & crimp tool,
    – spare brake pads,
    – wheel truing stand,
    … [get the picture]


  8. T-rex 8



    Just buy a can of crc and a bike tool and you’ve got MOST of what you need. Then when it finally breaks, you put slicks on it and use it as a road hack and buy a shiny NEW even MORE awesome mountainbike!

    Such is the path to Zen.

  9. T-rex 9

    Standardistas – if you don’t want to do a response to the above on power, let me know and I’ll write a guest one.

    Turn around time will be a couple of days.

  10. Phil 10

    “when it finally breaks… …buy a shiny NEW even MORE awesome mountainbike!

    Such is the path to Zen.”

    Welcome to the dark side ‘rex – I have your ACT party membership ready and waiting.

  11. T-rex 11

    Phil – Sorry, I’d still recycle the old one and support cradle-to-cradle costs being factored into the purchase price 😉

  12. jbc 12


    Just buy a can of crc and a bike tool[…]

    I don’t know whether you’re joking or not 😉 , but yes, what you suggest would keep a pavement-only bike going. You forgot the pump and patches though.

    I wasn’t dissing your mountainbike suggestion, just recollecting my experience. And when you wrote (in caps) GO AND RIDE IT I read that as RACE.

    I’ll grant you that most old beaters ridden by commuters can go years without seeing a spanner.

  13. T-rex 13

    Not really joking! – didn’t take anything you said as a diss though 🙂

    I don’t race – too slack to do the training, it’d mean I’d have to go hard out all the time rather than being able to choose between mountainbiking, climbing, tramping, and lying in the sun drinking beer. Variety is the spice of life and all that, getting hardcore competitive kills variety like nothing else.

    I guess when I think about it I do have (or am able to borrow relatively easily) most of the stuff on your list, but it doesn’t really represent a huge investment. And I don’t use it a lot…

    Bikes are just awesomely reliable things really… doesn’t take much to keep one up to scratch.

  14. Tane 14

    Jum. I don’t want to encourage threadjacking. But I think Labour should have reversed the Bradford reforms, and I think they think they should have too. But that’s political cowardice for you.

  15. Quoth the Raven 15

    Government owned systems fail to deliver security of supply at reasonable prices.

    What about private ones? Why don’t you have a look into the case of ENRON and see what you think.

  16. Phil 16

    Corporate fraud is not equal to security of supply.

  17. jcuknz 17

    My problem is that every thousand years I find a use for some useless bit of junk I have accumulated and when I do foolishly dispose of something I have a need for it quite soon afterwards.

  18. zANavAShi 18

    This sounds like a really cool challenge, which (being that my general home decor style is very light and minimalist) could quite easily be achievable… if I wasn’t such a weka of a computer geek.

    These uhmmmmm boxes and boxes of salvaged PC parts stuffed in various places around my office here are sure to come in useful one day… honest! Although, maybe it is time to let go of all the pre-PIII stuff already hehehe 😳

    Anybody heard of the 100 mile diet? That was another cool challenge I pondered for a while last year except that the place I was living at the time had no space for a vege garden and it’s horrifying how far our vege produce travels to get here.

    Love ’em or hate ’em, the greens make some very damned good points about promoting farmers markets and reviving the good ole kiwi tradition of a vege plot in the back yard. Yay Sue Kedgely!

    If only I could grow other essential stuff like network cables so easily 😀


  19. FletcherB 19

    But how do you count?

    Is My CD collection 1 item, or 200 CD’s, or 200 CDs + 200 booklets + 200 x 3 plastic pieces that make up the jewel case?

    1 mountain bike = 2 tires + 2 rims + 100-ish spokes (each with a nut), each tire valve probably has 10 or so parts, the chain is probably somewhere between 200 and 1000 pieces, etc. etc. etc.

  20. zANavAShi 20

    Hmmmmmm, I like the way you’re thinking there Fletcher…. 5 boxes of PC parts…. enough to recycle into 3 complete PCs….(((wicked evil grin))) 😉

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