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The no new possession challenge

Subject: Blog Posts

Description: I set my self a challenge not to buy any new possessions other than what I can eat or drink and de-clutter my life

Posted by David Caldwell on 08/05/13 at 20:12

Photo by Bradley Gordon

In the modern west the acquisition of objects is part of the game of life so much so as the maxim ‘he who dies with the most toys wins’ holds true.  We spend our lives in the pursuit of shiny pretty things and take on extra credit or work longer hours to attain them.   

But do things have to be this way?

I want to set myself a simple challenge and not buy any new possessions for a Month the ground rules are simple.

  • Rule One - Only buy things that sustain you such as food or drink
  • Rule Two - Don’t buy anything that you can’t eat

What I want to realise

  • Focus on my life rather than on physical objects,
  • Save Money by buying only what I need to sustain myself rather than buying objects I want.
  • Help the environment by reducing my carbon footprint and recycling and fixing what I own
  • Reduce clutter and help me realise a more minimalistic attitude to life
  • Free up more time that would otherwise be spent in shops
  • Play my part in smashing capitalism. Only joking, or am I?


In the East Buddhist Monks live their spiritual lives with only eight possessions including an alms bowl, three robes, a belt, a razor, a needle and thread and a water skimmer.  They only eat food that is provided by the local lay community.

In the west Jain monks believe that the more possessions owned will result in that person being unhappy in equal measure.

Digambara monks take this view to a new level and don’t even own clothes and their only bowl is their cupped hands.


Modern Minimalists reduce the amount of possessions they own to around a hundred objects, as well as not buying any new possessions I have decided to purge any clothes or objects that  I have not worn or used in 12 months.  I am hoping that this will de-clutter my life so I will not end up being one of those hoarders that are so popular on TV these days.

Keep posted and I’ll let you know how I get on. Smile

Day One

I found myself tempted to buy a game to download but this made me think if digital objects with no tangible real world presence could be described as possessions.  Most of the mp3s that form my music collection were downloaded and I think of them as mine so they must be. 

So if something that is a transient sequence of zeros and ones can be bought and owned then it must be a possession even though it occupies no physical space.  I resisted the urge to buy and just said no.

Keywords: De-clutter, minimalism, minimalists, Buddhist monks, possessions, Jain Monks, Digambara Monks