The man who gave up all his stuff

There’s a very interesting Finnish documentary about Petri Luukkainen, a Helsinki documentary maker who literally gave up everything he owned in an attempt to find out what he really couldn’t do without.  For the next year he lived according to four rules:

  1. He would conduct the experiment for a full year.
  2. Everything he owned went into storage.
  3. He allowed himself to take out of storage no more than one item per day.
  4. He didn’t allow himself to buy anything except food and consumables.

The result is a movie called ‘My Stuff‘.  Initially released in Finnish under the title ‘Tavarataivas‘ in 2013, it’s just been re-released for the world market.  Here’s a preview with English sub-titles.

The Telegraph says of the movie:

The film … begins with the 29-year-old naked in his empty Helsinki flat. From there he runs across icy streets to the depot where his belongings are stored, the first of which he takes being a long coat – preserving his modesty and providing a makeshift sleeping bag for the first night. On the second day he takes shoes, on the third a blanket and on the fourth jeans.

Half way through the year he falls in love, leading to a dilemma over whether he should replace his new girlfriend’s fridge – another rule of the project is that he’s not allowed to buy anything new – or to fix it at greater expense. Later, Luukkainen’s grandmother is taken ill and has to move into a care home, meaning he has to go to her old flat to sort through her stuff. The events provide the documentary with such a satisfying narrative that some critics have suggested the film is semi-scripted, though Luukkainen insists it is all real.

The conclusion he comes to at the end of the year is probably what he suspected at the beginning: that possession is a responsibility and “stuff” is a burden. He does, however, provide a couple of figures which may be of help for anyone thinking about decluttering. Luukkainen found he could get by with 100 things (including swimming trunks, trainers, a debit card and a phone) but needed 200 to live with some “joy and comfort” (a third spoon, an electric kettle and a painting).

. . .

Whatever the seriousness of the problem, the international interest in the film suggests it is one many of us in the West face, and Luukkainen says he has been contacted by people across Europe who have been inspired to take on similar experiments. “I’d love to be part of a movement but I’m not sure My Stuff is,” he says. “All I want to do is get people to think about what they have and what they need, because it’s not something I thought about at all before I did this film.”

There’s more at the link.

That sounds like it might be an interestingly quirky film.  I’ll be looking for it.



  1. I do not see the problem, that the film suggests is one of the west. People all over the world own things they would rather live with than do without, it's part of living a normal life. Funny he did not give up his dwelling.

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