Cult of Less Blog

An attempt by Kelly Sutton to own as little as possible.

Please see the main site at cultofless.com

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 10:17 am

Reblogged from kellysutton.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

Lots of Press.

BBC News covered the Cult of Less project and a torrent of other press requests have followed. The two posts on BoingBoing spurred many comments, questions and (a lot) of criticism. I even made the Sydney Morning Herald. Now is probably a good time to share a few updates with the project since the last post.

I’ve successfully whittled down my belongings to about two suitcases and two smallish boxes. It’s made travelling and moving a cinch. It’s nice to know that everything I own is currently sitting in my closet and on a few shelves in my room. Not in public storage. Not at my parents’ house.

Thanks to everyone for your support and help with the small things, like taking pictures of my closet for the press.

If you’d like to keep the discussion going on Twitter, use the hashtag #cultofless. I am always available to answer questions at michael.k.sutton@gmail.com

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm
Nothing is off limits. Including my car.
At this point it looks like I will be moving out to NYC after I graduate in May and will have no use for my car. It’s been a great car and I’ve never had any problems with it.
If you’re looking for a car, let me know via email please! Price is very negotiable.

Nothing is off limits. Including my car.

At this point it looks like I will be moving out to NYC after I graduate in May and will have no use for my car. It’s been a great car and I’ve never had any problems with it.

If you’re looking for a car, let me know via email please! Price is very negotiable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 6:40 pm
Friday, September 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm
This morning I’m shipping 4 things off to Matt in Canada and the Cult of Less project is beginning to heat up.
I haven’t been doing the best job of promoting the project; things haven’t been leaving my possession as quickly as I would have liked. Also, plenty of people are looking at items but not purchasing them. I’m interpreting this as them thinking the price of an item is too high.
Now is where I’ll introducer another constraint for myself.
Automatic Incremental Price Reduction
The goal at the end of the day is to rid myself of everything. Anything that is blocking that goal must go, including price.
To solve this problem, I’ve built in some functionality that will automatically decrease the price of everything in the system by 10% every two weeks. The day and time that the price reduction happens on is somewhat random, so people can’t camp out until that one thing falls to a certain price.
Let’s see if this works! Check out the list and see if the prices are more reasonable for you.

This morning I’m shipping 4 things off to Matt in Canada and the Cult of Less project is beginning to heat up.

I haven’t been doing the best job of promoting the project; things haven’t been leaving my possession as quickly as I would have liked. Also, plenty of people are looking at items but not purchasing them. I’m interpreting this as them thinking the price of an item is too high.

Now is where I’ll introducer another constraint for myself.

Automatic Incremental Price Reduction

The goal at the end of the day is to rid myself of everything. Anything that is blocking that goal must go, including price.

To solve this problem, I’ve built in some functionality that will automatically decrease the price of everything in the system by 10% every two weeks. The day and time that the price reduction happens on is somewhat random, so people can’t camp out until that one thing falls to a certain price.

Let’s see if this works! Check out the list and see if the prices are more reasonable for you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm

It’s Beginning…

Chastity Belt

Since putting everything online on Monday, things are already starting to sell or be shipped. Super cool. The first item I shipped was actually a book of mine, Building Scalable Web Sites. A few other things have been sold since then, including:

Looking at the analytics of the items that people are looking at the most, it appears that the Mac Mini is definitely a hot item but probably priced too high. I’ll be reducing the price soon to see that’s what’s holding people up.

I’ll also be coding up a new feature sometime soon to request for me to come down on the price of something. Be on the lookout for that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:48 am
New Feature! - “Most Recent Item Listed”
So I put together a quick and pretty simple new feature. It’s just a section on the front page that lists the most recent item I list.
I did this for primarily two reasons. The first is that no matter how much stuff I get rid of, there will always be an influx of items. I’m not sure I would consider these individual failures, but rather just part of the natural cycle of ownership.
The second reason is that people keeping an eye on the project probably would like to know what the newest thing is, so they can snipe it if possible.
What do you think?

New Feature! - “Most Recent Item Listed”

So I put together a quick and pretty simple new feature. It’s just a section on the front page that lists the most recent item I list.

I did this for primarily two reasons. The first is that no matter how much stuff I get rid of, there will always be an influx of items. I’m not sure I would consider these individual failures, but rather just part of the natural cycle of ownership.

The second reason is that people keeping an eye on the project probably would like to know what the newest thing is, so they can snipe it if possible.

What do you think?

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:00 am

Here We Go…

I spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on the first “version” I guess of the site. You’ll see that I’ve put together a pretty simple list of everything I own. There are a few things that should be pointed out about this system.

I figure I have 70% of my belongings documented.

The Categories

I’ve sorted all of my belongings into three different categories:

  • keep
  • sell
  • ship

These categories are exactly that, the things that I will keep, sell and ship. The things I’m keeping are not for sale. The things I’m selling still have some sort of value to the world, or I think that it makes sense to sell them. Then there’s everything that I am shipping, which I think will be of interest to the most people.

The things selected to ship are things that I either despise, thing I am embarrassed to own or things have little value (to me). Everything I own is in working condition, so this is definitely the “another man’s trash is…” section. These things are more valuable for someone else to own and use in their life than they are for me to have them.

The Cost

While you may see many things listed at a price of $0, everything has an eyeballed shipping. I am not going to lengths of computing the shipping down to the last penny via a FedEx/UPS/USPS API. I also slightly value my time and must drink beer occasionally. If you don’t think the shipping cost is justified, don’t buy it. I won’t budge on shipping rates. It’s a waste of my time and yours to haggle.

Hack: you can always rationalize the shipping as shipping and handling. And by handling I mean beer handling, specifically by me.

The Motive

So what’s my motive behind developing a system like this? Why not just use Freecycle or Craigslist? A software system, albeit an objectively simple system, still takes time and extra effort.

There are a few reasons for doing the site. Mostly, I wanted a coherent space to catalog and transact. Automating the system takes out some of the overhead that I might experience with another site. I can be delivered the exact information that I want.

Also, I wanted control over the look.

Coming Soon

This site is not complete. It is the first iteration of an ongoing project. In the future, I’ll be adding list sorting, a button (whose purpose I keep secret for now) and slight tweaks here and there.

Someone asked me in an email if I will be opening the site up to the outside world. The answer is: yes, but after I’m done. I want to make sure what I’m pushing out is a tested product.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 10:00 am

Is it possible to own nothing?

Well, maybe not nothing. Nothing is a little extreme. But is it possible to own close to the nothing? I hope to have the answer to that question soon. Inspired by a a book or two, I’ve decided to try to see if I can rid my life of most of the clutter. The goal? Condense my life into 2 bags and 2 boxes.

How will I do this? It seems simple to just say: get rid of everything. To realize how much junk I own, I have put myself through the misery of documenting every single possession of mind, no matter how insignificant. This gives me a solid metric to measure my progress against. I will be explaining the finer details of this in future posts.

The 2 bags and 2 boxes principle will hopefully allow me to live anywhere and move instantly. This is the Cult of Less.


While I don’t consider myself to be some sort of ascetic or societal recluse, I’ve found that more stuff equates to more stress. Each thing I own came with a small expectation of responsibility. I look into my closet and feel guilt. I glance into my desk drawers and see my neglect. When was the last time I wore this? Have I ever even used that?

Instead of trying to distribute my time too thin among all of my possessions, I will simply get rid of most of them. I will eliminate a large part of stress in my life and I will truly cherish the few things that I own.

This wouldn’t be a proper project without a deadline and some constraints. I will detail everything in the future

As with many of these little one-offs that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing, I hope other people will also try it out for themselves. All of the systems I’m developing to help me empty my life of possessions have the potential of many users using the system in mind.

This system was built with two purposes in mind: (1) to offload everything and (2) to document the triumphs and failures. As a reader, you will have the chance to purchase or receive (for almost free) most of my stuff. Again, I will explain the finer details of this as this progresses.

In the meantime, the deadline for the 2 suitcase, 2 box singularity is: December 1.