My 44 Possessions: Everything I Own Fits in My Backpack

Robin Greenfield sitting inside his cabin with his 44 possessions in front of him.
A Fresh PerspectiveConsciousnessDownsizingEnvironmentFreedomIntentional LivingMinimalismPersonalRobin’s TransformationSimple LivingSustainable LivingTravel

I have simplified my life down to just 44 possessions. Everything I own is sitting in front of me in this photo.

The possessions I do have serve a purpose, allowing me to live simply and sustainably, meeting my basic needs and helping me to inspire others to live in harmony with our earth, our global humanity and all species.

In monetary terms, the value of these possessions is around $500, and I have about $5,000 cash. No bank account or credit card, no savings accounts or retirement funds, no car or driver’s license, no physical home or mortgage. Earth is my home and humanity is my family. I am living in the present to be the change I wish to see in the world. With the state of the world we are in, I feel that we must act now, and thus I have optimized my life to be in the now, for a chance at a sustainable future.

Yes, this is extreme. The message is not that anyone must do just as I do. My life serves as a counterbalance to the extreme society that we live in. I have designed my actions and my life to be a wake-up call and an opportunity for others to self-reflect and align their values with their actions.

I did not get to this point overnight. It has been a long road of transition making continual progress little by little. Nine years ago, in 2011, I moved to California and rented a three-bedroom apartment. I took the largest bedroom in the apartment and had the spare closet full of stuff. Quickly after, though, through the influence of documentariesbooksinspiration from others and my own ideals coming to light, I became set on living a non-materialistic life. Each year, I cut my possessions by half by getting rid of the stuff I hadn’t used in the last six months to a year. One of the biggest steps was getting rid of my car. I went from the biggest room in the house to sleeping in the 6′ × 6′ closet and by then, almost all my possessions fit in there with me. Then, in January of 2015, I moved into a tiny house that I bought used on Craigslist for $950 where I lived off the grid without a bill or debt to my name. I lived there for a year.

In 2015, I simplified my life down to 111 possessions. I traveled in this manner for two years and afterward accumulated possessions as I embarked on a year of growing and foraging 100% of my food. During this time, I lived in a 100 square foot tiny house that I built from 99% secondhand materials for under $1,500.

After finishing that project, I put great effort into reducing my material possessions again and am now down to 44. The number 44 isn’t actually that significant to me. The purpose of my minimalism is to keep myself from focusing on material possessions, to keep my life simple, to curb my consumption, and to live an environmentally conscious life. It’s also designed to keep my involvement with money to a minimum and to live with a great level of happiness, health and freedom. Through my years of downsizing, I’ve found that material possessions don’t create long-term happiness or fulfillment for me. I’ve found my greatest happiness in education, truth, experiences, and relationships. I’ve found that an overabundance of possessions hinders my purpose and passion rather than facilitates it.

The following is a list of my 44 items. This, of course, is a debatable figure and comes down largely to a matter of opinion of what one would consider a possession. It’s not about the number. It’s about the philosophy and the meaning behind it all.


5 shirts (4 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve) (natural fibers)
2 shorts
2 underwear
wool sweater
cloth bag to hold clothes
(At the time of this writing, I am in a warm climate. When I go to a cold climate, I will visit a thrift store to get some clothes to keep me warm.)

Natural Hygiene:

toothbrush (I have used bamboo in the past, but have not found it to meet my needs, thus the plastic brush.)
floss (silk that I compost)
essential oil (lavender for relaxation)
soap (biodegradable soap in a refillable glass jar)
body moisturizer
sunscreen (biodegradable, plant-based)
earplugs (for sleeping in loud places)
manual hair trimmer in hemp bag (see The Off the Grid Zero Waste Haircut for details)
fingernail clipper
cloth bag to hold hygiene items
See my natural personal hygiene for more information.

backpack and additional day pack/reusable bag for shopping
pot and spoon (Pot can be used for cooking, as a bowl, or for take-out food.)
water bottle (just a glass bottle from the recycle bin)
tea strainer and refillable bag of loose-leaf tea
notebook and pen
laptop, charger and headphones (and sticker on the computer) (I purchased this used for $300.)
book (Currently I keep one book at a time and swap it out for a new one when finished.)
bookmark (postcard of Gandhi)
passport and birth certificate as my two forms of identification
cash in an envelope (I have no bank account or credit card.)

If you are curious about my 44 possessions, you can watch the video where I share each item and why I have them, along with the philosophy behind my actions. Below I have also listed each of the items.

If you are inspired to simplify your life, then you are also in the right place. In this video, I share my practical advice on how to downsize:

For a deeper understanding of my relationship with money, insurance and death, watch this video:

Again, yes, this is extreme in today’s society. The message is not that anyone must do just as I do. My life serves as a counterbalance to the extreme society that we live in. I have designed my actions and my life to be a wake up call and an opportunity for others to self-reflect and align their values with their actions.

Sending love to you all,

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