Finding a better balance: Petri Luukkainen’s story
How much stuff do you own in your life, and how much do you need? Petri Luukkainen, a documentary filmmaker in Helsinki, decided to answer that question by removing all of his possessions from his apartment and putting them into storage. Then he brought one item back into his home each day during the course of a year, to test what was really necessary for his comfort and fulfilment.
This is the second instalment in “Everyday Stories of Transformation,” a series about ordinary people who are finding their own ways to lead more sustainable and meaningful lives in European cities. Over the next few months on Transformation, I will be sharing some of these stories to show what is possible in the here and now, if we have the courage and creativity to reach for it.
Petri explains his reasoning like this: “At the beginning I thought ‘taking everything away is totally crazy and it won’t work', so I’ll leave twenty items in the apartment to begin with. But then I started thinking, 'what are the twenty most important items?' I could not decide. The experiment therefore became more about the process of defining what I needed in my life to be happy.”
Petri’s project was intended to be about getting rid of the clutter in his house. "You don't own your stuff", he concluded, "your stuff owns you." But it turned out to be about transformation, self-realization and redefining value. It brought him closer to the people in his life and he became more active outside his home. His journey also made him much more ecologically aware and turned him into an environmental activist of sorts.
“Before, I used to associate owning things on my own with being self-sufficient and free. I don’t know if it is cultural or comes from evolution, but when mixed with marketing and advertising I was tricked into believing that I needed to own everything independently. Now, I find the idea that sharing things with a group of people is a much more liberating way to live.”