Living more simply through eBay

Here’s one way to live more simply: sell all your possessions on eBay. That’s what John Freyer did in 2002. As he was getting ready to leave grad school in Iowa for New York City, he decided to sell everything he owned on eBay and on his site, He sold everything, from used socks, to a can of Chunky Soup from his pantry, from his Planet of the Apes LP, to a bag of small, roasted cuttlefish. The result is a book that catalogues his project, which is described on the site as an “explor[ation of] our relationship to the objects around us, their role in the concept of identity, as well as the emerging commercial systems of the Internet.”

You don’t need to be as hip and PoMo as Freyer to see the benefit of eBay as a tool for turning clutter into cash. I saw an article in New York Times back in 2007 about how teens trying to get quick cash are a great source for cheap electronics on eBay and Craigslist. Especially when you’re about to make a life change, like moving to another city, selling a lot of your stuff, instead of packing it up and paying to ship it, can be a great organization strategy.

There’s a moral here for you even if like most of your possessions, thank you very much. Whenever you are uncluttering and you don’t think you can bring yourself to part with some knick-knack, just think of John Freyer and his Star Wars bed sheets.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

3 Comments for “Living more simply through eBay”

  1. posted by jaypea on

    Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but I simply have not found electronics (or many items) to be all that cheap on craig’s list or eBay. Case in point: I’ve been searching craig’s for an iPod Nano and didn’t find anything cheaper than what I could have bought at BestBay, which is only a little bit under the regular retail price. Is it just me, or are there too many sellers to make these sites worthwhile in terms of finding things that are REALLY cheap. Also: the fees on eBay make it not really worth one’s while to post low-price items that might not sell.

  2. posted by Jasi on

    @jaypea – Craigslist depends heavily on locality and luck. Living in the tri-state area, I find better deals in Philly than Jersey and NYC. Still, buyer beware.

    I would love to sell everything on eBay and Craigs. And I did unload quite a bit on Craigs once DH’s and my households merged. But it’s a hassle and though I love the extra cash, I find myself donating everything now.

  3. posted by Steve on

    It’s a very interesting book, I recommend it! Also, I’m featured on page 192. I was part of the project, I bought one of his possessions. 🙂 I found out about his project around the same time I was doing my own severe downsizing, so it was further inspiration and it was fun to be involved.

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