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10 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore

10 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore

Minimalism

Last Updated on September 8, 2020

Minimalism and zero waste share several core tenants, one of them being BUY LESS. So, I wanted to round up 10+ things that I don’t buy anymore.

After all the first word in the most popular eco-friendly phrase is ‘REDUCE’ in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I have saved so much money by simply not buying stuff I don’t need.

Some of these links are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy!

Since switching to a zero waste lifestyle, I’ve been able to reduce so much of what I buy. Instead of mindlessly consuming, I take time to make sure that I’m bringing items that I truly need or absolutely love and bring joy into my life.

I’ve been working on turning my most popular blog posts into videos. If you prefer videos, you should check out my YouTube channel.

I’ve created two videos one 10 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore and a 10 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore Pt. 2.

1. plastic water bottles:

I’ve been plastic water bottle free for four years and counting! I’m honestly embarrassed by how much money I used to spend on plastic water bottles in college.

Now, you’ll typically find me carrying an insulated Dopper Bottle or a Klean Kanteen!

Most places in the United States have drinkable tap water. I know not everywhere does but most do.

If you can’t stand the taste of your tap water, think about investing in a water filter. Berkey is a top of the line filter that actually purifies the water, but it’s quite an investment.

If you’re looking for something a little less heavy duty that works similar to a Brita, but is plastic free check out Kishu sticks. You can learn more in my blog post  how to filter water without plastic.

2. kuerig pods:

I’ve never owned a Kuerig, but my boyfriend in college did so I would buy myself hot chocolate pods to use when I was over at his apartment.

If you’ve got a Keurig, why not switch to reusable pods, you’ll save a BUNCH of money and your coffee will taste better because it’s fresh!

If you don’t have a Kuerig machine and looking for the most eco-friendly way to brew a cup, I did a post on How to Save Electricity in the Kitchen and found that when you compare the energy usage on every type of coffee machine – the French Press reins supreme.

It also happens to be one of my top 5 FAVORITE zero waste swaps of all time. Reduce waste and energy by using a French Press.

3. pads & tampons:

I’ve saved so much money by switching to reusable menstrual products. Whether you wear a cup, cloth pads, or my personal favorite Thinx, you will definitely be saving lots of dollars and waste.

As a bonus, I never having to worry about running out to the store to pick up tampons or pads at 11 pm on a Tuesday night.

If you’re interested in trying Thinx, you can get $10 off with this link, and check out my blog post Thinx Review: I Tried Every Type of Thinx Period Panties where I break down each different style they offer.

4. paper towels:

I have a great blog post and video on breaking up with paper towels. Because let’s be honest, paper towels are spendy! Instead, I use cotton rags.

I don’t recommend microfiber cloths because they shed micro-plastics in our waterways when they’re washed to learn more check out my post The Problem With Microplastics.

Most people don’t like reusable cloth towels because they push water around instead of absorbing it.

My recommendation is to look for cloth towels with a wide weave, and I really like bar rags – they do a great job! Fold ’em up, store ’em in a tiny basket so they’re super convenient for you!

And, if you’re still experiencing issues, you might have soap build up in your textiles. If you’ve been using homemade laundry detergent, you’ve got to read this post 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Homemade Laundry ‘Detergent’.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Breaking Up With Paper Towels

5. plastic baggies:

I used single-use plastic baggies for EVERYTHING! Thankfully, there are a lot of substitutions for this single-use plastic conundrum. Here’s just a few:

6. Spongeless:

Swapping out sponges has been another one of my favorite zero waste swaps.

It’s far more pleasant to wash the dishes when you don’t have to reach for an icky sponge. You can read more about my dish washing routine in my blog post The Ultimate Guide to Washing Your Dishes – the Zero Waste Way!

Not only are these compostable counterparts better for the environment, they’ll save you a BUNCH of money. My compostable dish scrubs last for years… YEARS – I TELL YOU. Plus, you’ve got a lot of options!

7. no more pre-packed “convenience” foods:

In the past, I was guilty of buying trays of pre-sliced fruits and veggies. I quit buying small trays of peppers and mushrooms saran wrapped on Styrofoam a few years ago because they cost a premium!

For a quick cost comparison from my local Safeway in San Francisco, CA, I can get 8 oz of mixed bell peppers, mostly green, pre-sliced in a plastic tray for $3.99, and for an 8 oz whole bell pepper I can buy a green one for $1.25 and a red one for $1.50.

That’s a huge savings and can really add up over time!

Beyond just pre-sliced produce, I also used to fill my grocery cart with snacks like chips, oreos, poptarts, etc. Now, I try and opt for package free snacks like apples, bananas, and oranges – which also happen to have a bit better nutrition profile.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I still wind up with a few of these items over the course of a year whether I’m at a party or have a really intense craving for Captain Crunch, but I’m certainly not filling my shopping basket with these things like I used to.

And, I still get plenty of sweet and salty goodies from the bulk bins like pretzels, chocolate chips, popcorn, sour gummy worms etc, but I’m a lot more intentional with what I buy.

8. broke up with fast fashion:

I had a really intense love affair with fast fashion, but we broke up a few years ago. Many of the cheaply made pieces of clothing I bought, were only worn a handful of times.

If you’re unfamiliar with fast fashion check out my blog post What’s the Problem with Fast Fashion?

One of the best things I did was define my style, and only bring in pieces that were going to be with me a long time!

But, There are so many ways you can have a more positive impact on the planet through your clothing choices.

  1. Buy Less – get all my tips for implementing a 30 day waiting period to curb impulse purchases.
  2. Shop secondhand – Get my 6 tips for MASTERING the thrift shop and 10 Secondhand Shops Online.
  3. Buy well made clothing – get my tips for finding quality clothing that LASTS!
  4. Repair and rewear what you have.
  5. Buy from sustainable designers – 50 Ethical Fashion Shops You Should Know About

9. cotton balls/cloth pads:

Instead of letting my toner absorb into a reusable cloth pad, I put my toner in a spray bottle! Boom, less waste and one less thing to buy.

Pour your toner into a spray bottle, and then spritz your face and let it air dry. I used an old spray bottle, but also have several of these and LOVE them.

This one simple swap has doubled the life of my toner bottle! And, my skin care routine isn’t cheap so I love that I’m saving money and wasting less.

RELATED POSTS
My zero waste skin care routine – morning edition
Zero waste makeup brands
Zero waste skincare brands

10. aluminum foil:

I used to buy a lot of aluminum foil, and I used it for everything from lining pans to tenting pies and wrapping up that lone pizza slice.

Thankfully there are several reusable products to fill all of these voids.

For that lone pizza or pie slice a tupperware container or beeswax wraps will do the trick! To shield your pie crust, try these, and if you want something non-stick for baking, check out Silpats – they also work great for freezing.

I’m always amazed how there’s a reusable alternative for almost every single disposable item out there. For more tips, be sure to check out my blog post The Ultimate List of Zero Waste Swaps.

BONUS:

I’ve been doing a series of videos on TikTok called, ‘Things I Don’t Buy Anymore Thanks to Zero Waste Living.’ Several of the videos have gone viral with more than 4 million views combined.

Due to popular request, I am breaking the items from each of those videos:

VIDEO 1

VIDEO 2

  • Rubber bands: I collect the rubber bands from produce and mail instead.
  • Aluminum Foil: See #10
  • Plastic Wrap: Beeswax Wraps
  • Sponges: See #6

VIDEO 3

VIDEO 4

VIDEO 5

These are the 10 things that I no longer buy.

Do you have something you no longer buy since switching to a zero waste lifestyle?

 
 

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  1. FYI re: the cloth towels. The problem is usually that since they’re cotton, they still contain the natural oils from the plant in the fibers. They just need to be washed several times (sometimes just a few, sometimes as much as 10–12 depending on the fabric and your washing conditions) before they become fully absorbent. (Anyone familiar with cloth diapering will recognize this as “prepping”.) When I was prepping my diapers, and then later on my new organic cotton kitchen towels, I just threw them in with any load of laundry I was doing until they started absorbing enough to be useable. Then the normal use & wash cycle got them the rest of the way there. HTH. 🙂

    1. I keep,a little bucket with water, soap, borax in kitchen. Throw in dirty towels, ready to put into washing machine, when full. They get xtra soaping this way, get cleaner

  2. Hi!
    I love your blog and read all your posts! I just wanted to let you know (I think I read it in another post), menstrual cups do not cause IUD expulsion, apparently it is a pervasive myth. I was told by a gynecologist, and it has been studied and was found that the cup had no effect on causing IUDs to expel. Perhaps you could edit the previous post? Just to prevent anyone from not choosing the cup from worries about it.
    Here is that study: https://www.mdedge.com/familymedicine/article/36931/womens-health/menstrual-products-dont-increase-iud-expulsion

    This post was great! I don’t buy bottled water either! Keep up the good work! I look forward to more posts! 🙂

  3. I no longer purchase disposable razors after switching to a stainless steel one. Highly recommended.
    Cotton pads are out the window too. And today I purchased a reusable q-tipfor ear cleaning.

    1. I love my quip toothbrush, can recycle the head, use rechargeable batteries. Will send you a ne brush head every 3 months. Cheap too compared to others.

  4. Let’s see… started following you in Jan 2019…

    You’ve stated many of them already…

    Disposable coffee cups- I now take a reusable cup with me everywhere and if it doesn’t have coffee then it has water..

    I think besides changing my habits it’s been about changing the habits of others. I am now a ScoutMaster and have been applying my lessons learned here to how we pack out and do journeys…. on our first campout, they went through 6 rolls of paper towels, this last campout was just one with increased thought in recycling and reduced packaging, and I am hoping to introduce them to simply using rags versus paper towels at the next one (still trying to get some adults past this too.)

  5. Actually now that I think more about this—- here’s a blog topic for you… perhaps you can create a blog about reducing waste when camping out…

    So… I need to be able to take Scouts (ages 11-17 male/female) out into the woods, pack food for two nights and two days.

    Keeping in mind the weight they would have to carry at least a quarter mile and the space it would take up in the coolers and vehicles. (Meals are planned in advance and the scout has to shop for it.)

    Our biggest waste products (so far), is food waste, paper towels, and packaging. This last campout we were able to reduce our trash for twelve people to one construction grade 55 gallon trash bag, and a box of commingled recyclables. Some paper boxes we used for fire starters for campfires.

    Thoughts??

    1. great you are inspiring the next generation! How about taking bulk dry cannellini beans in paper bag, use pan for soaking, burn bag and add smoked paprika and loose baked potatoes for spicy meal. Reward/funny forfeit for empty plates/helping themselves to too much food. Make own muesli/granola. Use some foraged food.

  6. Toothpaste – I use baking soda. Works great. Some people don’t like the taste but I love it. It’s cheap, too.
    Tampons – I use natural sea sponges, which can be washed out and reused for months. Sea Pearls are good but expensive. I’ve had pretty good luck with the ones that are sold as cosmetic sponges. They last six months or so. Cup doesn’t work for me tho.’
    Kleenex – I use a flannel hankie, nothing fancy, just an old shirt cut into squares. Endlessly washable, and they just get softer and softer.

  7. Buy bulk coffee in the paper bags at the supermarket? Pull them apart to flatten, they have a plastic interlining, bad, but now can use the flatten bag, for storage lids with a rubber band, string, whatever.
    I buy loose tea at Asian markets. Come in nice metal tin, can reuse, or recycle since it’s all metal, yes? Live the site, so glad found it, posted to my friends everywhere.

  8. Been using StainlessSteel scrubby pads for dishes, pots, forever, last about year, before they shed, into the recycled. Quick clean, saves water. Only buy 100% cotton rags, if not, will have plastics or nylon mix, that stick to hot stuff.

  9. I was so excited to try thin thinx after reading this but $20 for shipping is ridiculous.
    Maybe another time!
    Loved this post, definitely inspired me to make some changes.

  10. I no longer take my purchases home in plastic bags. It took some time to train myself to carry cloth bags. It is definitely worth it.
    I don’t buy foods packaged for individual servings.

    Deb

  11. Now covid19 has hit the world make do and mend, in other words old fashioned recycling will not be voluntary….learn some skills too. I was raised but a WW11 army nurse, it was second nature in my house. Learning to sew clothes and knit too was a must, using leftovers in tasty meals too. The waste collection was called the ash can, that’s all it held, bottles were returnable, no plastic to speak of and everything was fuel. Still here to tell the tale. Stay safe

  12. I’m so glad I came across this post! I follow some of these but there are great ideas I haven’t thought of. I use crochet scrubbers instead of sponges as well – they work awesome and clean in the laundry. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more!

  13. Liquid drain cleaners like Drain-o. When a drain is slow, I just boil a big pot of water and pour it down: boiling water clears the icky, gooey junk and it’s non-toxic, no-waste and free. A big pasta pot is best but a kettle or electric kettle works (plug the electric kettle in right next to the sink) and while you may need a repeat or two, you don’t have to run to the store, buy anything or contribute more plastic waste. Pure & simple 🙂

  14. Instead of aluminium foil to stop the cgeese burning on oven savoury bakes , I use my solid metal biscuit baking tray as a cover. Its made from aluminium but i dont think that matters!

  15. gardening: plastic plant pots; asked older generation for old terracotta pots, use bamboo, repurpose waste packaging eg egg box, or reuse old ones.
    Bamboo cane covers to protect eyes; tin can inverted
    Plastic bags of mulch: making own from raked leaves, sweeping road outside house, shredded pruning, cardboard.
    Plastic garden tools; metal and wood
    Plastic labels; bits of slate from beach or buy reusable slate labels and use white pencil or pen for labelling, pebbles
    Plastic biros; pencils instead
    Notepads and paper for shopping needed; old roof slate and chalk picked up on hillside
    Flowers for friends/home; pick flowers from garden, include greenery, branches from shrubs and trees, seed heads, berries, herbs e.g. rosemary
    Gift wrap and ribbon; use scraps of material, clothing or household objects e.g, old cushion cover, scarf, sheet, basket, pretty sock,bags, pillowcase and tie up artistically with string, raffia, greenery and recycled ribbons. Ask people to pass on to the next person they gift and pay it forward.
    Christmas stocking gift wrap; Who gives a crap loo roll wrap😂Mother-in-law didn’t even notice!
    Staples; double fold paper corners tightly eg on documents
    Liquid soap and shower gel in plastic dispensers; large bulk buy organic liquid Castile soap and add lovely organic essential oils e.g. orange, bergamot and geranium from glass bottles to decant. Much cheaper and smells incredible.
    Room freshener; make own from water, essential oil and witch hazel
    Packets of breakfast cereal; make own muesli and bircher
    chutney and jam; make own
    Plastic ties and string for parcels, bags and gardening jobs; now use wooden pegs (for many jobs) or natural compostable twine.
    Sellotape; paper tape
    Organic slug pellets; baked crushed eggshells
    Packets of Dentastix for dog; raw carrot sticks (better for teeth according to our vet)
    Wider family Christmas presents; share annual special meal together (in non-COVID times)
    Plastic bottles of tonic water, PepsiMax and sparkling water; soda syphon plus flavourings