I know I’m not a perfect minimalist just yet. There are still many unimportant things I can’t get rid of, many negative thoughts I still hold on to. Anyways, I’ve just only started and the journey into this minimalist lifestyle takes time and great effort. I’m just trying my best. I make small, easy changes to myself each and every day – let go of unnecessary things and be mindful of what things I consume. Being a minimalist isn’t not enough, though. I’m also on my way towards a sustainable lifestyle – own less, waste less and live more. So.. in this post, I’d like to share with you a number of things I no longer buy since I embarked on this journey. Saying “no” to these things and finding suitable alternatives that fit better into my lifestyle have somehow saved me both money and waste.
Pre-packaged foods and beverages
Pre-packaged and processed foods are fast, convenient, and taste good. However, they are not really healthy choices. Neither are sugar-sweetened beverages. More importantly, most of them come in plastic containers which will end up in landfills and take up to thousand years to decompose. For those mentioned reasons, now I no longer spend my money on them.
I also avoid buying other packaged products when I go shopping.
However, as you know, it’s not that easy to buy everything package free. So I’m not saying that I never buy any packaged items. I’m just trying to do my best to reduce the amount of waste that comes from packaging. Instead of buying things packaged as a single portion, I’d rather choose to buy in bulk.
Disposable cups/ plates
I used to use a lot of disposable cups and plates when I was going on a picnic because they are super cheap, convenient, easy to handle and unbreakable compared to pottery ones. Especially, they don’t need washing after use. However, since I practiced living an intentional life, I’ve made the commitment to myself that I would never buy any plastic (or paper) disposable cups/ plates. If I go on a picnic with family or friends, I will wrap foods in the glass or pottery containers. We’ll also bring our own cups. I need a little bit of time to wash them afterward but it’s totally just fine.
Biodegradable plates and cups are currently available in many zero waste shops. They are made from eco-friendly materials such as sugarcane. Maybe I will buy these natural disposable items if I really need to, but not very often. I think I better just bring my own cups whenever I go on a picnic
I remember back then when I was a little younger and started traveling, I always had this thought in mind that I could buy a bottle of water when I got there and never bothered bringing my own reusable water bottle. Now when I’m fully aware of how those plastic water bottles I’ve bought so far have had a huge impact on the environment, I stop buying them. My reusable water bottle has become one of my essential items that I can’t travel without. I can refill my bottle water for free in most hostels and homestays, which is good for the environment and will save me a ton in the long run. Not to mention we never know for sure if that bottled water is really pure.
Moisturizer and beauty products
I stopped wearing makeup a while ago. Well, to be honest, at that time I was wearing just lipstick without other makeup – no foundation, no eyeliner, no mascara, no eyeshadow,… Now I stop wearing lipstick as well.
I no longer using any commercial beauty or skincare products except for natural oils. I use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer. I wash my face with only water (every other day I wash my face with my soap or with salt-added water). I just love the way I am. Not only does wearing no makeup save me a lot of money and waste, but it also helps me to become a happier person.
Body wash and shampoo
I haven’t washed my hair with conventional shampoo for half of a year now and I feel great that I made this decision of using the no-poo method in the first place. Now I use shampoo bars to wash my hair and follow up with an apple vinegar rinse. I have to say, these guys work wonders! I love them so much. As a minimalist, sustainable traveler, a natural shampoo bar is my perfect companion. It’s simple, clean, 100% natural, 100% vegan and smells just amazing. And it’s totally package-free!
When I’m at home, besides using shampoo bars, I also wash my hair with some fresh or dried herbs every now and then.
Body washing is even more simple if I’m out and about, I often use my shampoo bar to wash my body and never have a problem with it. There are also a lot of organic shops that sell natural handmade soaps, so body wash is no longer my choice.
I’m traveling now. The shampoo bar that I bring along with me is a Lush bar which my sweet neighbor gave me a few months ago.
Cleaning products contain a lot of toxicity which is harmful to the environment and our health. In addition, they are actually expensive in their own right.
So instead, I make my own all-purpose cleaner from water, baking soda and vinegar (and a few drops of peppermint essential oil if I want my home to smell fresh). This homemade cleaner is wonderful – very cheap, very eco-friendly and very easy-to-make!
I no longer use any laundry detergents. To wash my clothes, I use my shampoo or soap bar or only warm water. I think it’s fine.
I don’t use fabric softener not only because of the environment matter but also the cost. Another reason is that it’s unnecessary and I don’t like its smell.
Unnecessary clothes/ shoes
Here is my dress code…
Every item of clothing in my wardrobe should be always practical and versatile.
Whenever I go shopping for clothes, I always look for items which can be worn over and over and match other items that I already own.
Anyway, I think I have enough clothes to wear for different types of weather and have no intention of buying any brand-new items. If necessary, I’ll just shop at secondhand stores. Buying second-hand is cool – for your wallet and the planet!
Purse and handbags
First, I say “no” to any kind of bags that are made from plastic, leather, faux leather materials.
Second, I will only use fabric wallets/ bags and nothing else.
Third, I don’t want to own more than 2 wallets or 2 handbags. One of each is enough.
Currently, I’m having a little cloth wallet that was handcrafted by myself and I feel very happy with it. I have a canvas tote bag which is my go-to bag. If I’m traveling, I bring with me my folding backpack.
In case one of those is worn out, I guess I will look for another alternative at a secondhand store or make a new one from old clothes by myself.
The only pieces of jewelry that I own are my bracelets (I love those fabric boho bracelets but I don’t, of course, buy them just because I like them. Every single bracelet that I’ve bought has a story behind it. I know I’m not that minimalistic when it comes to this sentimental bracelet thing but I feel good wearing them. So I guess it’s ok).
Other than those bracelets, I don’t spend my money on any other jewelry items – necklaces, earrings, belts,…
I’ve not bought a paper copy of any book for a long time. Now I read books on my Kindle or if I want to enjoy some time with a real book, I just borrow books from friends or the library. You know the paper is made from trees, if we reduce our number of books purchased, we can save a huge ton of trees. The environment will become better by us doing that.
Moreover, since I got my Kindle, I’ve saved a lot of money and time. Because paper books are increasingly expensive and spending time in the bookstores just to look for a single book is such a waste of time.
Kindle becomes even more convenient when it comes to traveling. With Kindle, I don’t have to lie awake many nights wondering how many books I should bring along with me for a 6-month trip.
Paper towels are one of those items that most of us have grown accustomed to but are completely unnecessary. They are bad for the environment and a waste of money. For that reason, I decided to switch to a reusable and washable cloth napkin. So when I’m on the go, I just bring my napkin with me. I even made my own hand towels by cutting up old t-shirts that were too stained to wear. Such an easy cheesy solution! Some money saved and some waste reduced!
I used to love beautiful little things that are displayed in every gift shop. I always wanted to bring some souvenir home when I traveled to somewhere. You know, we love buying souvenir because those souvenirs are reminders of a trip as some good memories. But since I started to live the minimalist lifestyle, I’ve learned how to get rid of sentimental items and focus on what matters most in life. I’ve learned that our memories are within us. And if they are fading or we can’t recall, then they are not that important in the first place.
Unwanted freebies and promotions
We tend to be obsessed with discounts, promotions and free offers. And as a result, there is more and more unwanted stuff coming into our lives. The more freebies we accept, the more waste we produce, which is the reason why I now always say “no” to free gifts or promotions.
“Refusing things you’re offered but don’t really need is the first step towards a zero waste lifestyle.”
So these are items that I don’t buy any more as a low waste minimalist. Is there anything that you stopped buying and don’t feel like you’ll ever going back to buying? Let me know in the comment section below because I’d love to know!
Thank you for reading!