100 Things I No Longer Buy as a Minimalist

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Today, I wanted to talk about some things I have quit buying since embarking on my zero-waste/minimalism journey. Since I have decided to live more mindfully of what I consume, I have cut a lot out of my life. This not only saves waste, but it saves money and saves me time as well. I don’t have as much clutter, as much to clean, as much to think about.

Throughout this post, I will talk about what I cut out and what I replaced it with. Some of these are home-made swaps, too. I encourage you to find one or a few or a dozen even that you think you can cut out and see what you can replace instead. Some are very easy while others might take a bit of effort. I am not asking you to make all these swaps but rather this is to inspire you. Perhaps you already have a lot of this cut out of your life.

A lot of these switches come down to being mindful and asking myself some questions, perhaps you can ask yourself, too:

  • Can I live without this item?

  • Is there a more eco-friendly replacement for this item I already have at home?

  • Can I make this item myself?

  • Can I borrow this item from a friend or neighbor if/when I even need it?

Let me know down below what you have cut out or what you will cut out moving forward. I hope you enjoy, let’s dive right in!

In the Kitchen

  1. Paper towels: I just use reusable rags, towels, washcloths

  2. Apple cider vinegar: I make my own with apple peels, sugar, water. There are lots of recipes online

  3. Meat/dairy/eggs: This isn’t necessarily because I’m a minimalist, but more about mindful, eco-friendly living. I replace with more veggies!

  4. Sponges for dishes: I use my hands, washcloths, or my compostable brush instead

  5. Plastic wrap: I use towels or plates to cover containers that don’t have lids

  6. Parchment paper: I use my non-stick silicone baking mats

  7. Aluminum foil: Like the plastic wrap, I just use towels and such to cover dishes. My one exception is when I make seitan, though I reuse the foil over and over until it tears

  8. Cooking spray: Similar to the parchment, I don’t need cooking spray when I have baking mats. I don’t use any when I cook on the stove either. When it comes to other pans, I just use a bit of canola oil or coconut oil in the bottom to prevent sticking.

  9. Disposable cutlery: Growing up, we had plastic cutlery in the kitchen to use at the dining table which I thought was ridiculous. Instead, we just use reusable cutlery. Though, you can definitely wash and reuse plastic cutlery. After all, it’s not waste until it’s wasted! We stocked up on a lot of reusable cutlery when we moved here to prevent disposables for get togethers and such.

  10. Disposable dishes: Same as above

  11. Disposable zipper bags: I have a few reusable bags I use when necessary and I also reuse the disposable ones, too, like I do with foil and plastic cutlery. Alternatively, I just use tupperware style containers instead

  12. Green onions: Bought them once over a year ago and they keep giving me new ones just by having them sit in water!

  13. Basil: Same with basil, I propagated one leaf and now I have an entire basil plant

  14. Jars: Jars are one of the silliest things to buy brand new, in my opinion. You can thrift them, or, better yet, use what you have. You probably still consume a lot in glass (pasta sauce, salsa, sauces, etc). Just reuse your jars! Here are some of my favorites.

  15. Tortillas: I now make tortillas myself which is literally so easy. I have a recipe for whole wheat tortillas but my new favorite is combining equal parts corn flour, whole wheat flour, and all purpose flour. Add water until it forms a nice dough and add whatever spices you prefer. You can find more technical recipes online

  16. Croutons: Don’t buy these either, but I still love a good crunch on my salad. Instead, I buy bread on clearance (still comes in plastic but it’s preventing food waste) and bake it until it’s dried out. Easy!

  17. Veggie broth: This was one of my first eco-swaps over two years ago now. We were buying SO much broth and throwing out SO many veggie scraps. So, I killed two birds with one stone and made my own broth by boiling scraps in water for an hour. Here’s my recipe.

  18. Peanut butter: Another fav of mine that I quit buying because we were consuming so much. Unfortunately I still cannot buy packageless peanut butter, but the package it comes in is paper and metal (which we separate so it can be recycled properly).

  19. Jam: Another very easy one to make at home. I just simmer whatever berries I want on the stove with a bit of lemon juice until all their juices are extracted. I then mash with a potato masher, add some chia seeds to help it thicken, and it’s done!

  20. Butter: Instead, I use coconut oil when I’m feeling lazy. When I’m feeling extra, I make my own butter. Here is the recipe I use.

  21. Bottled tea or coffee (you are just paying extra for water and packaging when you can just make it at home): I think buying premade coffee and tea is outrageous whether from the grocery store or even a coffee shop (especially chains, I’m all about supporting local). Not to mention, you’re really just paying for water and packaging. I just make it at home when I want some.

  22. Single-purpose items (such as bundt pan or cookie cutters): I try to only buy things that have multiple purposes throughout the house. If I need something, say cookie cutters, I will ask around and see if I can borrow some instead.

  23. Traditional snacks, like individually packaged snacks (fruit cups, cookies, snack cakes, etc): When I was a kid, we had SO many prepackaged snacks. Which, is great for parents. But, now that I live alone, that tradition has died. For snacks, we enjoy fruits, nuts, other things that come in “bulk” and so forth

  24. Individually wrapped candy: When we first arrived here, I was so into buying little candies to try. Then I realized just how wasteful that is and I quit doing it, simple as that

  25. Coffee filters: When I make traditional coffee, I use a french press to avoid any waste at all. But recently, I’ve been into instant coffee which most probably think is gross. I’m not a coffee snob though and it gets me the caffeine fix I need when I need it

  26. Tea bags: We are still going through tea bags we bought years ago, but moving forward we will buy loose leaf teas to avoid a lot of non-recyclable packaging

  27. Pre-made sauces/dressings: Thinking like dressing, stir fry sauce, etc I make myself from basic ingredients like oils, vinegars, mayo, seasonings, etc

  28. Pre-made box mixes for things like cake, pancakes, rice mixes and so forth: Just like the sauces, I already have all the ingredients at home: flour, sugar, water, and spices. So easy, tastes better, and less waste

  29. New electronics/gadgets: Instead, I buy second hand. Especially when it comes to tech, we need to support second-hand as much as possible as tech is very valuable and very wasteful when not recycled or rehomed.

  30. MUGS ( I used to be a mug ADDICT but have since been addiction free for the last two years or so, just ask Dan how bad it used to be. I now have about 3-4 mugs I really love and cherish): It’s as simple as I have a few mugs I cherish and just don’t buy more!

  31. Plastic kitchenware: Things like cups, bowls, etc. Never understood it when you can just wash and reuse glass, metal, or ceramics

Cleaners and Laundry

  1. Dryer sheets: These are just unnecessary and I’m pretty sure it was just someone’s bright idea of making money off of nothing important. You can use reusable dryer balls though to prevent static

  2. Fabric softener: Again, not needed. We quit buying it because it makes our uniforms last and haven’t bought it sense

  3. Bleach: I think it’s harmful and unnecessary. If you need to get stains out, try lemon or you can try natural, waterless stain remover bars

  4. Laundry detergent: Instead, I use soap nuts. Sounds weird and I’d love to make a more in-depth video about my soap nuts if there is interest for it. Traditional detergents contain chemicals and you cannot recycle the containers due to the chemicals. Lose-lose

  5. Rags: I don’t buy these new. Instead, I cut up old towels or tshirts to use instead

  6. All purpose cleaner: I have a video and blog post about this. Making DIY citrus vinegar is so easy, so cheap, and saves a ton of waste. This isn’t a disinfectant, but works great on counters, floors, etc

  7. Specific cleaners for the toilet, the shower, the kitchen, the floors. I use my own all purpose cleaner: I use my all purpose cleaner for everything and that’s that. You don’t need a cleaner for every room and every surface. That is simply a marketing ploy

  8. Disposable mop heads: I have a steam-mop with washable heads!

  9. Disposable wipes like Klorox: I hate these, always have. It hurts seeing people use a wipe for 30 seconds just to throw it away. I just use washable rags instead

  10. Spray bottles: Since I am still phasing out old cleaners, I will keep these empty spray bottles to use for my all purpose cleaner and so forth that way I don’t have to buy new

In the bathroom

  1. Hair ties: I got this tip from Shelbizleee. I find hair ties on the ground. Might sound gross and weird, but I do it. You can easily sanitize them! You prevent a new item from being created and reduced litter as well. Win-win!

  2. Disposable razors: If I shave, which honestly I haven't recently, I use an electric razor. Not as aesthetically pleasing as the normal zero-waste safety razor, but we already had it on hand and it works for me. Dan actually uses a safety razor and he has for years!

  3. Shaving cream: Since I use an electric razor, this is unnecessary for me. If you need to, try conditioner or coconut oil or a bar instead

  4. Conditioner: This is another unnecessary product in my opinion. I am still getting rid of some I have had for over a year since I rarely wash my hair, but once it’s gone I won’t be buying again. If I feel like I need a replacement, I will use ACV

  5. Bottled shampoo: I buy shampoo in bar form now which lasts just as long, if not longer and has significantly less waste, physical and invisible.

  6. Separate body and hand soap, just use the same bars: I know people who buy separate body soap, hand soap, and face soap. We just buy a big pack of bars and use them all the same

  7. Tissues: Another easy replacement you can do at home. I make my own from old tshirts that cannot be donated and just wash them. It is a bit of an adjustment, but it works for me

  8. Hair products like gel and hairspray: I quit these products because they were making me lose my hair, no joke. I had used tons of gel every day for nearly two years thanks to the air force when I noticed my hair was thinning. So, I quit. If you need a replacer, whole flax seeds actually make a nice gel, you can find some recipes online

  9. Anything with microbeads or microplastics like glitter,

  10. Hand sanitizer,

  11. Face wash: I just don’t buy these items period but if I needed a replacement, I would find one without microbeads

  12. Loofahs: Most are made out of plastic, though you can find natural ones if you prefer. I just use my hands to cleanse myself

  13. Perfume: Another typically toxic product and comes with a lot of plastic and bits that cannot even be recycled. I made a quick “perfume” from water and essential oils instead

  14. Cotton balls/rounds: I made my own reusable cotton pads from an old tshirt

  15. Lotion: Instead, I use coconut oil or almond oil if I need it. This might change when I move to a drier climate one day in which I will purchase a lotion bar

  16. Menstrual products: Might be a bit TMI, but I haven’t gotten a true period since I started the birth control that I am on. But, if i’m spotty, I will use reusable, washable pads which I don’t love honestly. I’d love to try Thinx one day. But, before that, I used to use a menstrual cup. If you want more information on reusable period products let me know, I’d love to make a more in depth video

  17. Travel sized items: I have ones from years ago that I just keep refilling: It’s as simple as that! You can buy travel sized reusable bottles to fill yourself or just refill the ones you get at hotels.I even manage to refill my tiny toothpaste tubes haha

  18. Dry shampoo: I just use baby powder and when I run out of that I will just use cornstarch since I always have it on hand. You can add cocoa powder or activated charcoal to help it better match your hair color

  19. At home spa items like face masks, bath bombs, bath salts, etc: I just think this stuff is unnecessary and wasteful and don’t have replacements

  20. Vitamins/supplements: I try to get all my nutrients from the food I eat. If I don't, I take vitamins, but I don't buy more than necessary. Of course, consult your doctor and get blood work done if you think you might be deficient in something!

Office Supplies

  1. Pens: When/if I run out of ink, my favorite pens carry refills which I will purchase instead of an entire new pen. Or, like hair ties, I find pens frequently on the ground and just keep and use those

  2. Pencils: Same with pencils, or I use refillable mechanical pencils I’ve had for years

  3. Rubber bands: I use stretched out hair ties or I use the rubber bands I get from produce

  4. Paper books: I will borrow from a library or buy an ebook on my ereader

  5. Bookmarks: If I am reading a physical book, I will use a receipt or scrap of paper. Not aesthetically pleasing, but I am trying to break that stigma here. It’s practical!

  6. Boxes: Whether it be for moving or shipping, I use boxes I already have from things I have shipped to me. Out of boxes? Ask around or ask your local grocery stores, etc

  7. Planners: Most might use an e-planner, but I can’t, for multiple reasons. I don’t mind paper planners if you actually use them, but I have bought two now and don’t use them and hate myself for it. Instead, I just carry around a notebook. If I have something I need to do, I write it down with the date and that’s that.

  8. Sticky notes: The sticky part cannot be recycled which isn’t entirely the deal breaker for me. I also don’t buy them because I already have so much scrap paper I can use for little notes

  9. Craft supplies that I don’t need: (I love DIYs, don’t get me wrong. I’ll still buy crafty items I NEED, not just want)

  10. Office supplies and stationary: This is another one I clearly buy WHEN I NEED but I also used to be addicted to stationary. I would just buy it when it saw it and liked it.

Around the Home

  1. Plastic water bottles: Shoutout to my brita filtered pitcher and stainless steel water bottle! But, something I did as a kid and you can do too is just reuse your plastic water bottles. Again, it’s not waste until it’s wasted!

  2. Dog poop bags: If I do buy them, I buy eco-friendly ones. But, there is really no need to buy them. The bread I buy on clearance still comes in a bag so I use that or bags from produce that I get at farmers markets even though I ask for none haha

  3. Dog and cat toys: I talk about more ideas in this video here, but I just make them if they need them

  4. Knick knacks from vacation and even target: Little trinkets to have sitting on a shelf or on my desk. It’s just clutter that you will throw away one day. If you truly love it, fine, but try not to impulse buy. When on vacation, I take photos and buy experiences instead

  5. Planters: There is literally no need to buy brand new planters. I have used things from old ice cream containers to things I have found on the side of the road

  6. Magazines and other subscriptions: I might read an article or two but then what? Not to mention, the paper cannot even be recycled

  7. Home decor: If I feel like I need some, I make it. If I feel like I have to purchase, I purchase local and also avoid

  8. Big box store art. If I want art, I contact local artists

  9. Impulse purchases (I try to really thing through purchases and think about them for a long time to make sure I really want it): Even when thrift-shopping, I can still impulse buy. But, I am getting better at asking myself the questions I outlined in the beginning

  10. Cheaply made items: This is something that comes with the privilege of having enough money to afford higher quality items to which I am very thankful. I feel like the more money you spend on something the longer is will last, of course, but also the harder I will try to take care of it

  11. Calendars: I use my reusable dry-erase one or write stuff down in my make-shift planner/notebook


  1. Physical movies: Shoutout to all the streaming services we have these days. We watch on there or rent from something like Prime

  2. Physical CDs: Again, I just stream music

  3. Gift wrap

  4. Gift bags: I talked about this in my free ways to live zero waste pt 3 video, but I try to gift someone something in something they can reduce like a bag, a scarf, etc. If not, I will use newspaper instead of buying new products

  5. Bows: Again, unnecessary. If I feel like a package needs to be decorated, I will maybe find flowers or pinecones or just paint the packaging

  6. Birthday cards and the like: I think these are also unnecessary and also ridiculously expensive. I will just write a nice note on a piece of paper instead

  7. Things for people: I try to do DIY gifts or buy them an experience


  1. New clothing (with the exception of undergarments): I buy it all used, if I need to buy new though, I buy from sustainable brands

  2. Single occasion clothing items/accessories like costumes, etc: I will make something from what I have or borrow something from a friend

  3. Uncomfortable clothing items/shoes: even if they are cute and I love the way they look, chances are I won’t wear them because they are not comfortable

  4. Logo tees or event tees: Sure, I might enjoy it for a year or two or three, but they will most likely not be accepted by thrift stores since no one else went on “Dendler Family Vacation 2020.”

  5. More than one phone case: I used to have quite a few when I was in high school but now I just own the one!

  6. Multiple pairs of sunglasses: Again, used to have several pairs, but now I have one pair I really love and make sure to take good care of them

Thank you so much f