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5 Things I No Longer Buy

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In my quest to lighten my load, and my environmental footprint, I’ve discovered more than a few things I can swap out – or just happily live without. The five items I’ve stopped buying / bringing into my home straight ahead…

reduce environmental impact

Plastic Bags and Food Wraps

Oh, how I used to love Saran Wrap and Ziplock plastic bags before I understood that they literally never break down, contain toxic chemicals, and can be harmful or deadly to birds and our marine friends. Here’s the good news: I’ve found a few great alternatives including parchment or paper bags (compostable), Stasher bags (reusable), or even just a good old fashioned mason jar or glass food storage container. We haven’t bought plastic wrap for years, and I was thrilled to recently discover a biodegradable Ziplock bag alternative (linked here).

Plastic Straws

Single use plastic straws are a big environmental no-no, so instead, I’ve invested in a set of thick metal straws that make sipping milkshakes and smoothies even more delightful and refreshing. Win-win.

More Than One Cleaning Product

This is a biggie. I used to buy ALL of the cleaning products which created a jumble under my sink that was cumbersome to organize. When a friend of mine raved about Branch Basics, a non-toxic cleaning concentrate that can be combined with varying amounts of water to create every product you need for your entire home, I gave it a go. Now there’s simply no going back. I currently have ONE cleaning product under my sink (the concentrate) paired with a set of bottles so I can make window cleaner, floor cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and even a laundry solution, just by adding water. The game has changed. *You can use code SHIRAGILL for 15% off a starter set if you want to give it a try (bonus: they now have glass bottles).

Paper Napkins

We are casual people and used to use simple paper napkins every night for dinner with the kids. While they could be composted, I hated seeing how many we went through in a week, so now we have some cute checkered cloth napkins we use and wash regularly. I’m still working out the nuances of messy dinners with cloth napkins and kids, but typically its nothing that a little spritz of stain remover can’t handle.

Pretty Much All Hair Products

I am very low maintenance when it comes to my hair. Very. I’ve found that a little coconut oil can tame frizz and moisturize like nothing else, and since I wear my hair in a messy bun 99.9% of the time, I can happily do without hair spray, gel, mousse, and pretty much every other hair product under the sun.

The best part is that not buying these products (in addition to saving money and being better for the planet) has actually made my life better. Have you discovered any items that weren’t adding value to your life that felt good to stop buying? Share in the comments below!

Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson

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26 comments on “5 Things I No Longer Buy

  1. Love your posts Shira! I completely agree on everything you listed.
    Have you read the book Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore? Changed my skin!

    Keep the posts coming.

  2. This is great, and curious what shampoo/beauty products you use? Would love a streamlined bathroom cupboard !

  3. Love this, Shira! Just ordered the Branch Basics starter set. I do all the others, but I definitely have too many kinds of cleaners. Thanks for the tip! And thanks for the 15% off too!!

  4. Pretty much all makeup, I keep it super low-key with sunscreen and maybe some mascara. And I’ve scaled back to one moisturizer. If men don’t need 5, neither do I — learning to reject the marketing that’s been plaguing me since I could read and watch TV.

  5. omg totally agree! I dont buy 4/5 on these and also don’t by tissues and use compostable toilette paper! all of this tips are life changing, I love your book and now love your blog! thank you for these!

  6. I use the Matter bags, I use cloth napkins and the reusable pretend paper towels that aren’t really paper towels, I don’t use anything but bar shampoo and conditioner rather than bottled, and I just don’t use any straws, but I do have some cute paper ones in my drawer for fancy times. I need to work on the cleaning products, but I do use the Target Ever Spring brand. Need to work on that. Love the post.

  7. I love this post! One of my fave benefits of reducing the amount of stuff we use that is consumable is just less inventory to maintain and place orders for! Makes my life so much simpler that I don’t use body wash or Q-tips or paper plates/napkins, etc.! 😀

  8. Haven’t used paper napkins in a zillion years. Our fix– bought dark colored ones at a thrift store.

  9. Something I’ve started doing is no disposable cups. I carry a keep-cup in my handbag, and that’s it – if I don’t have it – I don’t get a coffee.

  10. Thanks for all of these recommendations! I love keeping African handwoven baskets in the trunk of my car that I use for grocery store runs, farmer’s markets, target etc. I’ve had them for years, they are extremely durable, beautiful, and can hold heavy weights. By keeping them in my car, they don’t take up space at home and I never forget to bring them. They’ve really cut down on plastic and paper bags.

  11. One simple way of helping save the environment and the pocket book is to hang laundry outside or on drying racks inside if not outdoor space is available. Sometimes, in the winter and in certain environments dryers are almost necessary, but even in those situations laundry can be hung inside on clothes ‘horses’/racks. I’m yet to understand why people who live in the hottest weather or with lots of sunshine use dryers! jmo.

  12. Cannot afford Branch Basics at all. Just use Castile soap, baking soda and vinegar for everything!

  13. Great list. I’d add single use plastic water bottles. Just refill a stainless steel water bottle. Less to buy. Less to store. Better for the planet! Also dryer sheets. Replaced those with wool balls.

  14. I no longer buy dryer sheets! Instead we use wool dryer balls and if I want my laundry to have a scent I add essential oils to the dryer balls. It’s wonderful to not buy and throw away dryer sheets.

  15. Thanks for sharing what you no longer buy. I no longer buy:
    1- Liquid or powder laundry detergent. I can avoid the plastic on pods, and plastic containers by using laundry strips. Each strip packs ultra-concentrated, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured strip of detergent that you just toss in the wash.
    2- Bottled water/drinks. I fill my own reusable containers.
    3- Anything that contains palm or palm products due to environmental impact. It takes a little time to read labels but I can avoid palm in foods, soaps, etc. by finding alternative products.
    4- I try not to buy products in plastic if I can find another option such as glass, cardboard, etc.

    1. Susan would you mind sharing which laundry strips you’re using? I’ve been using some for about nine months but am feeling like they’re not quite doing the job.

  16. I still buy shampoo in a plastic bottle, i have tried solid shampoos but i always end up with problems with my scalp, it becomes itchy and eventually I break the skin and get scabs. There are some things, mostly skin products, that I will be taking the advice of a dermatologist and if that means that it comes in plastic container so be it. I can and do make a change in pretty much all other aspects of my life. I no longer buy sanitary products, I have a period cup and it has been life changing, love it!!! Would never go back to tampons.

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