My personal practice of minimalism is definitely about simplifying life, but it’s also about creating less waste and spending less money. It’s not always easy to say “no” to these things, particularly if I’m feeling down and there’s a super cute outfit on the clearance rack at the consignment store I frequent. But in these moments when materialism tempts, I remind myself that more stuff will not make me happy, and that the less I spend my time and money on, the more I have to focus on what’s truly important in life.
I’ll get right to it–here are some things I’ve managed to eliminate from my shopping list:
1- Clothes I don’t need or absolutely love
This has gotten tricky in the past few years with two pregnancies and nursing, but I think I finally have a basic wardrobe that can cater to all seasons of life (literal weather seasons, and also seasons of carrying children and not). I keep about 30 hangers in my closet and three drawers for socks, underwear, and workout attire. I rotate my clothing when the weather changes as well as if I need to accommodate a baby bump (like right now). I have a rule that I will NOT add more hangers to my closet, nor add anything to my drawers without first getting rid of something. Every now and then a tee shirt is donated or something gets an unrepairable hole or stain (welcome to mom-life), but for the most part, I have all the clothes I need.
-Know your style and stick with it. Chances are you’ve experimented a lot with different clothing styles and now is the time to choose what looks and feels best on you.
- Have a limit. It might be 30 hangers or 50, but don’t allow your closet to intimidate you. You also shouldn’t have to search high and low for an outfit– there shouldn’t be so many clothes that you can’t easily find something or that you can forget about an entire collection of blouses.
- Have a purpose. Before going through your wardrobe, call your local Salvation Army or Not-For-Profit Thrift Store and tell them you have a donation of clothing. When going through your closet and dresser, keep that “good cause” in mind and ask yourself who really needs that item more.
I’ll be honest, this one has been tough for me, to figure out. I’ve tried smaller satchels, I’ve tried larger shoulder bags, I’ve done the backpack purse, and I’ve tried to stuff all my essentials in a cross body. Finally, I’ve settled on a few bags that I use on the regular: A small shoulder bag– my everyday purse that can still fit my water bottle; a tiny cross body– when I’m out on a date with the hubby or making a quick trip; a large shoulder bag– when I need to carry all kinds of stuff with me (think traveling, carrying a laptop, or a trip to the library or farmer’s market).
This might seem like a not-so-minimalist list of bags. But I’ve found that I need a few options depending upon what I find myself doing at any given time.
Even with these 3 bags, I’ve worked to make them as versatile and high quality as possible so that I won’t need to purchase a new one in the near future. They are all neutral colors and can go with any outfit or season. They are all well made and have stood the test of time. I also like the look and feel of all of them, which is pretty important if you ask me.
- Again, know your style. This may take some time, but figure out the look and feel you like rather than what’s trendy or what you’re feeling in the moment.
- Choose a size that’s realistic yet manageable, or, like me, choose a few sizes for very specific occasions. If you choose multiple sizes, make sure each purse can be used in any season and for any occasion. Avoid neon or super bright colors unless that fits with who you are and what you usually wear.
- For if you have multiple purses: Rather than leaving all your stuff inside of your purse, take everything out between trips. You can have one spot for all of it, or you can place everything back where it belongs in your home. This will help you keep your bags less cluttered and will allow you to switch your purses easily if that’s something you feel you need to do.
3- Paper Napkins
This one is simple. I have invested in cloth napkins and I swear I’m never going back to paper. Paper napkins are wasteful and I also find that they don’t work as well as cloth to actually clean surfaces (surfaces like my daughter’s yogurt-covered face, for instance). When we are done using them, they just get thrown in the laundry. I love never having to purchase paper napkins at the store!
- Choose colors and textures that will go with your home decor, or keep it simple and use a solid dark color. I recommend a darker color as opposed to white if you have children or if you like to eat BBQ ribs 😉
4- Plastic Water Bottles
This one is also pretty easy folks. I use a stainless steel water bottle that I refill constantly. I actually don’t even use the cups and glasses we have too often because I’m always drinking out of my water bottle. We’ve invested in a nice water pitcher with a filter so our water is clean and safe for drinking, and this makes it so I never have to purchase bottled water.
- I understand that some people are really into flavored water and soda. We sometimes will purchase soda, but it’s not something we have on hand all the time. Consider infusing your water or making your own simple syrup to sweeten your drinks and make your own “mock tails” of sorts. The hubby and I make a really great lemon cucumber spritzer and it’s a real treat we look forward to. If it becomes a rarity, it becomes something special!
- Give yourself incentive to use a water bottle by investing in a really beautiful one that you like to carry around. There are some gorgeous glass bottles with space for infusing fruit or mint or lemon inside to give your water that extra kick too!
5- Cotton Balls or Cotton Rounds
Instead, I use organic bamboo round pads that are absorbent and washable. I can use them to take off nail polish, remove makeup, or to apply toner as part of my skincare routine.
- Nursing moms, you can also use these as washable nursing pads!
Instead, I exclusively use coconut oil. I find that it’s cheaper and works better, and I enjoy the smell. Many lotions have tons of ingredients (a key one being alcohol) that can actually dry out your skin, which is the opposite of what lotion is meant to do, right? So save yourself $12.99 and a trip to Bath & Body Works–just hit up your local grocery store and get some coconut oil.
- Cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil is best, and will cost you anywhere from $3-7 for a jar, depending on where you purchase it. Be aware that it will solidify in the colder months. I use a small spoon to get it out, then rub it between my hands before applying.
- Coconut oil is also a wonderful oil to cook with and is an ingredient in many DIY products that you can make right in your home (see below!).
7- Face Wash
Don’t worry people; I still wash my face! But I am wary of all the ingredients that most commercial face washes have listed on their ever-so-hard-to-recycle plastic tube. In order to be more thrifty, sustainable, and simplistic in my skincare regimen, I’ve been making my own face wash for about a year now.
- Last month I posted a Facebook Live video of me making the face wash I use on a daily basis with only 3 ingredients. You can also add essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender, or frankincense, depending on your skin type.
- If you’re not a DIY-er, I still encourage you to be conscious of what is actually in the face wash you use. Also, keep in mind that many of the containers that commercial face washes come in are very hard to recycle. Try natural products that are packaged in glass containers. Neal’s Yard has some great options (not a sponsor; just sharing to be helpful).
So… this is only partly true. I did purchase some natural toothpaste in the last month, but after using it a few times, I decided to go back to making my own. Similar to my face wash, I also started making my own toothpaste a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ll go back to purchasing it on the regular ever again. I like making my own because I can control the taste of it, I know exactly what is in it, and I can use my own silicone tubes, so I never have to worry about being wasteful.
- If you are interested, the toothpaste recipe I used is this one. But instead of peppermint flavor, I actually just used peppermint oil, and I also added a few other drops of essential oils that I found to promote health and kill bacteria.
- If you do use the above recipe, please be advised that it gets hard in cold temperatures and very runny in warmer temperatures.
- Again, if you’re not into DIY, that’s totally cool. I’m just sharing because this is something I’ve found to be helpful in my pursuit in sustainable minimalism.
9- Menstrual Pads or Tampons
Instead, I use a silicone menstrual cup and cloth menstrual pads. There are so many great brands of menstrual cups out there; I personally use the Diva Cup, but there are other great options out there.
- Read this post for the best menstrual cups if you’re thinking about this option.
- Some cloth menstrual pads may seem expensive, but if you think about the amount of money you’re saving in the long run, it’s worth is. Besides, Amazon has some unbeatable prices in the area. Here is a great option to get you started if you’d like to go the cloth pad route.
10- Parchment Paper or Foil
It’s only been in the past two years that I’ve started to roast veggies and make some killer sheet pan suppers. I honestly don’t know what took me so long to discover how easy it could be to just chop, season, and stick it in the oven. Once I started, I found that I was going through parchment paper like most people go through paper towels. This made me search for a more sustainable option that would save me time and money at the grocery store.
Enter the silicone baking mat. These are what I use now, and I love them! They are pretty easy to clean, and I never have to worry with foil or parchment paper again.
Here’s a great option if you’re interested in trying these out!
And there you have it: 10 items I no longer buy. What about you? How have you used your pursuit of a minimalist lifestyle to save money and become more sustainable? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!