10 Things I No Longer Buy

10 things i no longer buy

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.

Some tips:

-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.

2- Purses

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.Β  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.

Some tips:

  • 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!

Tip:

  • 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 πŸ˜‰

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.

Some tips:

  • 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.

Tip:Β 

  • Nursing moms, you can also use these as washable nursing pads!

6- Lotion

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.

Some Tips:Β 

  • 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.

Some Tips:

  • 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.Β Neal’s Yard has some great options (not a sponsor; just sharing to be helpful).

8- Toothpaste

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.

Some Tips:

  • 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.

Some Tips:

  • 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.

Tip:

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!

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Stuff That Lasts

high angle view of shoes

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I used to have a poverty mentality when it came to stuff. Like, physical stuff. The poverty mentality is one which decides that more stuff for less money is better because, well, you get more. It’s about the quantity of stuff (food, clothes, gum balls– whatever), not necessarily the quality.

But after one too many “BOGO” sales at Walmart and Rue21, clipping coupons for processed food that I knew wasn’t healthy for me, and that I would never buy unless I had a coupon, as well as after the 10 Hanger Project, I realized that cheap stuff doesn’t usually last.

It was a few years ago that I started to think of my wardrobe as a year-round capsule, with some very seasonal pieces here and there I could stow away for the winter or summer (think shorts and bulky sweaters). With this in mind, I decided to invest in a few very nice, and quality pieces, which I usually got secondhand via consignment stores, eBay, or Thredup. I’m talking things like a pair of J Brand skinny jeans, my Matt & Nat saddlebag, and this super versatile Market & Spruce navy blazer that I’m wearing now. This worked wonders for my tendency to shop for clothes, because I was very specific about what I needed (read: wanted) and would be willing to spend money on.

I started to apply this principal to other items too. Baby products were a go-to, since my little girl is just under 11 months, and most first-time mothers research the heck out of their baby products. But I also tried to think about it with kitchen utensils, household cleaning tools, home decor, and even food.

(Note: With food, think of it as what will make a lasting difference on your health or on your experience of the food, not so much about the quantity or expiration date. Organic chicken has less hormones that will screw up your system, for example, so it might be worth it to spend the extra cash. But that tray of Fanny Bay oysters with butter sauce and $18 glass of Chardonnay may not add to your health, but is worth the splurge when you and your hubby are celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary because you will always remember it and smile. That kind of lasting.)

I’m finding that if I’m careful about researching the quality and functionality of a product, whether an item of clothing or a kitchen gadget, I’m more likely to appreciate it, and also take good care of it. In addition to it simply being of higher quality and lasting longer, my care and pride in these things also make them last.

This is a good lesson to learn. The Tripp Trap high chair my daughter sits in at breakfast will probably be used by all of our kids. My long sleeve wool black dress will likely be a staple in my closet for years to come. Even our stainless steel water bottles will no doubt help us save money for as long as my husband can keep track of them πŸ˜‰

But even these heavily-researched, quality-made, price-compared, and highly-functional items do not fall into the category of “stuff that lasts”.

Tee shirts get holes. Evens ones from Banana Republic. Sheets get stained. Even ones with good reviews and high thread counts. Purses wear out. Even ones that go with every outfit and fit all of your “essentials”. And while I don’t think there is much wrong with hunting for the few quality items that will make your wardrobe functional and fashionable, or that will help you be more sustainable in your cooking and lunch-packing, I cannot deny that for me, it is easy to get swept away by these seemingly lasting things, which are, in all reality, completely temporary.

They are temporary not simply because they all will get holes, stains, or wear and tear. They are temporary because this entire world is passing away. Even your kids are temporary. Even your best friend or your spouse or your mom is temporary.Β Even you are temporary.

Here’s where this post takes a turn, people.

“So we do not loose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing fur us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”Β  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

As a follower of Jesus, part of my job while I’m here on this temporal earth is to stare at the unseen–the eternal– to not become blinded by the transient. And, if I’m honest, I spend far too much time looking at temporary things. My heart, on the surface level, loves things that don’t last. There is always something immediate and attractive that keeps me from anticipating heaven, and all of those unseen things that are little tastes of what is to come.

God has used many things to get me to be smarter about what I spend my money on, and choose to own. For ethical reasons, like: who made it and how were they treated? For practical reasons, like: am I really going to wear that enough to justify the amount on the price tag? But the world still tempts to distract my wandering heart, even in this noble call to minimalism.

I am reminded that spending hours price-comparing a purse that I don’t actually need is not saving me anything, and is actually hindering me from being of use for the spread of God’s Kingdom. Being prideful about the fact that all of the furniture in my home was purchased used or given to us as gifts does nothing to prepare me for my future home in heaven. Researching and reading reviews of the safest and most versatile baby carrier might help me rest easy when I wear my daughter out and about, but it does nothing to foster those invisible Fruits of the Spirit that will help me rest easy in the gracious arms of Jesus.

My point is, even being prudent and wise and a minimalist can make a girl take her focus off of the real point of this life. This time we spend here on earth is merely a blip on the frequency of eternity, and none of our capsule wardrobes, safe carseats, or eco coffee mugs will matter one we get to heaven and see our Savior’s face.

Temporary things don’t matter as much in light of eternity. Peter says that a person can become “so nearsighted that he is blind” (2 Peter 1:8). We are capable of getting so focused on temporary things that we become blind to the things that actually matter. A mouse infestation can make us forget about our future inheritance, eternal security, and the grace that God promises to pour out for us for all eternity. We quickly loose the joy of our salvation and future glory because of a grape juice stain on the carpet. We become focused on the here and now. And it’s not that we shouldn’t pay any attention to the issues that surround us, what we choose to spend money on, or how we choose to do life with our families and friends, but we need to look at all of these things with an eternal lens.

At any moment, I am going to be taken into a new existence. I will not care at all about some of the things I currently obsess with.

So while I’ll probably still be very choosey about what I hang in my closet, and I’ll likely still invest in grass-fed beef over the cheaper tubes they sell at my local grocery store, I will remember that these things are not a part of that category of “stuff that lasts”, and I will fix my heart, my treasure, and my eyes on what truly is. The invisible stuff. The God stuff. The real stuff that lasts.