I published an Instagram post recently with 10 things I no longer buy and it received a lot of comments. So I thought I would expand on it a bit here with 20 things I don’t buy to save money and waste.
There are very many items that we view as essentials today that our great grandparents wouldn’t have recognised. They would have been bemused by so many of them!
Some of them create a lot of waste and pollution. From the chemicals they are made from, the plastics that package them, and the energy used to produce and transport them, if at least some of them didn’t exist the planet would be all the better for it.
There are often reusable alternatives for these items. Where there are, I have made some suggestions.
They also add to the shopping bill. When you are on a tight budget, I would suggest doing without them altogether or finding something that can be used time and again instead.
Saving money on a regular basis could help you to build up a cushion against emergencies or save for something you really need or want. (Check out this post to find out how to get £10 free to start a rainy day fund and this one explaining why you need an emergency fund).
Another advantage of not buying unnecessary stuff is that you end up with less clutter in your home.
Here are some of the things I don’t buy to save money and reduce the waste we produce.
20 things I don’t buy to save money and waste
1# Air fresheners
I really dislike air fresheners. Not only do they not ‘freshen’ the air, they fill it with chemical pollutants that you and your family then inhale.
A can of spray air freshener somehow made it into our house about 5 years ago. Since none of us bother with it, it is sitting redundant on the loo. I won’t throw it out until it is empty as maybe visitors will use it.
The plug in air fresheners that spurt out perfume every so often are the worst. They actually make me feel unwell. Yuck!
2# Liquid soap
I stopped buying liquid soap years ago. The solid stuff is nicer I think, and comes in just a fraction of the packaging. I try to buy it wrapped in card or paper rather than plastic film if I can.
3# Services I can do myself
These vary from time to time with me but generally speaking I do my own house cleaning, wash my own car, dye my hair myself, decorate the house and do the garden. In fact, I actually enjoy the latter!
I have even been known to cut my own hair, but I don’t have the skills to do it all the time. The fringe is easy enough and I can take the ends off, but wouldn’t like to take more than a few centimetres off. Some things are best left to the professionals.
However, I do appreciate that some folk work longer hours than I do or don’t have a handy Mr Shoestring to help, so these may not be possible for everyone.
4# Bottled water
These days I am pretty good at remembering to take a reusable water bottle with me. On the rare occasions I forget, if I have to buy a bottle of water it then gets reused several times.
We are fortunate to have safe, clean tap water in the UK, so why people buy the bottled stuff to drink at home is a mystery to me. It creates a huge amount of plastic waste as well as adding to the grocery bill. Definitely best avoided!
5# Useless gifts
I would rather give someone money or a voucher to be spent on an item they really want than purchase a generic gift set or novelty present that will end up in the charity bag or – worst of all – the bin.
In my view, it is always best to ask what a family member or friend would like for birthdays and Christmas. A surprise is only a good idea if you know the person really well!
If your budget is really small, a home made cake or other consumable can be a good idea.
6# Loads of different cleaning products
Advertisers are very good at making us believe we need a different, chemical laden product for each area of our homes. What’s the difference between a cleaning spray for the kitchen and one for the bathroom?
All of these things come in plastic bottles with unrecyclable nozzles. I prefer to use more natural items like bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, which can be used throughout the house. Sometimes I even make my own cleaning spray in a glass spray bottle.
I no longer have a cupboard bursting at the seams with miscellaneous products, so there is less clutter as well.
7# Coffee pods and filters
Much as I enjoy a coffee, I am no connoisseur. So a decent instant is good enough for me (I prefer Milicano), although I do love to froth up the milk with my little coffee frother*!
I just couldn’t buy those little capsules and machines to use them in. Too much waste and expense.
8# Cotton wool pads
I used to get through masses of cotton wool pads to take my make up off. Now I prefer to use washable and reusable bamboo ones*.
They work just as well, and come with a little drawstring bag which can be tossed straight into the washing machine.
9# Disposable razors
These still make it into the house, as I haven’t been able to convert Mr S yet (there is still time). However, I haven’t bought a disposable plastic razor since Christmas 2018, when my daughter bought me this Bambaw one*.
I haven’t had any issues with it and have only changed the blade about three times. They last for ages, and the razor itself should pretty much last forever.
10# Pre-chopped meat and vegetables
I have never understood why people are prepared to pay so much more to have their carrots sliced or their chicken breast chopped up!
In the case of the vegetables in particular, you end up with a lot more plastic packaging buying pre-chopped. It literally takes a few seconds to chop your own, folks!
I make an exception for yellow stickered items, which save money and stop the food going to waste.
11# New clothing
OK, I can’t hand on heart say I NEVER buy new clothing. I do get my underwear new and did buy a new dress a year or so ago :).
However generally speaking, there is very little in my wardrobe that wasn’t second hand. I am not a fan of fast fashion as it is so polluting. Also, by buying pre-owned clothes, I can afford better quality.
Here is a post on the benefits of buying second hand clothing.
12# Disposable dishcloths
I can’t remember the last time I bought a disposable dishcloth. The cloth ones are better in my opinion, as long as they are washed frequently. I also soak them in a little disinfectant most evenings.
When they are too tatty for the dishes they go in the cleaning basket to clean the bathroom.
13# Shower gel
I have never got on with shower gel. Too faffy when you have water in your eyes! As with hand soap, this is a pointless expense and another way to avoid plastic bottles.
14# Christmas cards
I haven’t bought any Christmas cards for a few years now, partly because I have such a large stash I haven’t needed to! Christmas cards are things you can easily pick up each year, forgetting you have a box from the previous festive period.
However, last Christmas I decided not to sent any at all, partly to save money and partly to prevent waste. The vast majority of cards will end up being thrown away come the new year anyway.
I have kept a small stash for older relatives, who haven’t gone digital. Everyone else got an email or Facebook message wishing them a happy Christmas.
15# Christmas wrap
Last Christmas I wrote about how I had joined a campaign to #cutthewrap and I didn’t buy any Christmas wrap at all. Instead, I used the stash of gift bags that I always keep when receiving presents. I also had some wrap from gifts that I had carefully opened and folded for reuse.
After that, I used scraps of fabric and old scarves found at the charity shop. The recipients of my gifts mostly gave me them back for reuse as soon as they had been opened or kept them to use themselves.
16# Newspapers and magazines
I get my news online, from the TV or from the radio so no longer buy newspapers. My dad does, but he gives me his old ones to package my eBay sales with!
I kicked my magazine habit years ago. They may be pretty and glossy, but they are also incredibly expensive and full of adverts for things I can’t afford or don’t want anyway.
17# Clothes that are dry clean only
The only things I have purchased that are dry clean only have been second hand items of clothing that I think I can risk careful hand washing. Honestly, apart from tailored suits with a high wool content, why does anything need to be dry clean only?
It’s not only coats and jackets either. I have come across dresses and tops that are dry clean. As most people would only wear these once or twice at the most, that is one expensive piece of clothing! The dry cleaning process also involves a lot of nasty chemicals, so no thanks.
18# Disposable plates, cups and cutlery
I used to buy these for parties, especially when my kids were small. Then I worked out it was better to invest in some Ikea plastic beakers to bring out on these occasions, for the children anyway.
Now I always use real plates, cutlery and glasses. I have enough for my extended family, mainly bought second hand at boot sales and in charity shops. There is also a stash of cheap glass wine goblets under the bed.
19# Premium branded groceries
I have never believed that branded groceries are that much better than supermarket own brands, so I avoid them (the exceptions being my Milicano coffee and Yorkshire tea, where I really can taste the difference).
I don’t go for the premium ‘finest’ supermarket items either. They tend to be for pre-prepared and processed dishes that I can make myself.
20# Canned soup
I absolutely love making – and eating – soup! It is the frugal cook’s friend, as you can make it from pretty much anything and use up all your odds and ends. I wrote about why everyone should make soup in this post.
Once you have got into making soup, you will never want to eat the canned stuff again – too sweet or salty and full of cheap ingredients to thicken it.
You don’t need a special soup maker either, just a large pan, a knife and maybe a hand blender* if you like a smooth consistency.
I am sure there are more things I don’t buy to save money and waste. What have you stopped buying and why?
This post contains affiliate links, marked with *. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission to help support my site. Thanks!