It’s been a number of years since I embraced a minimalist lifestyle. I realised recently that there are a bunch of things I stopped buying as a minimalist. Some items required me to make a conscious choice to change my habits in order to not purchase them. Other things just stopped finding their way into my shopping cart!
Today, I’m sharing 15 items I no longer buy and that, in reality, I didn’t need to be happy or feel fulfilled in my life. It was interesting to compile this list because I found it reflected quite well the concept that minimalism is not about deprivation or lack.
It’s not necessarily about trying to avoid spending money or not ever buying things. What minimalism does do is provide plenty of opportunities to practice resourcefulness and escape mindless consumerism. I discovered a wonderful opportunity to develop mindfulness and appreciation for the true value of things and experiences.
These realisations over time have helped me to stop buying for the sake of buying, buying out of habit or buying to fill an emotional void. I’ve also found ways to honor my zero-waste or at least eco-friendly aspirations.
Here are 15 things I’ve stopped buying since I embraced a minimalist lifestyle.
We do need to drink water every day, but it’s so much more economical and environmentally-friendly to carry water in a reusable glass or metal bottle.( This article talks about the benefits of glass vs metal vs plastic containers for water.)
The most important consideration in buying a water bottle is ultimately reusability and durability. I fill my glass water bottle with tap water, but if you’re not happy with your area’s water quality, investing in a water filter is money well spent. (And you’ll absolutely save in the long run).
It’s so tempting to buy the next best kitchen gadget (believe me, as an enthusiastic home cook, I feel the struggle). But ultimately, kitchen appliances that advertise their time-saving and other culinary capabilities can end up bringing a LOT of clutter into a kitchen.
Is it absolutely necessary to have one appliance for every single possible activity that can be done in the kitchen? To be honest, a pot, a knife and two hands (and maybe a spoon!) are perfectly capable of making kitchen magic!
I do have some very beloved (and much used) kitchen appliances like a blender, a french press, and a pressure cooker. I’d just encourage you to not get pulled in by advertisements persuading you to buy ‘essential’ appliances you can do perfectly well without.
Consider the way you cook, what will (truly) save you time in the kitchen, what you use on a very regular basis, and let this guide your purchases.
I love a tastefully decorated home. I have decor items that have no use except that they ‘inspire joy’ in me.
But I think this is the whole point. What is the reason behind purchasing decor items? Do you love every single piece of decor in your home? Do you regularly browse home decor stores looking for something to buy, another piece that looks cute to put…somewhere? Is there any meaning at all behind these pieces?
Home decor can be a major cause of clutter. Cleaning, dusting, moving decor items around to find things used to take up a lot of my time.
Now I simply don’t buy home decor anymore. As a result, I have less to clean, tidy, and arrange. My home is more spacious. My few decor items reflect me and my favorite memories and experiences, and not the latest trends.
I’m a reader. Looking at my home though, this wouldn’t be immediately apparent. Books could be considered single-use items in that there are very few you’ll re-read regularly. They take up a lot of space, and there’s the consideration of sustainability to consider too.
I do have a special collection of favorite books that I keep at home, but I’ve moved over to audiobooks and ebooks almost completely. I love that I can store as many books in my Kindle as I want and carry it with me everywhere! Audiobooks have become a firm favorite too, allowing me to ‘read’ while doing things around the house or exercising.
SINGLE USE ITEMS
Like bottled water, I no longer buy takeaway coffee, microwave dinners, plastic straws, plastic bags, or sandwich bags. I’ve moved over to tupperware, taking my own coffee mug and reusable bags and straws.
Single use items are basically money that you throw away (besides being no good for zero-waste goals). This was definitely one of my more challenging, but ultimately feel-good and worthwhile group of items I stopped buying.
I’ve fallen in love with DIY cleaning products. They’re budget-friendly, non-toxic and super effective as well. I no longer have an entire cupboard dedicated to a vast array of cleaning products for every type of dirt, stain and surface. Good old baking soda, vinegar and water get the job done 99% of the time!
You can find my favorite cleaning product recipes and eco-friendly cleaning hacks here.
My job and lifestyle doesn’t require me to have the latest iphone or laptop or piece of technology. I stopped trying to keep up with the constant call to have the most recent, the most powerful and the fastest.
I don’t buy the latest anything unless a device breaks, becomes obsolete, or no longer fulfills the purpose I need it for.
JEWELRY and ACCESSORIES
I stopped buying jewelry and accessories that I thought I wanted or needed and ended up never seeing the light of day.
To me, jewelry and accessories are all about functionality and how often I wear or use them. I have a few favorite jewelry pieces including earrings and a watch that I wear regularly. For summer I have a great summer hat and bag. For winter I love my woolen hat and scarf.
Jewelry and accessories used to be big clutter-gatherers in my home. I’m really happy with the carefully curated collection of versatile pieces I own now.
The true cost of fast fashion is a sad reality: cheap labor, damage to the environment and a low quality product in your closet.
Closing that door and going the slow fashion route is a decision I’ve never regretted. Gone are the days when slow fashion meant dowdy, boring and limited style choices. You can find a collection of my favorite eco-friendly brands that are stylish and beautiful here.
The idea of having souvenirs from travels or events can be more pleasant than the reality of dealing with the clutter they cause. My souvenirs ended up in boxes or gathering dust on a shelf.
I’ve found that photos and videos preserve my memories of travels and special moments far better than trinkets. I make sure to take some great shots and forgo the souvenir stand.
Almost like single use items, special event outfits often get worn once and then relegated to the back of a closet. For the odd wedding, black tie event or special occasion, I’ve always managed to hire or borrow something beautiful.
I used to pay for a ton of apps and subscriptions online. I’d get regular emails from my subscriptions cluttering up my mailbox. After I did a thorough digital declutter to simplify my digital life, I promised myself I’d never join another subscription again!
No more digital clutter, nice organized email – I’m happy!
This is a relatively easy way to contribute to a healthier environment. I read what I’m interested in online and limit buying printed items.
THINGS ON SALE
This falls in with the philosophy of mindful or conscious shopping, something I wrote more about here. I don’t buy things simply because they’re on sale – a sure way to clutter up closets and rooms. From sad experience I’ve learned that I rarely needed or used the bargains I gleefully discovered.
What helps me is to know very clearly why I’m going shopping and to stick to that purpose. Developing a capsule wardrobe of clothing I absolutely love has also tamed a constant search for the perfect top or dress. When I decide to add to my wardrobe, I go straight for the shops or brands that suit my style and ethics.
BRAND NEW FURNITURE
On the rare occasion I need to purchase a piece of furniture, I enjoy finding good quality items at flea markets or yard sales.
It’s great to find pieces that have stood the test of time, proven their quality and craftsmanship and have character. It can be fun to match a furniture piece to my style and discover something that will add personality to my home.
It’s also eco-friendly to find furniture that you can reuse, even if a little spit and polish is needed.
Minimalism is not about deprivation. (Here’s a fun list of 7 things Minimalism is not). I found a great YouTube video by Sheldon Evans where his advice is to spend money where you spend most of your time.
So if you work from home, you’d spend money on great quality items that are functional and necessary to making your home a happy and comfortable place to be. If you’re an avid mountain climber, you’d buy fantastic, up-to-date gear that would keep you safe and climbing for years.
When you do spend money, it should be to add real value and enrich your experience of life. In this way, minimalism encourages intentionality and mindfulness.
Ask yourself ‘why’ as often as possible. Why do I want to buy this chair? Do I need 12 mugs? Why do I have 2 cars? Why do I have that painting on the wall? Do these things make me feel good? If so, why?
Dig deep and uncover what lies at the root of your habits, your wants and the things you do and have and purchase.
At the very least you’ll learn more about yourself and develop understanding and insight into your actions and habits. You may even discover a freedom of existence that doesn’t depend on possessions or acquisition. Go for a life based on joyful experiences, create amazing memories, and find fulfillment in the simple things of life.