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Are you interested in living a simpler life with less clutter while saving money, your health, and the environment?
This article will give you some zero waste and minimalistic ideas on how to do that.
These two lifestyles have a lot of similarities.
The main idea is to avoid mindless consumerism by purchasing fewer things that are of higher quality and created sustainably.
This will result in a few things:
- You will become a mindful consumer, resulting in buying only things you truly need.
- You will save money as you will purchase & need less stuff.
- You will feel happier and more fulfilled, as you will 1) live in alignment with your values, 2) your choices won’t hurt our planet or your health, and 3) you will live a clutter-free, healthy life.
Before we start, know that minimalism and zero waste will look different for everyone.
Also, don’t get me wrong; there are no strict rules to this list.
It is possible that occasionally, I buy some of these things.
By no means I consider myself perfect at living a zero waste & minimalist lifestyle, but I am always trying to improve while focusing on what works for me. 🙂
The main purpose of this list is to give you ideas and alternatives that will save you money and are better for you and the environment!
Now, let’s jump to the 50+ things I stopped buying since adopting a more minimal & zero waste lifestyle.
1. Makeup removal + makeup
I’ve never been into makeup, and I rarely buy things, so I never needed a makeup removal.
Whenever I use (usually an eyeliner), I use water or a bit of coconut oil to remove it, and it works great.
Also, having a few makeup products that you use on a daily basis (or almost) is all good.
But an excessive amount of makeup products, while buying more regularly, is completely unnecessary.
2. Cotton rounds
I used to get the single-use cotton rounds, but I realized I don’t really need them.
A simple piece of cloth will do the job, whenever required. There are great reusable cotton round alternatives, too.
3. Face or body scrubs
The store-bought face or body scrubs are in plastic tubes and often filled with nasty ingredients.
There are excellent and super simple DIY options, like sugar or coffee scrub.
4. Face masks
Similar to the face scrubs, the face masks come in plastic and have questionable ingredients. My favorite DIY face mask is usually with matcha powder or clay, and it works great!
5. Nail polish
I used to buy nail polish once in a while, but I stopped completely. Now, I have one color.
Once I finish it, I would borrow a few from a friend, or possibly buy 1-2 more colors, that I will use for a long period.
6. Cleaning products
Cleaning products are full of horrible stuff, and the truth is that you don’t need different products for your kitchen, bathroom, windows, etc.
You can clean the whole house with a simple DIY solution or a multi-purpose NON-toxic detergent. (a DIY recipe is coming soon!)
7. Ziplock bags
I never bought these, but I had a few from airplane trips. Instead of getting ziplock bags, you can get reusable ones.
You can find baggies made from recycled fabrics on Etsy or reusable silicone baggies.
Related post: Zero Waste Ziploc Bags: 8 Reusable Alternatives
8. Grocery bags
Instead of single-use plastic bags, you can use reusable ones that you already have at home.
You will for sure find cotton bags or a backpack at home, that you can use.
Related post: 11 Ways To Reduce The Use Of Plastic Bags
Souvenirs are unnecessary purchases, in my opinion, unless you want something special to remind you of a location.
However, you can take some nice pictures and print them out.
In that way, you can place it in a frame and have a pleasant memory, instead of a physical item that will collect dust.
10. Home decor
Again, if you want something, you can try to DIY it or buy a plant. 🙂
11. Fabric softener
There is simply no need for that.
If you want a cheap and minimalist alternative, you can use distilled white vinegar. It acts as a natural fabric softener and leaves no residue on the laundry.
12. Air freshener
These aren’t the most natural ones, and if you want fresh air, you can add a few essential oil drops in a bottle, with some water, and spray around.
13. Body wash
Most body washes come in a plastic bottle, and it just adds additional clutter to your bathroom if you already have a bunch of things.
Use a bar of soap, it works perfectly fine, and you can find incredible natural, plastic-free, and cheap options.
14. Shampoo and conditioner bottles
15. Shaving cream
A regular bar of soap will do the job perfectly fine, too, so no need for shaving creams.
16. Plastic razors
Instead of buying plastic single-use razors every few weeks, you can get a stainless steel safety razor and use it for… well, technically forever, if you take good care of it.
The only thing you will need to change every couple of weeks is the super cheap razor blades.
Related post: Zero Waste Shaving: How To Use Safety Razors
17. Face powder and foundation
I used to get these once in a while, but I almost stopped (now it’s something like once in 2-3 years?).
However, if you like such products, use all of them before purchasing a new one.
Also, find more natural and eco-friendly brands, which will most likely be better for your skin. You can find such brands in my post here.
Once again, a plain soap can substitute fancy and not that necessary face wash products.
Of course, if you have some skin issues (I feel you!) and need a specific product that helps, don’t feel obligated to stop using it.
19. Single-use cotton earbuds
These are entirely unnecessary, and they can do more bad than good.
It is recommended not to use cotton buds inside your ear, as it can be harmful to your eardrums.
Once in a while, I use this eco-friendly bamboo alternative (Oriculi).
20. Dry shampoo
You can DIY dry shampoo, and the best part is that it’s super easy.
If you have brown hair color, mix one part baking soda, one part cocoa powder, and voila – you have your homemade dry shampoo!
If you are blond or with a lighter color, use baking soda alone.
Related post: How to make DIY dry shampoo at home: 3 ways
An unnecessary product that I can live without.
Of course, you can also DIY it if you would like to keep using it.
22. Period products
Single-use period products are wasteful, uncomfortable, and not even the most hygienic and healthy option, as some have pretty nasty chemicals.
It is alarming, as it touches a sensitive zone.
Related post: Save $5,337 by avoiding these 14 products
23. Hair products
I used to like hair masks and hair styling products, but I realized there are cheaper and better things that I can use for my hair.
Now, I love to use coconut, argan, jojoba, or sweet almond oil before showering – as a mask, or after showering -a tiny bit for my ends.
If I want something fancier, I will find easy hair masks that require 2-3 ingredients that I usually have in my pantry.
24. New phone
I bought my phone second-hand three years ago, and the previous one that I had was also second-hand.
Before, I was doing it just because I knew it was cheaper.
After I learn how unsustainable it is to get new mobile phones, I will always prefer to purchase them second-hand.
25. Phone accessories
I have been using one single case and screen protector since I got my phone, and I’m pretty happy with them.
You don’t need new trendy phone accessories.
In my current place, I have a TV, but it’s a rented apartment.
While I was living in Denmark for 4 years, I didn’t have a TV, and I never missed it.
You can use your laptop for almost anything in our current digital age, so I don’t mind living without a TV.
27. New electronics
My hairdryers and straightener, nut milk maker (Soya Bella), and laptop mouse are all second-hand.
I always try to find electronics that I need in secondhand markets, as it is better for the environment and better for my pocket.
FOOD / KITCHEN:
28. Frozen food
It might be convenient, but it is always in plastic packaging, so I prefer to buy fresh produce.
29. Extra kitchen items
Keeping your kitchen tidy, with just the items you truly need, can be challenging.
However, keep in mind in that way, you will have less stuff for washing. So, that can be a good motivator.
Also, it looks aesthetically pleasing when there is no clutter, and it is more spacious.
30. Chips and similar snacks
Another type of food that comes in plastic and it often has many fats, oils, and coloring, which isn’t the healthiest.
Find a bulk store or a section in a regular store, and get some nuts and snacks they offer in your reusable bags or jars.
Additionally, there are plenty of sustainable snacks with compostable packaging to choose from.
31. Paper towels
They can be convenient, but have you tried using a reusable cloth towel?
It is way better for the environment, as you will reuse it over and over again.
Additionally, you can make reusable cloth towels from an old t-shirt or a towel.
32. Aluminum foil
We often use aluminum foil as a single-use product.
I prefer to avoid it altogether, or if I need to wrap something up, I will use a cotton cloth or a wax wrap that keeps food fresh for longer.
33. Garbage bags
There are plenty of ways to collect your trash without a garbage bag!
I wrote an article that gives you 6 zero waste alternatives to trash bags.
34. Coffee filter
Using a french press or a Moka pot will remove the need to use single-use coffee filters.
35. Dish sponge
Dish sponges are a petroleum-based product, which is not biodegradable, and it gets soggy and nasty super fast.
36. Sauces in plastic bottles
There are tons of sauce recipes online, so buying the ones from the store doesn’t make sense.
With just a few ingredients from your pantry, you can make AMAZING homemade sauces.
37. Reusable bags
Having more than 5 reusable bags is MORE than enough, and it is pointless to buy more of them.
Even if they are reusable, overconsumption isn’t the way to go.
I don’t remember using toothpicks almost at all, so I keep it that way.
I would instead brush my teeth or use zero waste floss.
39. Baking paper
Since I got my reusable silicone baking mats, I almost stopped using baking paper.
However, since I love cooking, I will have a baking paper pack in case I need it for something specific.
Yet, I lowered the use of it, and now I buy it probably once a year.
40. Trendy clothing
Fast fashion has A LOT of disadvantages, and I do not support it.
Plus, having so much cheap and trendy clothing isn’t good for me anyway.
Before, I was buying something simply because it was too cheap, but most times, I wear the item a couple of times, at most, and that was it.
Now, I buy something only if I REALLY love the thing and genuinely need it.
Related post: 15 Zero Waste Clothing Brands (Cheap & Ethical)
41. Special occasion outfits
If I am going to ski or hiking, or if it is a holiday like Halloween, I will either:
- Borrow special equipment (most likely from a friend or a shop)
- DIY something
This saves money, and it prevents clutter.
I used to like having a bunch of bracelets, necklaces, etc. With time, I almost stopped wearing jewelry.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to buy more. I use what I have from before, and if I like and want something, I will support individual ethical sellers.
It is best to have a few main accessories that are neutral, and you can wear them with almost all of your clothes.
44. New clothes
I rarely buy new clothes. If I need something, I will buy it secondhand (or organize a clothing swap).
If can’t find what I need, I will buy it from ethical, trustworthy brands that suit my style and budget.
Related post: 39 Best Online Thrift Stores
I used to love buying planners, notebooks, and similar paper items.
So now, I have 4 of them that I’ve been using for more than 3-4 years.
I recommend using everything you already have, and once you finish all of them, you can get a new one.
46. Single-use items
I’m trying to find a reusable alternative to most of the single-use items I need.
I avoid all disposable options, to the best of my abilities.
Related post: 142 Zero Waste Products: The Ultimate List
47. Wet wipes
Wet wipes are a non-biodegradable, entirely useless, unsustainable product that I (and probably you) can live without perfectly fine.
48. Phone subscription
I do not have a monthly subscription; I use a prepaid sim card to fill up whenever I need it.
And as most places have wi-fi anyway, I need it very rarely, which saves me money.
I’ve been just getting digital books and Audiobooks, even though I prefer the feeling of holding a book.
If I want to read a book and get a physical copy, I will first try to borrow from a friend or a library.
When I was a kid, I loved getting magazines, but it just doesn’t make sense in our current digital age.
51. Takeaway food
I prefer to cook my food, and it is super rare if I order food.
Yet, it occasionally happens to get takeaway food, but I always try to either go to the place, get the food in my containers, or order something with paper packaging.
52. Gift wrapping
Gift wrapping paper is another useless item, as it is ripped apart in seconds, and there are way cooler ways to wrap a gift.
Furoshiki is one of them, and it looks great.
53. Artificial fragrances
Most artificial fragrances contain synthetic chemicals; they often are petroleum-based and can be harmful to human health.
So, avoiding these will be the best option.
For something fancy and harder, I will go to a hairdresser.
However, I’ve been growing my hair, so I cut it by myself most of the time.
It is easy to trim the edges a bit, and I think it is pointless to go every two months to a hairdresser for that.
55. Eco-friendly products I don’t need
It is relatively easy to slip and get many cool, eco-friendly products… that you don’t need.
So, try to be mindful and don’t buy things just because they look cool and are sustainable.
This list can include many more items, but there are already a bunch of things, and I don’t want to overwhelm you!
Again, I’m not strictly following this list, as there might be exceptions, but genuinely, I try to avoid something if I know:
- I can live without it
- It is not sustainable
- There are better alternatives
While I try to do my best, I’m far from perfect, and sometimes, I still buy things in plastic. You can find a list with the items that I can’t find plastic-free here.
I’m curious to hear if there is something you would like to add, or is there something that you can’t give up from this list?
Let me know in the comments below!