Since shifting my lifestyle and my financial habits to focus on sustainability, there’s a lot of things that I am no longer buying and it’s helping me save money. Now, while the savings are really nice, that’s actually not why I do it. My primary reason with sustainable living is to have less of an impact on the earth, because we are living through a climate crisis. I do believe that we need top level sustainable change, but I also think it’s really helpful for individuals to make more sustainable lifestyle choices. And honestly, I just enjoy living this way, it feels right to me, and it makes me happy. Here’s 7 things I no longer buy to help save the planet.
1. Special Event Clothing
I’m in a stage of my life, where it’s a lot of weddings, and it’s a lot of babies. That means a lot of events and you have to have cute outfits for all of them. Our “normal,” consumerist mindset tells us well, you should have a different outfit for each event. If I’m a guest at your wedding, nobody cares what I am wearing. I’m not the bride, They’re focused on the couple that just got married. No one is going to remember what I wore when I was sitting at table seven.
There’s no need for me to buy a new outfit for every single wedding that I get invited to, because I’m attending three to five weddings a year. And that’s really not enough times to justify dropping $200 on a new dress each time. I recently borrowed a gorgeous dress for a wedding from one of my family members. So I got to show up to these weddings looking super hot for $0. There’s just no need for me to be buying fancy clothes when I have access to them for free.
I bought myself my first menstrual cup about nine years ago. Let me tell you, a game changer. Certainly menstrual cups definitely come with a learning curve, I want to be upfront about that. And each one costs anywhere between 25 and $40. So there is an upfront investment. But considering I get my period every month and you can use a single cup for up to five years, it’s an investment that makes sense. So let’s say you spend $70 a year on tampons. Within one year, your menstrual cup is actually going to pay for itself, let alone five years. $70 per year on tampons times five years is 350 bucks. If we subtract a $35 menstrual cup from that, that leaves us $315 bucks that we’ve saved. Not too shabby.
Now, I do want to be clear. If you are a tampon-using guest at my house, I do have tampons for you. I think that’s just polite. Not everyone is using a menstrual cup. So I do keep some tampons at my house for guests.
3. Plastic Utensils
No longer using plastic utensils definitely comes out of my desire to be more sustainable and to reduce my waste creation. Honestly, at this point in my life, very few things get me heated as much as plastic utensils because people use them once and toss them in the trash. Then they sit in that landfill or they end up in the ocean and they are there for the next 500 years because it takes plastic for ever to break down. Now I totally understand the utility of plastic utensils. If you’re a parent or you’re a disabled person reading this, I really want you to know I’m not like singling you out and yelling at you. I’m just sharing my frustration with this systemic problem that we have.
Now when I host a party or a backyard barbecue, I just use my normal metal silverware. I have a ton of it and it’s endlessly reusable. So if I have to run the dishwasher, or stand in front of the sink for 10 minutes to clean some forks and knives during the party, I’m more than happy to do that. When I travel, I have reusable bamboo utensils. I just keep this little kit that has a fork knife, straw spoon, and one of those water bottle cleaners in my backpack. So I am never caught without utensils and I don’t have to use plastic utensils on the go.
4. Single Use Plastic Water Bottles
I got a water bottle for free at a conference about four years ago, and I’m still using it nearly every day. Just like my bamboo utensils. I just keep it in my backpack. And the truth is y’all that conferences are an absolute goldmine for free reusable water bottles. It’s like the number one company swag out there.
I actually have about six reusable metal water bottles that I’ve gotten totally for free. I’m always happy to take one of these at a conference because I grab them for me and my partner. I never ever buy single use plastic water bottles because I’m lucky that I am almost always near a potable water source. I don’t mind drinking tap water. I know some Americans don’t like it. I think that’s weird. Tap water is great, especially my tap water. Maybe maybe your tap water is garbage. I want to allow for that. But I just put my tap water in my reusable water bottle and then I hit the road. And yes, I am definitely that American abroad who goes everywhere with my water bottle. I know it looks weird. I know it’s an American stereotype and I don’t care. I love my water bottle.
5. Shaving Cream
What a scam shaving cream is for ladies legs! First of all, shaving was just created in like the 1920s as a way to sell more stuff like shaving your legs is the ultimate capitalist scam in my opinion. But shaving cream is just a continuation of this scam. These companies were like don’t just use the soap you already own you have to get this brand new product that can only be used in this one way. I stopped buying shaving cream about 10 years ago and it’s totally fine. I just use a little bit of conditioner, or if I’m on the road, I just use soap. Then, when I get out of the shower, I moisturize like a son of a gun because soap can be very drying and I tend to have dry skin anyway. There’s no need for shaving cream. So that’s something I stopped buying and I’ve been stacking those savings.
PSA to everyone: when you’re in the shower and you’re trying to get clean, you have to put the soap on something else and then use that something else to wash your body. I’ve seen a lot of discourse around this on Tiktok and on Instagram about how people are washing. You shouldn’t put the soap directly on your skin. It can be very dehydrating and you don’t get the same kind of scrub.
For a long time I did use loofahs, but growing up what we used a wash cloth and recently I’ve made the switch back to wash cloths. This is something you can get at Target. You can get a five pack for like seven bucks. You put your body wash or your soap on there, scrub yourself down, and then you wash it in the washing machine.
As someone who lives in hot places, the sweat, the sunscreen the dirt, it sticks to you and you’ve got to scrub. I don’t want to use loofahs because loofahs are essentially cute balls of plastic, You use it for a while and you toss it in the trash. Then, where’s it gonna go? Let me hear you say it! The landfill.
With the washcloths you use them, you throw them in the laundry and then you use them again. They can last for years and they’re really good reusable option. You can also grow natural luffa and they will grow in your garden or you can order them online and those are compostable. Those will break down because those are a literal plant and they’re not made of plastic. So if that’s your luffa of choice, I support that sustainable choice.
7. Sparkling Water
Finally, the last one is canned sparkling water for at-home use. I got a SodaStream for Christmas like two and a half three years ago and it is amazing. My partner and I are huge sparkling water drinkers. We love it. We drink it year-round. But we were buying like one to two cases a week because we love it so much and even though aluminum is much more recyclable than plastic, our waste was really beginning to pile up. Neither one of us felt good about that.
Having the Sodastream in our home allows us to cut way back on our aluminum usage. Now I will say we definitely still buy those like 12 packs of sparkling water when we are invited over to a friend’s house or we’re going to a party or something like that. That’s often what we choose to bring. So we haven’t totally eliminated this, but we have cut back like 70% thanks to the Sodastream.
So those are seven things I no longer buy to help save the planet. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video below to learn more.