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LIVING,  SIMPLE LIVING

Things I No Longer Buy – Resulting in Cheaper, Greener Living

When Jared and I first got married life was crazy busy, for the first few years I was in university full-time (including the summers), I worked full-time in the summer and began and ran my photography business (think: weddings nearly every weekend).

I think that plays a large part in why we didn’t eat very healthy or shop very green. That kind of living was never on my radar, I just didn’t have the mental capacity to fit it in there.

In the last few years life has really slowed down for me. I took maternity leave with Raeca and then worked as a substitute teacher, teaching very very part-time for a few years and haven’t worked since the beginning of last winter (minus a few family photo sessions) in order to spend time at home bonding with Ephraim and figuring out our life as a family of four.

Recently I was thinking about some stuff that we used to buy on a regular basis that we no longer purchase, and don’t even miss. I thought it might be a useful list for some others out there who are looking to live a little simpler.

KITCHEN & FOOD

napkins – I grew up in a family that had paper napkins at every meal, so it was a little weird at first not to use them, but we use cotton cloths for the kids (and I usually end up using it too), and some how Jared just eats so neatly he never needs anything.

taco seasoning – I just make my own, using this recipe. I love that I can control the salt and the heat, I’m hoping to slowly increase the heat as soon as the kids can start handling spicier foods.

granola bars – we make our own of these too. That way we get to make sure they are gluten free and get to say good bye to most of the preservatives. I’ve been using this recipe for years (it’s simple but you can always add in whatever extras you want).

yogurt – okay, so I’ve only made this once so far (using this recipe) but I totally see myself never buying yogurt again. First, by making your own you control the ingredients and second, it’s so much cheaper! I don’t know how much yogurt is everywhere else but a small tub of the stuff we like is usually $3.50 regular price and with this recipe I’ve been able to fill one of those tubs for only $1.00-$1.50.

CLEANING

window cleaner – I bought a Norwex window cloth the summer after we were married and never used window cleaner again. I love, love Norwex (no, I don’t sell it or get anything for saying that, it’s just the truth). All you need is their window cloth and water, and bam, it’s completely streak free; windows, mirrors, stainless steel sinks . . . (I even using it for cleaning my glasses, it works the best!)

cleaning spray – just a mix of water and vinegar (and essential oils if you want) and voila, you’ve got an all purpose cleaning spray. I put mine in an old Windex spray bottle since I don’t have any use for it (I do 2 cups water and 1 cup of vinegar then 10-20 drops of essential oils).

BATHROOM & BEAUTY

shaving cream – I said adios to shaving cream some time last year, I just use coconut oil instead, I find it works better and makes my legs feel smoother and more moisturized afterwards, plus it’s better for the environment!

conditioner – I’m still using a slight amount of vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle (here is my “recipe”). I don’t notice a difference from using this mix to using conditioner, so why not go with the cheaper and greener method.

hand soap – I make my own foaming hand soap for one of our bathrooms, the only reason I don’t for the other one is because I don’t have another foaming soap pump/bottle. I should really get one and then I’ll make it for both bathrooms.

deodorant – I’m almost a year into using my homemade deodorant. I’ve found so far that one recipe lasts me about six months! That’s crazy! It’s so cheap and so much better for your body too. 
Also, just a side note, this deodorant has been fun to talk to with a few people, there are some who believe they would stink too bad to attempt this recipe, and let me tell you, I was one of those people! I had used anti-perspirants for years and years and in hot days in the summer would often have to put it on twice. That being said, switching to a natural deodorant like mine will probably give you a transition period where you don’t smell that great, it’s just your body getting rid of all the nastiness anti-perspirant has been keeping in for all those years. It was about a week of transition for me and then afterwards I noticed I sweat a lot less and didn’t smell. There are still some hot days in summer where I’ll put it on twice but at least I know I’m not putting cancer-causing chemicals into my body any more!

tissues – I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m pretty sure there is a Kleenex Conspiracy going on, conspiracy aside we just got lazy and stopped buying tissues and have gotten used to using toilet paper instead. Or if you want to go old school you could always try bringing back the hankie. 🙂 (Or not.)

face wash – I recently got the Norwex body cloths, so all I need at night or in the morning to wash my face are one of their cloths and some water. I love that I don’t need to keep buying products, these cloths will last me forever.

hairspray – I just simply don’t use hairspray, it never seemed to work in my hair anyway, so why waste the money.

I might have missed a few things, but I think that’s the bulk of it.

A few things I’ve tried to stop buying and make instead that didn’t work for me include laundry detergent and shampoo.

A few things I want to stop buying and try making myself: toothpaste, toilet bowl cleaner (and really every chemical cleaner for greener living) . . . and I’m sure there’s more.

I’d love to hear from you, what do you not buy?
(And do you do without or do you make your own?)

P.S. Check out more of my posts about living with less, like less possessions and less spending.

8 Comments

  • Sarah

    I think I must have used your deodorant recipe when you first posted it, because I am just coming up on a year of using homemade-only as well. And I have to agree, I think it is so much better. There have been a few times when for whatever reason I grabbed my husband’s commercial deodorant and used it instead, and those days I STINK!

    Also, about the napkins…I never buy napkins, just because I don’t really have a need for them, but I do have to keep a stash in my house for when people come over for dinner! I was so embarrassed when I went to set the table for guests and had to put folded paper towels down for them, but I guess I’m just not a messy eater??

    • Chantel

      Ha, yeah, I have totally done folded paper towel before . . . maybe I should invest in a few cloth napkins.

      Also, that’s so interesting about stinking when you use the commercial deodorant now!

  • Shawna

    Oh, yes, the napkins. We bought some cloth napkins and feel so refined and elegant using those instead. Haha. I just throw them in the wash with the towels and they are good to go for our next meal. We also stopped buying paper towels and use rags instead.
    I also stopped buying facial cleanser (so expensive!) and have been using bar castille soap on my face. I also ditched facial moisturizer and lotion and use coconut oil.
    My next goal is to start making our own hand soap and also making granola so we can stop buying boxed cereal. 🙂

    • Chantel

      Where did you buy cloth napkins from?? I have thought about buying some so many times but I’m always worried they are going to be instantly stained and very expensive.
      And you should totally send me your granola recipe, I’m always looking for a good one. 🙂

  • Rachel G

    My family never used napkins growing up so we never started buying them as adults, either. I guess we just eat neatly enough? haha! And when we first got married, Angel said something like, “You know…Mexicans don’t use taco seasoning to make tacos.” and something clicked and I’ve never used a spice mix since, I just add spices as I go. Convenience foods are pricy in this part of the world so most of our food is made fresh and from scratch and while sometimes it does feel like a lot of work–I really prefer this way of eating! But I don’t think I’ll ever go the homemade tortillas route–that’s too time-consuming for me at the rate we eat them.

    • Chantel

      We don’t eat much for convenience foods any more either, I guess I have Jared’s celiac disease to thank (?) for that. We make a lot of food from scratch and are definitely a lot healthier because of it. Also, now I’m craving tacos. 🙂

  • Robyn B

    we use the norwex window cloth too and LOVE it!!! thanks for the recipes for the granola bars & yogurt – we love those but would definitely love to make our own and save some money!! 🙂 this is a great list & a cool idea for a post – so informative. thanks!!

  • Sarah Jenik

    I too sometimes feel like Alex and I are so busy and I’m so overwhelmed at getting used to this whole marriage thing that we could be eating/living simpler and healthier. It made me feel better to read your list and realize that I don’t buy a lot of this stuff already and it was great to get other ideas. I loved the cloth napkin idea and want to start implementing it right away! I too want to try homemade toothpaste especially since I have read that it is better for your teeth than the storebought stuff… I just haven’t found time to do it yet! What was your experience with homemade laundry detergent? That is one I’ve also wanted to do but haven’t found the chance to do it either.