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Two sidenotes before we begin:
One: This post is going to sound like it was sponsored by Norwex, it’s not. I just seriously love their stuff. I’ve actually thought about selling their products because I’m constantly raving about them but for right now I’ll just continue sounding like a spokesperson for the company.
Two: I wrote a post with this title two years ago but a number of things have changed so instead of just updating the old post I decided to write a completely new one.
Over the last five years or so I’ve really been making an effort to live a life of less, I don’t think I initially thought of the environmental benefits but they really go hand in hand.
This is a list of things I no longer buy, some we simply do without and others I’ve bought items that will last longer and be more environmentally friendly in their place instead.
As like most of life, this is a work in progress. Ultimately I’d like to be a good steward of what God has given us, I’d like to buy less so we can bless others, have less so we can spend more time together as a family (instead of always cleaning up our clutter) and I’d like to choose experiences over stuff.
If you have other items that aren’t on this list that you don’t buy I’d love to hear about it!
Things I No Longer Buy
Resulting in Cheaper, Greener Living
KITCHEN & FOOD
napkins – I grew up using napkins at every meal, I’ll just admit this right off the bat: I’m a klutz and a messy eater. I’m not like my husband where I can just bypass the need for something to wipe my hands and/or face with each meal so the kids and I use baby wash cloths instead. We got a couple of packages and they’ve lasted us for years and are still going strong. We have some plain white ones and some patterned, I’d suggest going for the patterned ones to help cover up future stains. Eventually I’d like to have some nice, fancier, patterned cloth napkins but I have not found a good enough price on them to justify the cost. (If you know of a place though, let me know!)
plastic sandwich bags – we have reusable containers instead of sandwich bags. My favorites are actually a set of four EasyLunchboxes that we bought years ago. I find them great for packing snacks or a lunch when we are on the go, the dividers are great and it makes it so much easier than passing three different containers to each kid. We do still buy plastic freezer bags and use them for a few things, but I like to be
thrifty a bit more environmentally friendly and wash them and reuse them a few times.
disposable straws – I really prefer reusable plastic straws, they are usually bigger than the disposable and make drinking smoothies a lot easier. They aren’t super fun to clean but I rinse them as soon as I can and use a metal skewer to get all the way in there.
microwave popcorn – I used to have a bit of a microwave popcorn addiction but one year I asked for a microwave popcorn bowl for Christmas and it’s all I’ve used since! Admittedly, I use it nearly every day, popcorn is my favorite snack. Plus, popping my own popcorn and then adding my oil afterwards (I use sunflower oil) makes it so much healthier than that chemically stuff they put in microwave popcorn bags.
taco seasoning – I make my own (and control the amount of salt in it). Here’s my recipe.
granola bars – We’ve been making our own using this recipe for years already, it’s great for Jared cause he can make them with his gluten-free oats and not worry about getting sick (cause gluten free granola bars are pretty hard to find).
hot chocolate – I’ve got a delicious hot cocoa recipe that I found online once upon a time when I fell in love with Starbucks’ hot chocolate but couldn’t afford to buy one very often. Now that I am dairy free I’ve been able to continue making it with dairy free milk (yay!). If anyone is interested I can share the recipe in the future.
pasta sauce & pizza sauce – I’ve been tweaking recipes for both pasta sauce and pizza sauce in the last couple of years. I haven’t had to buy pizza sauce for nearly two years and in the fall I finally nailed down a delicious (and spicy) pasta sauce recipe. I don’t like to make everything from scratch but it is nice to be able to control the ingredients in some things, plus, when your brown-ish thumb seems to be able to grow tomatoes that thrive you take advantage of that!
plastic grocery bags – if at all possible I try to avoid using/accepting plastic grocery bags. My purse is big enough to throw small purchases into and I usually try to have a foldable, cloth grocery bag in my purse for times when I need it. Some how we still do collect a few plastic grocery bags though and I use those for garbage bags so at least we are not just throwing them away.
window cleaner – I skip buying window cleaner all together and just use my Norwex window cloth instead. It only uses water and takes all the streaks out, easy peasy. I love using them on my bathroom mirror.
all purpose cleaner – I just use a mixture of water and vinegar and sometimes I throw in a couple of drops of essential oils. On my counters I use my Norwex enviro cloth, I love that I only need to add water and everything sticks to them so they clean so well.
swiffer pads – We had a Swiffer when we were first married, I like the idea so much better than a mop but buying the Swiffer pads all the time (and the cleaner) was annoying and costly (not to mention the awful chemicals that are in the cleaner and have been proven to kill animals that have licked the floor afterwards). So, the Swiffer was out and in came the Norwex mop. The Norwex mop has two pads – one for sweeping (dry pad) and one for mopping (wet pad), they can both just be thrown into the washing machine when they are dirty and then reused again!
dryer sheets – I’ve been using wool dryer balls for a few years now. I like that they don’t have a bunch of harmful chemicals or weird ingredients like dryer sheets (I’ve heard dryer sheets are just perfumed animal fat, not sure if that’s true but whatever is in there can’t be anything very natural, that’s for sure!), plus I can add a couple of drops of my favorite essential oils on the dryer balls for a bit of a scent (my personal favorite for this is this citrusy oil). Dryer balls definitely don’t get as much static out as dryer sheets but it seems like a small price to pay. In the summer I like to hang my clothes up but that just doesn’t happen in the winter (they would just become ice blocks outside).
fabric softner – I just don’t buy or use it, easy enough.
eyeglass cleaner – Norwex to the rescue once again, I use their optic scarf, you usually don’t need any kind of liquid, just use the dry scarf. When Ephraim’s glasses get really nasty (as a three year old boys glasses are prone to do) I just run the glasses under water and then use the optic scarf. I carry this in my purse so I always have it on the go, I even have some friends that are constantly asking to borrow it.
tub scrub – cleaning bathrooms are my least favorite thing to clean and I generally leave my tubs for longer than I should. But I recently got the Norwex bathroom scrub mitt and cleaning paste and it has changed my cleaning! They work so well at getting hard water build up and any grime off. I now do a quick rub down with the bathroom scrub mitt after I am done showering to keep up with it and it has made cleaning the tub so much easier.
BATHROOM & BEAUTY
face wash – I use the Norwex body cloth on my face every day. All you do is add a little water to the cloth and wash with that, no soap needed. I actually use it in the shower too, it works great as an exfoliator, which actually brings me to my next item . . .
shaving cream – in my previous post under this title I was using oil (either coconut or almond, depending what I had on hand at the moment) to replace shaving cream but I recently discovered this amazing trick, which actual was the inspiration behind this whole post. Are you ready for this? . . . If you use the Norwex body cloth as an exfoliator in the shower you can shave your legs with no shaving cream or shaving cream replacement needed. Seriously. I know it sounds crazy but it so works! My skin is fairly sensitive and I definitely would be coming away with razor burn if I normally didn’t use anything for shaving cream but for whatever reason this totally works. The cloths aren’t that expensive and I get embarrassingly giddy when I think about all the money (not to mention the environment) I’ll save on shaving cream (or oil) for years to come. If you learn one trick from this post, let this be it, go buy some body cloths for yourself!
conditioner – I have been using my vinegar conditioner for three years now and still love it!
deodorant – shortly after starting my vinegar conditioner I started making my own deodorant. One batch lasts me about six months and I love knowing there are no cancer causing chemicals in there!
dry shampoo – I made this dry shampoo three years ago and am still using the same batch, if that doesn’t convince you I don’t know what will.
tissues – we don’t buy Kleenex. It started out of laziness and it has continued out of laziness. Ha, we just toilet paper, it does the job for a fraction of the price.
face cream – I made my own whipped face cream a year or two ago and am still using the same batch. I really love knowing all the ingredients and went into it and the fact there are no added chemicals.
hairspray – I just don’t use hairspray.
movies – we don’t buy movies, for the most part we borrow them from the library (either the physical copy or through their online app).
books – okay, books are possibly my biggest temptation. I can’t say I don’t buy books at all but 99% of the time the books I buy have been second hand. Though I am slowly getting away from this too, the library has almost every book I want to read either the physical book or the electronic book. If I can’t find a copy from the library or if a book is by an author that I really want to support I generally buy the Kindle version these days, which helps me cut back on physical clutter.
I may have missed a few things, I am sure there are things we are simply doing without that I’ve forgotten about!
There are a few more things I’d like to find good alternatives for, I’d like to try a DIY toothpaste, probably a basic coconut oil and baking soda one but I just bought a new tube so I need to finish that first. I would also love to find a good alternative to paper towel. We don’t use a whole lot of paper towel, using cloth towels and rags for most things but there are a few foods that we like to be able to put on paper towel to de-grease and I just don’t see rags working so well.
If you have some items not on this list that you do without leave a comment and let me know!