Minimalism is a journey.
You don’t get up one day and make a list of things to stop buying just like that.
It is a journey that you undertake in which you slowly realize what you really need in life and what you don’t.
Therefore, this list cannot be comprehensive and can change from one person to the other.
We do not need to look at other minimalists to decide what to stop buying either. It’s on us to decide what is important for us in life.
But still, this list can help you to re-analyze your priorities and take inspiration from other people’s journeys. Just don’t feel forced or guilty to stop buying what other people do.
So, let’s see what all items that I did stop buying or want to stop buying as a minimalist.
The one thing I cannot imagine living without is books. So there is no way I am going to stop buying books until I die.
But as my collection started growing, I realized how books can create clutter. I gave away many books that I was sure I will not read again. But I still have a considerable number of books that I want to keep.
I made the switch to reading ebooks so as to save space (and money!). Kindle versions of books cost less money than a paperback. Getting a Kindle e-reader is one of the best investments I made in my life as a voracious reader.
It can store thousands of ebooks. And you don’t have to worry about physical space to store all these books.
Alternatively, you can also borrow books from the library and save more money and space.
You don’t have to stop buying seasonal decorations altogether as they bring about the vibes and joy of each holiday and help you to feel festive.
People love spending money during the holidays and with each purchase that seemed irresistible, you gain more clutter at home.
To declutter the seasonal decorations, gather everything together, and go through each item. Discard duplicate items and keep only what you need.
And when you purchase new items, buy good quality ones that will last for years. You can thus stop buying new items every year.
3. cable tv
Do we really need a cable subscription when we have online streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and tons of options to watch live sports matches?
It’s hard to stop buying jewelry when you see the next beautiful accessory when window-shopping. Almost every time, buying jewelry or other such accessories can be impulsive.
Suddenly what we have looks boring and we want the dopamine-rush of getting something new.
These days I like to invest in quality items, whatever it is so that I can stop buying more than what I need and also because quality items last longer.
Clothes can easily create clutter. And hoarding clothes is also bad for the environment.
The increasing amount of landfills and the carbon emission caused by increased consumerism are putting our own future in danger.
The following statistics, published by the UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, give us an idea:
- Every year the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water — enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.
- The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 % by 2030.
Don’t you think these numbers give us enough reasons to stop hoarding on more clothes?
Outfit repeating should be normalized and something that is not to be ashamed of.
6. CHEMICAL-LADEN COSMETICS
I stopped using chemical-laden cosmetics a long time ago and my skin has never been happier. And my wallet too.
I opt for handmade natural products that may feel like they are expensive. But when it comes to natural products, you only need to use a little each time. Hence they last a long time. So I save more money in the long run.
And also, instead of buying many products and buying whatever seems good for my skin, I stick to a few basic products.
7. Plates and dishes
I tend to see more dinner sets and plates and dishes needed in most of the households. Many of them are kept unused for “future” or “in case guests come over”.
If we can reduce the number of extra sets we buy we can save a lot of space and money.
I would prefer to stick to having two sets at any time. One for regular use and the other for when more people come over.
8. SINGLE-PURPOSE APPLIANCES
I feel that single-purpose appliances are purchased on impulse. The problem with single-purpose appliances is that, well – it only has a single purpose.
Single-purpose appliances like coffee makers, juicers, ice-cream makers, etc.
A better option is to do your research and invest in multi-purpose appliances. It will reduce the clutter in your home considerably.
9. Single-purpose cleaners
I stopped investing in chemical cleaners when I learned that our simple vinegar and baking soda can do most of the cleaning around the home.
But if you want to invest in a cleaner, better it is a multipurpose cleaner so that you need less space to store them and more bang for your bucks.
To keep my life minimalist, another thing I stopped buying is magazines. I love reading magazines, but they add to the clutter quickly. There are online subscriptions available for magazines today which you can read using an app on your phone.
11. Latest gadgets
The need to upgrade your phone as soon as a new phone hits the market comes from the need to look better in front of others.
For many, it is part of boosting their self-esteem and improving social status (for some reason, Apple iPhones are linked to ‘looking cool” or higher social status).
As long as the old phone is functional and working fine, I would continue using it. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against buying iPhones. They are one of the best smartphones in my opinion. I own one too. But if it comes from the need to look good in front of others, it means you may be trying to fill a void there.
The same can be said about the Apple watch, cordless earphones, and other smart devices that make you smarter.
We are already living with a lot of radiation and I don’t want to add to that. My life has been perfectly fine without all these extra gadgets and I choose to live intentionally moving forward too.
Anyone else guilty of buying planners and not filling it every day? Do you beat yourself up for leaving blank spaces in your planner?
I love having planners and there are online options available too, but I am always a paper-pen person.
But I hate having empty planners piling up. So I made the switch to bullet journals and now I can write in it whenever I want without worrying about leaving empty pages.
Keeping a bullet journal instead of the traditional pages is also the cheaper option as you only need a simple notebook to do all the planning.
I like to keep my collection simple. Therefore, I make sure I have only 2-3 pairs of shoes(or sandals) for different occasions at a time.
14. Gifts and greeting cards
Another thing to stop buying as a minimalist is gifts and greeting cards. I am not against giving gifts. But from what I have seen, the gifts my kids receive are often forgotten after 2-3 days and cause clutter.
For this reason, I have become intentional about gifts. In my opinion, gifts are better when it’s an experience rather than an object. But if it’s a very useful one, that’s fine.
And instead of sending greeting cards, I prefer to call people in person and wish them. For me, it’s been a much better way to reduce paper waste.
15. Items on sale
When your favorite brands announce a sale, does your brain try hard to find whether you need something new?
And do you even try to convince yourself that you need that winter coat because it’s so much cheaper now even though you have pretty winter coats stashed in your closet?
When you buy items on sale, you are in fact not saving money, but spending money that was safely there in your bank account that you could have used for something else.
16. Bags and purses
I don’t believe in having a collection. I use only one purse at a time and 2 handbags. I use them as long as they don’t get worn out and buy new only every 2-3 years.
I only use a minimal amount of makeup and have only 1 or 2 lipsticks at a time. If I buy more they never get used till it gets over, and I have to throw them out when they expire. So, I try to reduce wastage by not buying more than two at a time.
It’s easy to have a leakage of money through subscriptions you never really use.
You might be procrastinating thinking you will get to them someday or you may have the fear of missing out on useful things.
Carefully evaluate if you are using your subscriptions fully and if not, cancel them in one sitting. I promise it will be worth the effort.
This one is hard for me. I love pretty notebooks and I can never have enough of them.
However, I have made a decision to stop buying more notebooks unless I finish the ones I have now. Tough decision!
20. SINGLE-USE Plastic water bottle / bottled water
There is a growing awareness about the effect of plastic pollution on the environment and brands and governments all over the world seem to be making small changes based on that.
But as individuals, we all can do our part by not buying single-use plastic bottles and use reusable ones.
I also stopped buying single-use bottled water as they create more plastic waste. I carry a water bottle on every trip and carry a small water bottle in my handbag while going out for errands.
I stopped using mouthwash after learning about the chemicals used in it. Now I rely on oil pulling which is a much effective and natural way of cleaning your mouth without any side effects.
22. products containing Artificial fragrance
Once, I had a bad reaction to a new deodorant brand I tried and that prompted me to look for alternatives.
That’s how I landed among a whole new world of organic, handmade, and cruelty-free products.
Through my research, I found out about how “fragrance” added in these products affects the health of not only our skin but that of the whole body as well.
The side effects of using fragrance are that it can irritate skin, have toxic hormonal effects, and may even cause cancer.
Fragrance has bad effects on the environment as well.
A study shows that using scented products (which include items such as perfumes, hair sprays, air fresheners, and paints) emit the same amount of chemical vapors as petroleum emissions from cars.
Luckily there are so many alternatives available today or if you are DIYer you can practically learn to make any skincare product or air fresheners from scratch.
The truth is, fragrance in itself is not essential in these products, but they are used to lure people as a marketing strategy. Everyone is attracted to the good smell.
Though natural smells may not be as appealing as artificial ones, they are much better for your skin and the environment in the long run.
23. plastic grocery bags
The same goes for grocery bags. Instead of buying plastic bags every time, I use a cloth bag in my handbag so that I can reduce plastic waste.
24. Plastic utensils
Though plastic lasts longer than other materials, it adds to the ever-growing plastic pollution. Instead of plastic, I love to stick to steel or glass containers for storage.
25. Online food delivery
Though I haven’t fully stopped the online food ordering services and I don’t plan to as well (since they are very useful in times of need), I recently realized how the instant availability of food, whenever I want, leads to consuming junk food more often than I used to.
The expenses can add up considerably over time too. So I have set some rules for myself on how often I can order food online.
I also try to store healthy snacks and fruits in my pantry so that I can overcome the temptation to order a sugary drink whenever I feel like it.
26. Fabric softener and dryer sheets
I used to love fabric softeners for the wrinkle-free effect and the fragrance they provide.
But when I learned about the side effects of any product containing fragrance, I did my research and found out about the harmful effects of chemicals and preservatives used in them for our bodies.
The beauty of leading a minimalist life is that we tend to look a closer look at all the products we use and evaluate what they do for us.
And it also helps us to learn about the cheaper and greener alternatives.
If you love using fabric softeners but want to stop using the commercial version, the classic old white vinegar is there for your rescue.
Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser and be ready to receive fresh, clean-smelling clothes.
And no, your clothes won’t smell as the smell will completely dissipate after washing.
27. All-purpose cleaners
Now that we are talking about vinegar, I should mention the versatility of vinegar. Vinegar can be used to clean almost anything so it qualifies as a good all-purpose cleaner.
It is a good substitute for all the chemical-laden cleaners. It is good for your home, health, and environment.
If you don’t like unscented products, you can add fragrance to your homemade cleaner using essential oils. You can find tons of recipes available online.
28. Makeup remover
Makeup remover is just an extra expense. You can make your own natural make-up cleanser that is not harmful to your skin.
A simple organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed coconut oil can be used as an effective makeup remover.
29. Single-purpose skin products
The cosmetics industry produces tons of beauty products every year that also produce a lot of waste that comes from packaging.
The reliance on single-use beauty products is bad not only for our environment but for our wallets too.
For example, instead of single-use face masks, I opt for handmade organic facemasks made by companies that use eco-friendly packages.
A single jar lasts longer and so I save money in the long term.
If you do a little research, you can find alternatives to most of the skin products out there – either DIY or eco-friendly brands.
30. Paper towel
Paper towels are single-use products that are widely used everywhere. Even though they have less carbon footprint, their production can considerably hurt the environment.
Not only the production cost, but the paper waste caused by the overuse of paper towels is also alarming.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper and cardboard waste—of which paper towels are a contributing factor—make up the largest percentage of waste materials in the U.S.
Even though the use of paper towels may not be always completely avoided, there are many alternatives to paper towels too.
31. Office supplies
As with any other item, it’s best to buy office supplies I need in small quantity when I need them as most of the office supplies like rubber bands, paper clips, envelopes, boxes of pencils, etc. were kept unused for a long time.
I find that I can reduce a lot of clutter and save space if I buy only what I need.
32. Sugary drinks
Most of the cold drinks like shakes, coffee, smoothies, etc can be made at home at the fraction of a price if you have the ingredients at home. The price can add up over time, so it’s best to store the ingredients at home for the next time your sugar craving strikes.
33. Cooking spray
Cooking spray is another extra expense you could avoid by using butter or oil.
34. Baby gear
When it comes to baby gear, I have purchased only a stroller for my elder daughter which my younger one also used. I don’t believe in buying tons of baby gear items.
Not only do kids outgrow them fast, but also they need space to be stored. When it comes to baby gear and kids’ clothing, I am a big follower of used things. And keeping only a few pairs of clothes at a time, as they outgrow clothes fast.
35. Kids’ toys
What I have learned from buying kids’ toys is that they are not gonna play with a single toy for long. At least my kids get fed up with the same toy after a few weeks or months.
Instead of toys, I try to engage them in creative pursuits (like drawing, crafts, etc) and outdoor sports. Kids’ imagination can be amazing as I see them creating toys out of cardboard and make up games on the spot with any random thing they come across.
I am open to buying board games, puzzles, card games, etc as they are good time-killers and help to engage their brain.
But the toys that flash lights and play annoying music or even doll sets are a no-no for our home now.
Here is an interesting article on 14 alternatives that will boost kids’ creativity.
36. Land phone
We all have at least one smartphone per adult at home, and they do the job perfectly. So landline bill is another expense you can avoid as a minimalist.
37. Packaged instant food
Anything that you can make instantly like noodles, soup, etc. It’s tempting to buy them when you see them on the grocery aisles, but they are bad for your health, and it’s always better to make them from scratch.
38. Insect killers
Another thing that is bad for your health is insect-killing sprays. You can easily make cost-effective DIY insect killers at home.
39. Beauty treatments
I don’t visit beauty parlors other than for haircuts. I do my own hair spa, hair removal, mani-pedi, etc.
I used to do waxing but since when I switched to using an epilator, I cannot tell you how much money I saved from not doing it. The following is the epilator I use. I have been using it for four years now, and I totally recommend it.
And if you have the right products at home, you can do your own beauty treatments too.
And another benefit of it is that you can choose what products to use and decide what goes into your skin.
40. Feminine hygiene products
I use a menstrual cup and use cotton napkins when necessary along with it (cotton napkins are friendlier with your skin). It has considerably reduced the money I spend on sanitary napkins every month as a menstrual cup can be used for at least 5-10 years.
I’m happy I made the switch to a menstrual cup as it is better for my health and the amount of waste I create is also reduced.
If you are not using a menstrual cup yet, I highly recommend it. There are also other products available like reusable napkins.
41. AIR FRESHENERS/SCENTED CANDLES
Again, those chemical-laden air fresheners are out of my life and I replaced them with natural, beeswax candles scented with essential oils.
42. HAIR PRODUCTS
I use a simple Ayurvedic shampoo and a DIY hair spa to clean and nourish my hair. My hair is usually soft and shiny after shampooing. So I stopped buying a conditioner.
And also, I don’t use a hair curler or straightener. Just love to take care of my hair as it is.
43. EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
I have a history of buying exercise equipment and leaving them in a corner, allowing them to gather dust. So now I stick to having only a yoga mat and a set of dumbbells. I exercise mostly from home and make use of the exercise videos without any type of equipment.
I find that those are enough for me to keep myself active. And not buying the equipment I won’t really use help me to stick to the minimalist life I want to have.
I find that those are enough for me to keep myself active. And not buying the equipment I won’t really use help me to stick to the minimalist life I want to have.
44. SUBSCRIPTION BOXES
I love the idea of subscription boxes. It’s like a gift you buy for yourself. You are excited to receive it every month.
I tried a subscription box service for my kids. Even though they enjoyed playing with the toys, it only lasted two-three days. And then we ended up with lots of cardboard toys they lost interest in. So no more subscription boxes!
45. PRECUT VEGGIES AND FRUITS
Some fruits and veggies lose their nutritional value the longer they are kept cut and exposed to air or water. Honestly, it’s not hard to do it on your own. And when you think about the extra waste caused by the packaging, it’s better not to buy.