My “Do Not Buy” List

An effective way I’ve found to curb shopping impulses is by creating a “Do Not Buy” list. This is a list of things that I’ve bought that have gone to waste or went unenjoyed for various reasons. Reminding myself of what these items are and, more importantly, why they didn’t work out (whether it be a certain type of clothing or food) keeps me from accumulating unwanted items. Truly the first step to reducing waste is by purchasing fewer items to begin with.

Food/Drink

Dark chocolate: I have a sweet tooth and as much as I try — I find dark chocolate far too bitter… these usually end up accumulating in the pantry until my husband eats them all.
Excessively flavored tea: I love tea but am mostly drawn to black, builder tea — the stronger, the better. I’ll occasionally do a light herbal blend or an Earl Grey. But outside of that, I don’t need to get too fancy with it.
Flavored balsamic vinaigrettes: While I love flavored balsamics, they usually come in a massive bottle that I struggle to use up.
Non vanilla-based ice cream: I’m a vanilla girl. Sure, I’ll get crazy flavors when out and about, but, at home, there’s no way I’ll finish a pint of something purely chocolate.
Most cookies: Give me all the cakes and pies — cookies I can pass on.

Personal Care

Hairspray: I’ve had the same bottle for years — I have incredibly thick, mostly hard to control hair. No amount of hairspray can change that.
Conditioner: For every conditioner bottle I use up, I’ve probably gone through 4-5 shampoo bars. I don’t use enough of it to justify the purchase. I think coconut oil pre-shampooing should be enough.
Nail polish: I love having my nails done. I suck at doing them myself. And, no matter how much I practice, it never looks as good as when I get it done at the salon. I’ll leave it to the professionals.

Clothing

Boat neck shirts: Doesn’t look good on me.
Empire waisted dresses: Doesn’t work on my petite frame.
Shirts/dresses with halter straps: Makes me self conscious about my shoulders.
Jeans without stretch: Not comfortable.
Trench coats: Looks cool. Completely impractical in the Texas weather.
Tight shorts: Too old to feel comfortable in these.
Fancy compression workout leggings: I love my Nike Leg-a-see Leggings and gravitate towards them. Everything else feels too tight.
Black loungewear: Three cream/golden dogs who love to shed. Don’t wear black in my home.
Expensive shoes: I have flat feet and do a number on my shoes — doesn’t matter how expensive they were. There are plenty of affordable options out there.
Non black/grey/nude undergarments: I see all these cute colors and prints but they just aren’t practical!
Dress socks: I work from home. I have no need for these… no matter how adorable they are.
Bracelets/watches: I hate anything on my wrist.

Home Items

Beachy or linen scented items: I prefer warmer, sweeter scents. I don’t like to feel like I’m inside a washing machine.
Blankets or pillows with poms on them: Three dogs and poms do not mix.
Non-cotton blankets: My cotton blankets have outlasted every other material and are so much more comfortable (and compostable!).
Pure white bedding: These end up looking grimey and yellow pretty quickly in our home. Only gray bedding moving forward.

What would be your “do not buy” list?

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Things To Do Instead of Online Shopping

Mindless online shopping can definitely be the enemy of anyone trying to live a more mindful, minimal lifestyle. It’s just SO EASY to purchase anything your heart desires. And let’s not even get into the dopamine surge that comes from shopping. I’ve definitely been guilty of this as well. I’ve found that the best way to curb this unnecessary spending is finding other things to do at home that doesn’t cost any money but leaves me feeling happy, fulfilled, or productive. Here are the 25 things I do instead of online shopping. What about you?

  1. Take a bath (and use up all my bath bombs!)
  2. Paint nails
  3. Do workouts or yoga found on YouTube
  4. Bake something with whatever is in the kitchen
  5. Prune, fertilize, de-weed garden beds
  6. Do a puzzle
  7. Read a book from the library
  8. Listen to a podcast
  9. Find old clothes to sell on Poshmark
  10. Learn how to make a new cocktail
  11. Practice new hairstyles using YouTube tutorials
  12. Surf Pinterest for life inspiration
  13. Do paint touch ups around the house
  14. Binge watch Korean dramas (I loved Descendents of the Sun!)
  15. Work on adult coloring books
  16. Vacuum up all the crumbs and dust in drawers
  17. Stretch!
  18. Send an email to a friend
  19. Look up events going on nearby (I use GuideLive here in Dallas)
  20. Change/wash bedsheets (because nothing beats clean sheets and I guarantee you aren’t washing them as often as you need to)
  21. Run around with the dogs or teach them a new trick
  22. Dance party
  23. Watch music videos
  24. Spend time deleting files/organizing computer (and minimizing digital life)
  25. Schedule necessary appointments
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The Joy of Using Things Up

In January 2018, I decided that I was going to go at least 3 months without buying any new clothes (the exceptions: underwear, shoes, leggings, and anything needed for bridesmaid duties). I ended up going until October and found it shockingly easy. I fell in love with thrifting, Poshmark, and shopping my own closet. This January, I decided to re-start my “no new clothes” challenge. We’re in the middle of April and, so far, so good. The challenge got me thinking — what else could I stand to stop buying this year? Like clothes, other personal and household items can accumulate. Think… candles, skincare, makeup, even food items … generally smaller, consumable items that are OH SO EASY to impulse purchase (especially when traveling!).

Anyone else feel a sense of joy (or even accomplishment) when you get through an entire skincare product or hit pan in a makeup palette or burn through a candle in it’s entirety? I want to feel more of that. So here are some items I am adding to my “do not buy” list until there are no “backups” left.

  • Candles. Yeah, I’m one of those people. I make candles in old candle jars. I also buy candles because I’m a total sucker. I am given candles because everyone knows how much I love candles. A candle is lit daily so they do get used up… but, right now, I have an overwhelming amount to go through.
  • Bath Bombs. I was given a lot of bath bombs over Christmas which piled up on top of my impulse bath bomb purchases at Lush. I am making a habit of taking more baths and making sure to use a bath bomb each time.
  • Bar Soaps. I blame my husband. He’s a soap fiend. At Whole Foods? Buy soap. Traveling and see a small business owner selling soap? Buy it. Obviously, these get used up. But, right now, I have a small shoe box full of soap.
  • Body Moisturizers. Don’t know how this happened but between gifts and half empty lotion bottles — I probably have 2 years worth of the stuff.
  • Face Masks. Not the sheet ones but jars and tubes of them. They come as part of skincare kits, as gifts, etc. I also find that I take forever to get through them as I’m not super consistent about masking. Goal: Mask twice a week and get through all these jars! In the future, maybe DIY masks to save self from collecting (somewhat unused) masks.
  • Lipstick and lip balms. I have too many, plain and simple. I also have every color and forumation I could possibly need so I just need to stop picking these up.
  • OTC Medications. Somehow we end up with multiple bottles of Ibuprofen, allergy medications, and Pepto. Usually while traveling or out and about, someone ends up with a headache or sniffles and we end up buying meds that come home with us. Goal: Make sure to pack medications in travel bag to prevent purchases. Thoroughly check medicine cabinet before buying any medications.
  • Tea. Another impulse travel purchase. Wherever I am in the world, I end up buying local tea. Yeah, the loose leaf stuff is great and compostable but how much tea do I really need?! So. No more until I’m through the majority of my stash.

What items could you stand to stop buying for the next few months?

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The Single Use Kitchen Gadgets I Keep Around

I would consider myself a minimalist. I’m not extreme about it but I am pretty ruthless about what I keep in the house. But as a family that cooks a lot, the kitchen is where I break my rule on not having overly specialized/single purpose items. I relegate these little gadgets to one drawer (except for the two appliances listed). Your list might look very different than mine… but be very thoughtful about the kitchen gadgets you do keep. Don’t keep things that will only be used once a year or in a wishful/just in case scenario. Or items that you hate using because they are bulky/a pain to clean. To me, minimalism is not about having anything but about keeping the items that are used often and make life easier. Here are the items I personally keep around.

Photograph of cooking utensils.

Milk Frother: I seldom buy tea/hot chocolate/etc. from a coffee shop as I prefer to make them at home. It’s cheaper, produces less waste, and I can get exactly what I want. Wins all around. However, because I don’t use a fancy machine to make these things (just a kettle or on stovetop), my drinks lack the wonderful frothiness found at the coffee shop. This tiny, inexpensive milk frother does the job.

Citrus Squeezer: We are frequently in need of freshly squeezed lemon or lime, whether for a margarita, a cake, or in hot water when sick. Frankly, I just suck at squeezing lemons… barely getting any juice out of them and then resorting to using 2- 3 times the number that a recipe calls for. A citrus squeezer makes the job easier, faster, and less wasteful.

Apple Slicer: This is one of those items that you do not need to have if you don’t eat sliced apples FREQUENTLY. However, in our household, that is not the case. Our dogs eat apples, I eat apples, my husband eat apples. Always sliced. With peanut butter. This item is a time saver for us.

Dough/Bench Scraper: Some people consider the humble dough (or bench) scraper a single use item. I disagree. I use this to, yes, scrape dough but also to transfer veggies from a cutting board, clean flour/sugar off the counters while baking, and to cut/portion out pieces of dough.

Meat Thermometer: As someone who has gotten food poisoning from chicken, I can wholeheartedly say that it is an experience I have no desire to ever repeat. Hence. The meat thermometer. I also use this while baking cakes and frittatas.

Potato Masher: I like mashed potatoes. Both sweet and regular. I have yet to find a way to mash potatoes with forks (or another household item) that lead to a consistency I enjoy. Therefore, the potato masher stays.

Now for the appliances. I don’t think either of these are must haves (even for me). However, I enjoy them and they make life a bit easier. If I didn’t have the space for them, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them away. But, for now, they stay.

Bread Maker: I don’t think making your own bread is the only zero waste way to get bread. It’s actually less wasteful to get freshly baked bread from Whole Foods (or wherever) and stick it in your own bag straight from the bakery. Making bread at home means that I have to get flour, sugar, salt (all package free) and yeast (in a glass jar). However, the resulting bread is divine. Basically, I keep the bread maker because of the sheer joy of eating warm, freshly baked, low ingredient bread at home. I think that’s a pretty good reason to keep it around.

Rice Cooker: I’m Asian and I also enjoy cooking different Asian foods. And rice is a large component of many Asian cuisines. As an Asian, having a rice cooker is a part of life. I have never lived without one! Can I make rice on the stove top? Yeah. Do I want to? Nope. My compromise is that I have a much smaller rice cooker than the one I grew up with.

Pin this post image: the single use kitchen gadgets I still keep as a minimalist.
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Move 27 Items In Your Home

Have you heard of the Feng Shui idea that moving 27 items can change your life? I think “change your life” might be a bit of a stretch BUT moving 27 items can get you out of a rut, make you feel less stuck, and just allow for better energy in your home. Moving can entail both getting rid of things or shifting an item’s position in your home. This is something you should do at least seasonally. I find that it allows you to evaluate the items in your home consistently and ask yourself whether you still need it/love it/want it. And sometimes moving an item can make it feel “new” in a way. Here are the items I tend to move around the house on a seasonal basis (some of these (such as laundry) are done weekly).

  1. Candles: recycle or reuse empty glass jars; move candles to different spots on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
  2. Coffee table books: restack your books or trade out books from your bookshelf to coffee table.
  3. Cook books: donate the ones you no longer use; reorder the ones you keep.
  4. Throw blankets and pillows: shake them out; run them through the dryer; move them to the opposite end of the couch.
  5. Photographs/Artwork: switch out the prints in your frames; move a painting to a different room.
  6. Baskets: move your catch call or blanket basket from one corner of the room to another.
  7. Benches: swap the entryway bench with the one in front the bed.
  8. Small plants: reorder the plants/succulents in the patio and bathroom.
  9. Fruit bowl: move the bowl to a different part of the kitchen.
  10. Lamps: swap/move floor or desk lamps to a different spot that allows for light to hit in a new way.
  11. Toothbrush: ditch old toothbrushes or brush heads.
  12. Laundry: put up any clothes that are still sitting in the basket; do a load of laundry with whatever is sitting in the hampers.
  13. Seasonal bedding: swap out heavy blankets for lighter ones or vice-versa depending on the season.
  14. Old pens/writing utensils: send old writing utensils to Pen Guy Art.
  15. Bags of items to donate: take those bags of unused items that you’ve collected to the donation location of your choice.
  16. Electronics to recycle: take old batteries and electronics to local electronics recycling center.
  17. Trash cans: empty these out.
  18. Duplicate items: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  19. Single purpose items that are never used: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  20. Pet beds and toys: shake these out; give them a wipe; move them to a different spot on the floor.
  21. Small electronic device like an Apple TV: wipe these down; move over a few inches or to other side of the tv.
  22. Tsotchkes: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; move the rest to other spots in the house.
  23. Mugs: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; rotate the rest between mug holder and cabinet.
  24. Coats/outerwear: rotate order in coat closet.
  25. Canned food: take unopened cans to local food pantry.
  26. Snacks: take unopened snacks to local food pantry; compost stale or expired items.
  27. Vases: swap locations of vases in the house.
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