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Have you ever looked at your shopping list and thought “why am I buying the same stuff every week?” Each time we shop, we buy items that we think we need.
1. Bin liners
This is the most recent item to be removed from our shopping list. The day I realised I was buying these bags just to throw them away was the day I vowed to stop buying them. And we did.
Now we just throw our rubbish straight into the bin. At first, I thought this was going to be hideously messy and be a pain to clean up. Then I thought about it and discovered that it is not as bad as I thought.
Firstly we hardly throw anything away anyway. We recycle or reuse. Food waste goes or goes on the vegetable patch. And secondly what does get thrown away is fairly clean.
It’s the plastic seals from the mayonnaise jar or the lids from yoghurt pots. Anything that is a bit dirty I just give it a quick rinse first.
Plus it’s not as though I love my bin so much that I don’t want it to get dirty and therefore need a bin liner to protect it. If it gets dirty I spray it with a bit of anti-bac and then squirt it with the hose. Easy peasy!
2. Laundry detergent
OK, this one I still do buy but I don’t buy anywhere near as much as you probably do. We traded laundry detergent for an Ecoegg a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back.
With an Ecoegg you just chuck it in with your dirty clothes and it cleans them just like your powder, tablet, liquid or gel would. But the best thing is they last ages!!
I’ve replaced the inside bits of my Ecoegg once, maybe twice in the 2-3 years that I’ve had it. And during that time my clothes have come out clean every time.
Ecoegg comes with the added bonus of being great for sensitive skin so I love using it for my kids’ clothes. It is also fragrance-free, so clean things just smell clean and not like anything else. AND it doesn’t dump a load of toxic chemicals into the environment. Love it!
3. Fresh herbs
I started a herb garden two or three summers ago and I adore it! Not only was a great introduction to growing your own food and a great project for my daughter, but I am saving so much money.
I sourced my herbs from various places. A few I grew from seeds in cut down milk bottles on my windowsill. Some were cuttings from a friend. And one or two I bought as established plants. All in all, it was fairly inexpensive to set up with just the cost of soil and a few pots on top.
We now have a great selection of herbs at our disposal. I love sending my daughter out into the garden to collect fresh thyme for dinner or to get a sprig of mint for my tea.
Plus when the colder months set in, I take a load of cuttings and dry them out indoors to use throughout winter. It really is quite a lovely way to save money.
4. Aluminium foil
You just don’t need it! Honestly, think hard about when you use it, and then try to think of a way to not use it. For nearly every situation I could come up with a better solution.
I’ve not bought foil in a long time and I cannot say that I miss it. Yeah, you might have to be a bit creative at the start but once you’ve figured it out you find it is easy to give up.
5. Shampoo and conditioner
I’ve mentioned this before here. But I don’t buy shampoo or conditioner. At least not the normal versions that come in bottles from the supermarket. I instead buy shampoo bars. These last for ages and make your hair feel great.
I paid £6 including delivery for my last shampoo bar. I fully expect that to last me 6 months and that is with washing my hair every other day. The great thing about shampoo bars is that they are zero waste. No plastic bottle. And they don’t contain anything nasty that coats your hair in plastic or whatever. They just let your lovely hair do its thing.
For conditioner, I just use a little apple cider vinegar mixed with water. It detangles and makes hair so shiny. Until you try it you probably won’t believe me but it is just as good as “normal” conditioner.
6. Some cosmetics and toiletries
Yeah, I don’t really do make-up or fancy moisturisers or toners. They scare me really. I worry about what is in them and whether I want that stuff all over my face, plus I mostly just don’t have a clue what to do with half of it.
This said there are increasingly some great products available that are great for your skin and don’t contain all the horrible stuff that I try to avoid, but they are also expensive. I don’t like spending money. But you knew that already.
There are so many tutorials out there for making your own cosmetics from very few ingredients. I personally am happy to go without most of the time. I’ve got a charcoal eyeliner, some natural eye shadow and lippy that I can whip out for a special occasion. The rest of the time I just use coconut oil. And I get that as cheap as I can too.
7. Baby products
I’ve mentioned before that we use cloth nappies so I won’t go on about those again. But I want to mention here that I don’t buy anything from the “baby” section when I do my grocery shopping. Literally nothing. To me, it’s all unnecessary. (You might be interested in: Must Have Parenting Hacks to Save Money)
We don’t buy nappies. Or wipes. We make all our own food so we don’t need purees or special baby crisps and crackers. I breastfeed so we don’t need formula. We don’t use shampoos, soaps or creams on our kids. They get water and the odd bit of coconut oil (again) for most things.
When I walk around a supermarket, which is rare, I actually feel quite proud that there is a whole aisle that I don’t need to go down.
I turn it into a game now. I try to find more aisles in the supermarket that I don’t need to go down by making switches in my home. It is amazing what you can eliminate.
8. Food bags
Again, I don’t really understand these. They’re a bit like bin bags. They serve a purpose for such a short period of time then they get thrown away. It doesn’t make sense to me. Plus I can buy reusable food bags in so many pretty patterns, so why wouldn’t I?
This one is like foil. It won’t take you long to come up with ways to replace all the things that you use food bags for.
Storing food can be switched into reusable bags and boxes. Putting your lunch in them? You can use a lunch box again. What else could you possibly use them for? If you think you have a use for them that you absolutely cannot live without, let me know. I’d really enjoy convincing you otherwise.
9. Kitchen roll
Yeah, we don’t have kitchen roll. I don’t miss it either. Visitors that come to my house seem to miss it more than me. They will look around my kitchen and go “where’s your kitchen roll?” I actually think it is quite funny now.
We stopped using kitchen roll when we decided that it could be replaced by a cloth and a towel. Both of these things we can wash and reuse. A cloth wipe can be used to clean anything. And a towel will absorb any spills.
I’ve seen a few people say “what about things that you don’t want to use a reusable wipe for?” Well if it really is something so disgusting that I don’t want to put it in my washing machine, then I have old scraps of fabric that I save from really worn-out clothes and bedding. I can use those and then throw away. You don’t need kitchen roll.
What unnecessary purchases are you making?
If you eliminated all these items from your weekly/monthly shop, how much would you save? Then work that out over the year? Then the next ten years? At what point would you consider it a worthwhile saving?
For me, it’s easy. These items are bad for my budget, bad for the environment and some of them are bad for our health. Therefore it is easy to let them go.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.