Eco-friendly guide: 7 harmful products I stopped buying

Becoming a minimalist – or at least, a more conscious consumer – is almost an immediate consequence of an eco-friendly lifestyle. When we care more about what we buy, we start wondering if we actually need it.

Once I started my journey of waste reduction, I naturally stopped using a bunch of products. In the hope of inspiring you to do the same, I leave you a list of 7 products I don’t use anymore.

list of products NOT to buy

1. Paper napkins

Setting the table for lunch or dinner always meant putting a paper napkin next to the plate. It was something normal that I had been doing all my life. But when I became more environmentally conscious, I challenged that. Why do I need to produce this piece of waste every time I have a meal? With that said, I switched to cloth napkins. You just pop them in the washing machine with your normal load when they are dirty and they are good to go.

Pro-tip: choose a pattern or color in which stains aren’t so obvious. Some sauces are tricky to get clean!

2. Teabags

I rarely drink coffee (outrageous, I know) because I am more of a tea person. Every morning I like to prepare black or green tea to have with my toasted bread. Doing this every single day (sometimes more than once), translated into a lot of waste in the form of teabags. This switch was easy. I bought a tea steeper and loose-leaf tea and made that my new routine.

Pro-tip: extra points if you buy your tea in a local bulk shop, avoiding all unnecessary packaging!

3. Makeup Wipes

Although I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, I still enjoy putting some on when I feel like it. Since I cherish healthy skin, I always bought either makeup remover wipes or disposable cotton pads and liquid makeup remover. After finding out about reusable makeup remover pads [insert link], I never bought disposable wipes again. I also gave up on traditional liquid makeup remover, and now use a facial oil or a solid remover.

4. Water

I still drink water, you can relax. I am privileged enough to live in a place that provides clean (and actually tasty) tap water. I am aware that this is not the case for everyone, but if it is, it’s time to stop buying plastic water bottles. This is some of the most unnecessary waste I see. You just need to get a good reusable bottle and take it everywhere with you.

Pro-tip: put some effort into researching reusable bottles. It’s an investment that should stay with you for many years (otherwise it’s not so sustainable after all). Check the weight, materials, and reviews on different brands, and choose whatever is the best match for you.

5. Packed fruits/veggies

Buying produce is, without a doubt, one of my favourite activities. Being able to look at the fruits and veggies, all those amazing colours is just mesmerizing. But they often come wrapped in a bunch of unnecessary packaging. Lately, if the product is not available in bulk, I simply don’t buy it and look elsewhere. This is also a way we can show supermarkets that we are not interested in packaged products! Just take a reusable bag to the store and put your product inside.

Pro-tip: extra points if you buy locally and in season, from smaller producers!

6. Magazines

When I was younger I used to buy a lot of magazines. I went through all the phases: children’s magazines, teenage tips, more technical ones, and even some tabloids (not proud of it). But now, whenever I pass a newsstand, I just remember: I can certainly find that online.

7. Anything I don’t actually need

This is a tough one, and not entirely true. I am far from zero waste and aware that I still buy a lot of things I don’t need. But this is a process, and the most important thing is to become better every day. My best tip, and what I try to do when I am facing a decisive moment, is to ask myself the following questions:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Do I already have something that fits a similar purpose?
  • Can I borrow it or buy it second hand?
  • Will I still need it a month from now?
  • Can I sell/donate it when I don’t need it anymore? Or dispose of it in a sustainable manner?

Next time you need to buy something, don’t be impulsive. We don’t have to stop consuming completely and never buy something again. But we do need to be conscious of our choices, and that’s something that gets easier over time.

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