For me, becoming more and more eco conscious and friendly, and reducing my waste allowed me to also become much more of a minimalist. I like the minimalist approach because it shows you how a lot of the stuff we have/want, is very unnecessary and not useful and we clearly do not need a lot of it.
I love de-cluttering and that feeling of getting rid of (giving them to someone who would make use of it :p ) things that I am not using. I just hate it when I know I have something that is just sitting in a corner and not being used.
I also prefer to not have a lot of ‘stuff’, sure there will be things I want but I will think long and hard before buying them, to really be sure I will use them regularly.
One great aspect about all this, is that it teaches us about attachment. In life we are all attached to something, or a lot of material things. It is this attachment that binds us to those things and to this life and causes us a lot of grief when suddenly these things are taken away from us for whatever reason. By practicing a more minimalistic lifestyle, you will see this attachment slowly reduce and in turn you will not get so caught up with having this or that or being so attached to certain things. This really needs its own article though.
Anyway, below is a whole bunch of stuff I stopped buying or reduced considerably, or stopped buying the more commercial products and found a more eco-alternative. I still do get an urge for somethings and do buy them (such as a packet of crisps) once in a while but it is far less than before. By not buying them, all the waste from their packaging is reduced and not sent to landfills.
One thing to note, if you are trying to follow a more eco friendly life or a more minimalist approach to life, it is not about stopping everything entirely, or making a massive change overnight, unless you really want to. All these things were a gradual change for me and over time it all became more and more of a habit, and yes ideally it is the plan to get to zero waste, but it is difficult in this day and age. So don’t get caught up with that, just focus on making a change as small as it may seem, it all adds up and over time does get bigger.
Also remember this is just what I have reduced, some things may be quite difficult for you to reduce or give up, so please understand this is just what I have done, and what I have done over time. If you want to follow, just reduce one or two things, try using less and being less attached to something that you know you may not need or are not using regularly enough.
bottled or canned drinks
I stopped drinking fizzy/soft drinks and energy drinks many many years ago due to how bad they are for us, even before the internet was around. So naturally this was much easier for me to carry over to other related things. I do not buy any bottled drinks or water. I used to enjoy those Super Ms, yogi sips and bottled milk shakes, but stopped buying any forms of these.
Bottled/Boxed Milk and yoghurts
I also stopped buying milk bottles or boxes. Very occasionally I will buy a box of soya milk to bake with. When I have cereal I have it with fruit and water. I also hardly ever buy yoghurts, even vegan ones. If I do, I will keep the container and make use of it in some way.
I won’t lie, with chocolates and snacks like potato chips, I still do buy them now and then. Although, I’ll try to stick to vegan dark chocolate, and the ones that have compostable packaging.
I gave up on buying creams and body lotions a few years back, once I learned how to make my own from a few natural ingredients that I bought in bulk.
I recently made a full switch to shampoo bars after my last bottled shampoo finished. There are many places to buy these shampoo bars and various brands like the zerobar that can be purchased online as well. Shops like shop zero and nudefoods sell many of them.
face cream, moisturizers
Buying face creams and moisturizers is a thing of the past for me, once I learned how to make my own from a few natural ingredients that I bought in bulk.
roll on under arm deodorant
I stopped buying roll on deodorant also a few years back, once I learned how to make my own from a few natural ingredients that I bought in bulk.
I now buy package free soaps (that can also double as a shampoo bar) or soaps with compostable packaging.
take away meals
Let me just clarify, I still do eat from restaurants or get take aways (far less though), but try to always bring my own container for them to put the food into instead of their packaging.
I now am able to buy granola package free from pick n pay in Constantia in Cape Town or Nudefoods.
common cleaning products
I hardly ever buy commercial cleaning products anymore. It is much simpler and healthier to make my own, using ingredients like vinegar and bicarb soda. Vinegar bottles can be refilled at waste free shops like Shop Zero.
Instead of conventional washing powder I now use bicarb soda with a few drops of essential oil and vinegar.
So those are some of the things I have reduced, given up completely, or found a way to remove the packaging from the process. I hope it was helpful in some way for you, or inspired you in some way 🙂 Please feel free to message me or leave comments here if you would like to know more.