Here are twenty things I stopped buying in 2023 to cut down on money, time, clutter, and packaging waste, as well as what I replaced them with.
One of my goals for this year is to decrease the amount of time I spend doing routine cleaning, money spent on unnecessary items, and waste that gets thrown away. I took a hard look at the way I was living and consuming products last year and decided it was time to make a big change. I’m still on a long journey of turning around my purchasing habits, but these twenty items were the very first to be cut out of my shopping lists.
Things I’m Not Buying In 2023
1. Single-Use Disinfectant Wipes. Yes, these make life easier. But they also produce a lot of unnecessary waste and the canisters take up quite a bit of room. Now I buy spray bottles of cleaning solutions (Method is my preferred brand) and I use microfiber cloths with them. These cloths can be thrown into the washing machine again and again, so no more throwing away two to four wipes a day.
2. Dryer Sheets. When I started doing some digging on how bad dryer sheets are for my clothes, I immediately decided they weren’t for me anymore. So now I use wool dryer balls to prevent static electricity in my clothes and blankets, and they also help keep towels nice and fluffy. I do still keep some cheap dryer sheets on hand from the dollar store to clean baseboards, though, because they’re great at removing and repelling hair and pet fur.
3. Surprise & Mystery Boxes. When you buy a surprise box from a monthly or quarterly subscription company or a mystery bag from the craft store, you are literally paying for items you may not want or need. The items you don’t use or like end up becoming clutter in your home, and you usually feel guilty about getting rid of them since you paid for them. By cutting out surprise boxes altogether and shopping intentionally, I’ve been able to cut down on a lot of random stuff that just sits around my house and never gets used.
4. Zip-Top Bags. Well, I kind of stopped buying these. I ordered some reusable storage bags for food items we had been using for snacks and lunches to cut down on the amount we were throwing away. But I do still keep them on hand for freezing soups and meats or sending leftovers home with dinner guests. I would love to cut them out of my life completely, but at this point in my life, it’s just not sustainable for me. By using the reusables more often, I do buy the single-use zip-top bags a lot less often, though.
5. Single-Use Mop Pads. I used to use a Swiffer Wet Jet which required single-use mop pads. This was definitely convenient, but they’re pretty expensive, especially for someone like me whose entire house is hard flooring. I was going through three pads in one mopping session (bathrooms, kitchen, and living areas) which was costing a ton to keep stocked. I switched to this mop with a machine washable pad and ordered two extra pads, too. Now I can just throw them in the washing machine after mopping and use them over and over again.
6. Less Streaming Services. It seems like nowadays every network has its own streaming service. A couple of years ago, you could cut out cable and save almost a hundred dollars by switching to a streaming service. But now streaming has spread so thin, and the options just keep growing, which sent the cost rising back to cable prices again. This year we evaluated which streaming services we watched most often and dropped the rest. We don’t spend an hour looking through all the channels and we don’t forget about series we had started anymore.
7. Amazon Prime Membership. I know, you’re probably thinking this sounds crazy, but hear me out. Without a Prime membership, I can still order anything I want from Amazon and I can still get free shipping as long as I spend over $25. So now if I need something from Amazon and it’s under $25, I just put it in the cart and wait until I need other things. This practice has greatly improved impulse buys and packaging waste. If I need that one item sooner, I just go to a local store and buy it. That prevents me from dealing with plastic bubbles and cardboard boxes altogether.
8. Books. I used to buy books pretty frequently, both physical and digital. But one day I realized what a waste that has been because I almost never read them again. So here I am with a bookshelf full of books that may not get touched again for years. We joined our local library last month and I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner. We can check out books, movies, and games for free. And you can even use your library card to check out audiobooks and ebooks online from universal libraries.
9. Car Wash and Vacuums. The local car wash in my town just raised their prices again for the third time. The cheapest wash option is now $10 and the best is $22. That’s a lot of money to spend on one wash! Now I just wash my car in my driveway and it only costs me the $4 for the washing solution. I try to conserve as much water as I can, and I get the benefit of some good Vitamin D on a sunny weekend day. I also use a large-capacity vacuum to clean my car’s interior. (Side note, if you need to wash your car often for your job, consider a membership to a local car wash. This saves you a lot of money and time.)
10. Gym Membership. We paid for a gym membership for years, but we didn’t really feel like we used it enough to validate the expense. Especially since there are so many exercises that can be done at home. Now we walk, jog, and bike through our neighborhood and started a small collection of workout equipment. There are free workout videos on TikTok and Youtube that are great. I even cancelled our Peloton membership after realizing you can still use most of the features and class replays without it.
11. “Occasion” Makeup. This was an easy one to cut out for me. I usually wear the same makeup all the time. When I was decluttering my bathroom last month, I found all kinds of random makeup I had bought for one-off occasions. That stuff got used one time, then just sat in the drawer afterward. Now if I need a bright lipstick for a costume party, I just get a sample from a store instead of the whole tube.
12. Coffee From Coffee Shops. I have a very nice coffee maker at home, and I’m not really picky or fancy about my coffee orders, so when I decided to give up Starbucks, it wasn’t a huge a shift for me. Sure, I’ll still grab a hot blonde latte with oat milk and four pumps of honey blend if I’m out running errands all day or having a morning date with my family, but for the most part, I’m just as happy with a plain black coffee in my favorite mug at home. I also ordered these reusable pods in place of disposable ones.
13. Snack-Sized Chips, Crackers, and Trail Mixes. Yes, these small packages are super convenient. Especially for stashing in my computer bag before going downstairs to my studio to work. But the amount of trash we were throwing away (and extra money spent) just made me feel a little guilty. I can buy a large bag of chips for a third of the price (and one foil bag instead of twelve) and pop a handful in a bowl when I want a snack. And making my own trail mix blends has become the highlight of my weekend. I load up these airtight containers and have snacks for a week.
14. Gallons Of Tea. Time for some math. We had been buying one gallon of Milos Sweet Tea for $3.50. We switched to buying a 24pk of Lipton Gallon-Sized Tea Bags for $7.50. Oh and the bag of sugar needed to sweeten it costs $5. So that’s $12.50 for twenty four gallons of sweet tea, versus $84 for twenty four gallons of Milos. Sure, I have to make the tea, but it takes me 6 minutes. I’m mad at myself for wasting that much money and plastic gallon jugs for so long.
15. Single-Use Batteries. As a parent of a teenager, we can go through batteries pretty quickly. I have no idea how those electronics can drain through a whole pack of batteries in a month, but I found a more cost-effective and zero-waste alternative. These batteries are completely rechargeable and they even come with an organizer to store them in. I bought two sets and I never hear “we’re out of double A’s” from a panicked teen again.
16. Magazines. I’ll admit, I had been trying to give up magazines for years. They’re my guilty pleasure for sure. But when I’d cancel a subscription I’d find myself buying them from the grocery store, then resubscribing to save money, then starting the whole cycle over again. What finally made me let them go this year was the realization that the pages are filled with 95% advertisements. The articles are ads, the roundups are promotions, even the photos are geared towards marketing. I’m trying to save money, not spend more. Now if I need inspo, I just scroll Pinterest for free.
17. Throw Pillows. Throw pillows are a fun way to change up the look of your house for the seasons without completely redecorating, but they are bulky to store when they’re not in use. When it comes to pillows, I have more than enough. But as someone who likes to redecorate often, I didn’t want to give up the new pillow look. Now I buy only pillow covers. I can keep the same throw pillows and just change the cover. The ones I’m not using are folded neatly in a basket in storage. I do the same thing for duvets, too.
18. Unnecessary Organizers. Here’s the truth straight from a former professional organizer. Not everything needs a specialty organizer. You don’t have to have a bin made just for gift wrap, and you don’t need a pencil case with straps for each individual marker. (But if you like them and they work for you, they’re still a good buy.) I think there’s a fine line between being organized and being careless with our purchases. Buy organizers you need that make your life easier. But if what you’re doing now works fine, you can skip the specialty containers.
19. Getting Manicures and Pedicures. This one is a tie for saving money and saving time. I can give myself a pedicure at home while I’m watching a movie, and I can do my own nails with these easy to press acrylics in ten minutes flat. When we were evaluating our finances, we quickly realized that these mini spa days would be the first to go. I’ll admit, my husband and I do still get pedicures on a date night sometimes, but it’s more of a special occasion and no longer a recurring expense.
20. Cheap Storage Bins. Cheap containers may seem like a good idea in the moment, but they break easily and have to be replaced over and over again. When you invest in good ones once, you never have to buy again. I understand that nice storage bins are a stretch for some budgets, but I encourage you to “make do” with recycled shoeboxes until you can upgrade to something that will last versus spending the same $5 over and over again for the same container that keeps breaking.
I’d love to know what you have cut out of your shopping lists to save time, money, and waste in your own home and lifestyle. Let me know in the comments below what you’d add to this list!