10 Things You Never Need to Buy

We got our inspiration for this post by reading Suburban Pioneers’ list of 10 common products you never need to buy, so we thought we’d spread the wealth and add to their list. So, this is really about 20 things you never have to buy. Do read their list first.

If we all compiled lists of 10 “Never Buy” items complete with explanation, we’d live in a utopian circular economy, my dream economy.  After reading our list, then compile your own and send it along in the comments below. I actually already have a list of 100 items, but I’m going to work up to it, so I don’t overwhelm you.

So, here goes: 10 common items you should never have to buy —

1) Paper towels (Um, use cloth ones.)

2) Hair ties (look in every parking lot and side walk. I’m serious.)

Hair Ties and Hair Clips Recovered From the Parking Lots and Sidewalks of the World. Just wash them. Photo © LIesl Clark

3) Pens (Look in every parking lot and side walk. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of pens I’ve found in public places.)

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

4) Ribbons (Look on every shoreline.)

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

5) Styrofoam Packing Peanuts or bubble wrap (just ask on your local Buy Nothing group.)

6) Ziploc bags (wash them.)

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

7) Plastic children’s toys (just ask any parent for them, they’ll gladly give you a box or 3.)

These Plastic Toys Were Being Thrown Away. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Oh, and if the parents in your neighborhood want to hang on to all that plastic, just make your own toys. Here are a few (hundred) ideas for toys you can make from stuff in your home to get you started:

Click through for innovative ideas for making your own toys or reusing them at Trash Backwards

8) Books (use your library!)

9) Plastic straws (use your lips.)

plastic straws recovered from Point No Point and Schel-Chelb Estuary, WA, photo by Liesl Clark

10) Plastic cigarette lighters (use matches, especially from matchbooks you collect from bars and restaurants.)

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

OK, so now it’s your turn. What’s on your list?

11 thoughts on “10 Things You Never Need to Buy

  1. I haven’t bought padded bags, bubble wrap, A5 or A4 brown envelopes in decades, seriously. I have a cupboard full of them all! My grandsons used to love playing postmen with them! I re-use every one that comes through the door. Ditto plastic clothes bags from online companies (I have to order online), I re-use them to post things I sell on ebay. I also don’t have to buy string, we save the string from our organic veg box delivery. Wrapping paper is always saved and re-used at Christmas and birthday and I also use it for cutting out for patterns on cards etc. In fact, maybe I should reblog this and add my own list!

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  2. Pingback: 10 Things You Never Need to Buy – pearsnotparsnipsdotcom

  3. Hmmm… A difficult one. I’m not really one to buy things I don’t use and reuse.

    Like TheJuiceNut above I keep and reuse padded envelopes and hardbacked envelopes and the like. They often only need a piece of paper putting over the top to put a new address on.
    I reuse plant pots and seed trays.
    I manage to find plenty of pens at work, so no need to buy those. You’d be amazed what gets left in ambulances!

    Other than that I don’t think I actually ‘don’t buy’ anything else really. I’d rather buy a longer lasting version or do without.

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  4. Great list, but I can’t agree about the books. We need to support writers, and independent book sellers on the high street. (I know we can all be trusted not to use Amazon 😦 ). But in addition to that, buying from charity shops keeps used books out of landfill, and is a source of income to the charitable cause running the shop.
    Like Juicenut, I save used decorated papers and ribbons, and I don’t know when I last bought envelopes.

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    • You’re absolutely right, Margaret! I completely agree about the books. Yes, we need to support authors. I was just thinking of my children and how they think to first go out and buy a book they have to read for school, rather than checking the library first. I love supporting local libraries, too. We buy a lot of books, those which are special to us that we want to keep or pass along to loved ones. But the library is a great resource for those books you might have to reference briefly and don’t want to accumulate in your home. Thanks so much for the reminder for me to get out of my head and remember the bigger picture when it comes to supporting artists and authors whom we love.

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      • Yes, and I don’t know about your part of the world, but here, public libaries are suffering from appalling cuts in funding, and increasingly dependent on volunteer staff. So you’re quite right, we need to show we need libraries as well

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  5. Use your lips, gotta love directness. 😊 I hear you on paper towels and so but if anyone has an aversion to picking up used hairbands you can make your own from fabric scraps and tie them in place – no sewing needed. I’ve used denim and jersey fabrics most often and the neck and of t-shirts are great.

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  6. 1. Party hats (why do you need these anyway? It is not what makes a party)
    2. Dryer sheets (people swear by these, but I have never used them in my life, and still cannot figure out why someone would need them). Recently I made and started using wool dryer balls. I think these really speed up drying and reduce wrinkles.
    3. Antibacterial mouthwash (biggest gimmick in history – your mouth MUST have bacteria, you would not be able to digest food without them). Use water and baking soda.
    4. Electric coffee maker (French press does the job much better, takes 1/10th of space, does not require filters and does not make your coffee smell like plastic).
    5. Confetti (if you do the cleaning, you understand; if someone else cleans the space – spare them some dignity).
    6. Air freshers, especially synthetic ones. If your house smells bad, eliminate the source, do not mask it. If you want your house to smell like flowers – bring in the flowers or open your windows. If the bathroom smells, just light a match there – the smell will be gone in seconds.
    7. Christmas decorations. Pine cones are much prettier – and fully compostable. If you want man-made ones – ask around (starting in your local buy Nothing group). People toss than stuff by truckload – take advantage!
    8. Mass-produced souvenirs while you travel. Does anybody really need (or want) a plastic replica of Eiffel tower or plastic cup with Colosseum on it. I personally dread these gifts. If you want a momentum from the place you visited, Opt for a local coin or a little pebble from the beach.
    9. Novel complex powered kitchen gadgets that promise to make you a better cook. They will not.
    10. Moving boxes. Go to your local grocery store at 8 pm – they would be happy to supply you with more than you need.
    Who wants to go next?

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