Since becoming a minimalist I've reduced my overall consumption level, and my spending habits have changed for the better. During this process I've become much more aware of the things that bring me genuine value and those that don't. So today I'm sharing 10 things that I used to think I needed or wanted that were actually just wasting my money, cluttering my physical and mental space, and contributing to excess waste.
1. Fast Fashion
Fast fashion companies are flooding the fashion market by continuously churning out cheaply made clothing and accessories thereby producing heavy waste at an accelerated rate. The environmental impact goes beyond the product itself. Resources are depleted just from the harvesting of the fibers for the fabric, the chemicals used to create textile, and the water and fuel used in the factories. It gets worse, the manufacturers of these brands are outsourced to third world countries where the employees end up working under unethical and questionable conditions with low pay wages.
Because of this I am sticking to a capsule wardrobe, and if I'm ever in the market for something new I will try and purchase items secondhand when I can. I'm not perfect at this just yet, but I'm definitely moving in the direction towards slow fashion.
2. Hair Styling Products
I grew up in a household where my parents always had hair spray, mousse, and pomade lying around so when I was finally on my own it seemed like hair products was just something one owned. It didn't help that beauty gurus with fantastic locks and beach babe tresses adorned the internet making me feel like I needed that dry shampoo or that hair serum in order to achieve the perfect head of hair. The reality is I very rarely (if not never) style my hair and the hair products I once owned have all been donated or are now wasting away in a landfill somewhere. If I want sexy bed head I'll just wake up in the morning, and that's good enough for me.
3. Costume Jewelry
This is definitely related to number 1, but I wanted to make it it's own category because of the specific reasons I no longer want to purchase costume jewelry. Plain and simple, a lot of costume jewelry are cheap and poorly made. This is especially true when it comes to fast fashion retailers. I used to impulse buy jewelry fairly often simply because they were so cheap and fulfilled my temporary high. What more, a lot of the jewelry that I owned in the past were trendy "statement" pieces that I no longer find appealing. Nowadays I would much rather own only a few simple, quality pieces that I know will go with anything I own and are guaranteed to last me a lifetime.
4. Coffee Table Books
I used to be really into interior design and decor trends, and one of those trends were coffee table books. I'd purchase coffee table books with the idea that it would make my home look more beautiful and sophisticated while showcasing how "cultured" I am. Aside from the decor, I had this idea in my head that I'd use these books for inspiration, and I'd have a book for guests to sift through while I cook dinner and serve appetizers. Yeah, no. In reality it just took up space on my coffee table and collected dust on my shelves. Nine times out of ten I use the internet for my source of inspiration anyway. It's honestly easier and much more convenient. Plus, I'm willing to bet that whatever are in those books are just as easily accessible online. And let's be real, I'd much rather food take up the space on my coffee table.
When it comes to glassware I just repurpose old food jars. I can drink out of them, store food in them, and use them as vases. Three in one and I didn't even need to spend extra money or further harm the environment. Bonus, if I end up breaking one by accident it wouldn't be a total waste!
6. One-off Decor Items
I'd prefer not add extra clutter to my space strictly for ornamental reasons. Ideally whatever decor I bring into my space will also be functional and serve multiple purposes. Not every single thing I currently own is 100% used for functional reasons, but I do try and keep those decor items to a minimum.
7. Excess Art Supplies
As an artist, growing up I used to feel the need to own every medium of art. In order to be a "true artist" I had to own multiple types of paint: acrylic, watercolor, gouache, oil; I had to have pastels, markers, pencils, charcoal; and of course I had to have the correct paper to go with each. Now let me tell you, none of that is cheap! Of course, I already owned a lot of these from my high school art classes and ones that were required for my fashion design courses in college, but I also ended up buying some of these items. And even long after I graduated, I continued to hoard the art supplies I never really used. Thankfully I've pared down my art supplies to the essentials, ones that I actually enjoy and use today. I don't need all that excess stuff to be a true artist. That true artist has been in me all along even when it was just me, a scrap of paper, and a No. 2 pencil.
8. Extra Notebooks
I used to collect notebooks, and for what? I barely even used them because they were just "too pretty" and I wanted to save them for something special. What a waste! I had no reason to own these notebooks when they weren't even serving a purpose. If I had a different mindset then I could've saved more trees form being cut down. I now only have 2 notebooks, one for general note taking and another as my bullet journal/planner. Unless I find a true need for another one I don't see myself purchasing a new one any time soon.
9. Excess Skincare
I used to think that in order to have perfectly healthy skin I needed to buy multiple skincare products and follow all the marketed skincare steps to a T. I'd do the whole thing, the cleansers, the toners, the serums, the eye cream, the exfoliators, all that jazz. And let me tell you, just one of those items are NOT cheap so you can only imagine how much that adds up, and honestly, a lot of these products aren't even the best for you.
Thankfully I've left my impressionable early 20s behind and have now simplified my skincare routine down to the bare essentials. I've completely ditched serums, eye creams, traditional cleansers, moisturizers, and toners. The products I do use focus on just a few natural quality ingredients. Now my face (and my wallet!) is all the better for it!
10. Seasonal Items
I no longer feel the need to purchase seasonal items simply because it's a certain time of year. I'm not just talking about holiday decor or Halloween costumes here. I'm talking about all the seasonal items that come to the market, even the one that seem so insignificant. I used to feel like a lot of my seasonal purchases were justifiable simply because it was a certain time of year. I had to have that Fall scented candle, that new summer lipstick shade, or that wintery hot drink when I really didn't need them at all.
Brand marketers are really good at implanting this idea in our heads, as though if you didn't purchase their new pumpkin spice [insert product type here] you'd be missing out, and of course they make all these items limited edition further driving that "gotta have now" mentality.
I still love themed holidays, but I no longer let the season dictate my purchases and instead choose to buy or not to buy based on a conscious and intentional decision.
Now please keep in mind that I am in no way saying that you need to eliminate these things from your life. These are just what I've found don't fit into my current lifestyle. Everyone has their own needs and preferences so your list might look completely different from mine and that's okay. There's no one-size-fits-all in minimalism. Just continue to live your life authentically, intentionally, and mindfully. That, in my opinion, is what minimalism is all about.