8 Things I Try Not to Buy

By Polly Conner
June 8, 2015

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A few months ago I shared a post, 8 Things I Never Buy. There were a lot of things that I wanted to add to that post but couldn’t, simply because I sometimes do buy them. As a follow up to the post about things I never buy, here are 8 things I try NOT to buy (but sometimes do).

1. Plastic Bags

We are a plastic bag nation. We are so used to doing what is easy and not even thinking about the repercussions. This is especially true when it comes to using plastic baggies. Goodness, how I used to fly through these–especially now that we are packing lunches for kids. More and more, I’m trying to make an effort to use reusable containers when possible. For example, I used to freeze almost all of our food in gallon ziplocks. However, now that I’m stocked up on quality, freezable containers I find myself doing less of this. I’ve also purchased some small containers for lunches that we’ve been reusing. Here are some great reusable snack bags that I buy about once a year. Yes, it’s been an investment on the front end but when thinking long-term, going with reusable options makes more sense.

2. Paper Towels

A few years ago, we started using rags instead of paper towels. I can’t say we don’t ever use paper towels because we do. But we now have a basket of cheap white rags next to our paper towel roll that we use most of the time. After a rag is dirty we simply throw it in a basket under the sink. When the basket gets full (usually after a day or two) I just throw the rags in the washer and run a bleach cycle. It really doesn’t take much work and I can honestly say we have saved money and waste by moving to this method. Yes, there are times that we do use paper towels so I plan on having them around, like, forever. But this is just one small step that we have taken to be a bit kinder to the environment and our budget.

3. Juice

I like juice. I’m not a juice hater.

However, what I didn’t realize until I started trying to lose weight was that juice has a lot of (natural) sugar and calories.  While 100% natural fruit juice offers a great deal of nutrients and is highly recommended over a soda or other sugary drinks, it is not nearly as nutritious as eating the natural, raw, whole fruit itself. There is certainly nothing wrong with drinking fruit juice (as long as it is 100% real fruit juice), but I’ve learned it really is best in moderation. When I actually do buy juice, I often water it down a bit before giving it to my kids. This not only makes it go farther but it also cuts back on the sugars they are consuming.

Let the record show, I am pro-juice. Just in moderation.

4. Non-Organic Apples


I’ll be honest. I’m a little hot and cold when it comes to buying organic foods. Sometimes we are loaded up on organic fruits and vegetables and sometimes our stuff came straight from the chemical factory. OK, that’s an huge exaggeration but in reality, I don’t buy organic as much as I should. My one exception to my wavering organic convictions is apples. There are a few reasons I almost always buy organic apples. The primary reason is that compared to other produce, they have one of the highest amount of pesticide residues (source). Since my kids eat apples close to every single day, I error on the side of caution when it comes to this particular fruit. Here are the fruits and vegetables to be careful about buying nonorganic if you’re interested.

5. Apps on my iPhone

I have had an iPhone for a long time. I’m pretty sure I had an iPhone 1 actually. (Did they actually call it that?) In all those years I think I’ve actually paid money for an app 3 times. Ironically, those three apps I paid for are no longer on my phone.

My strategy in life is to keep my phone boring.

I figure that I spend too time hunched over and distracted by my phone as it is so there is no reason to PAY money to spend more time on my phone. If I bought a bunch of apps for my kids, I’d be fighting even bigger battles over phone custody than I do now. If the app isn’t free, I just avoid it.

6. Diapers

I wish I could tally up how much money we’ve saved by cloth diapering our two kids. It’s hard to measure at this point but I’m guessing it’s in the thousands. Seriously.

Not to mention the amount of trash and waste we have avoided by using cloth diapers. In case you didn’t know, those things do not decompose. At least for 250+ years. The idea of my baby’s poo being wrapped up when my great-great-great grandchildren are born is quite alarming (and quite disgusting).

Even though I am a cloth diapering advocate, we do use disposable on a pretty regular basis. We use them at night since my two year old would dominate a cloth diaper’s absorbency if left in it for 12 hours. We also use them when we are on the go or have him in the care of someone outside the house (church, gym, etc.).

So I guess what I’m saying is despite my loyalty to cloth diapering, we still do buy disposables to have on hand. No shame in that.

7. Toys with Itty Bitty pieces

The other day I was at a friend’s house. In her toy room was a collection of no less than 1,000 small lego pieces. While I’m sure her kids spent hours building, creating and imagining different ways to use them, the idea of that many legos is my personal nightmare. So far, we’ve pretty much been able to avoid toys with lots of small pieces. Problem is, as kids get older, they seem to prefer the toys that have 300 small, edible, easy to step on in the middle of the night, always scattered about pieces. Thanks to Nana, we did come up with a few Barbie outfits and accessories.  Without fail, I find miniature high heels and barely visible designer purses in the strangest places. That being said, we are doing our best to go as long as we can without toys that can be vacuumed up.

2018 Update: We now have Legos. Lots of Legos. They are unavoidable. The older kids get, the smaller toys get. Best of luck to you. 

8. Harsh Hand Cleaners

DIY, all-natural hand sanitizer made with doTERRA On Guard essential oil | Thriving Home

In my opinion, hand sanitizer is way overused. It’s everywhere and has seemed to replace the more effective and safer option, washing hands with soap in water. In addition to that, 75% of hand sanitizer gels contain Triclosan, a potentially harmful chemical that is proving to be pretty nasty.

For the times that hand washing just isn’t in the cards, we have moved to using a safer, natural DIY cleaner. It’s super easy to make and is made up of recognizable ingredients. Here is the tutorial on how to make your own hand cleaner.

Or if DIY is not your jam, Meyer’s Hand Soaps are my go-to alternative.

There are many more things I could add to this list but I’ll stop here. If you liked this list, swing by my other post, 8 Things I Never Buy. Feel free to comment and share anything you try not to buy (but sometimes do).

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3 replies
  1. Scarlett Johnson says:

    We prefer reusable cloth bags instead of those plastic bags. I’ve heard that some of the recycling machines cannot handle them and that’s why some supermarkets have separate bins for them. About Lego blocks, well, that’s a whole new story, but yes – it is unpleasant to step over one of those pieces but I agree that they boost the creativity of the children a lot! Greetings, Rubbish Clearance Dulwich Ltd.

  2. Kathy says:

    I would say I agree and do all these, but the small toy pieces. My kids have loved Legos, and I think the creativity they provoke is worth it. We keep them in a large rubbermaid container. They put down a blanket on the floor while playing with them. When done, we grab the corners and dump/funnel them back into their container. My daughter was never into Barbies, but all of mine have loved Legos. Sometimes, it is worth it to come up with ways to make it work. Have a blessed day!

    • Polly says:

      Yeah, I totally agree. I know we are headed that way but just want to hold off as long as possible! That is a GREAT idea to keep them all on a blanket though.