I love bookstores. Used bookstores, new bookstores, I’m not picky. I love how books smell and how they feel. I have an e-reader now (a very practical and minimalist possession) but I still feel a yearning to hold a heavy, hard-cover book. I used to buy lots and lots of used books online. Especially in high school, but even in more recent years. I would go to used bookstores, and the books would be so inexpensive that I would just want to buy 6. When we moved across the country from Rhode Island to Southern California, I donated or gave family members every book I owned (they would never have fit in our little car that we moved in). Since then (about nine months ago), I haven’t bought a single book. Around that time, I became much more interested in minimalism (and saving money) and discovered a beautiful place I had somehow almost forgotten about: the library. Now it’s so great. I get to bring home six books every week if I want to, and if I end up not reading some of them, it’s okay because I didn’t spend any money (although I did pay taxes, which is another great reason to take advantage of your local library).
 FAST FASHION/TRENDY CLOTHING
Online shopping was where most of my money went before I had bills and rent and being a grown up to think about. It is so addictive to scroll through the Forever 21 sale section and look at all the cute new things that are so cheap that I could buy 10 items for the price of one dress at a more expensive store. After watching The True Cost, a documentary that uncovers the really upsetting truth about the fast fashion industry, I radically changed my clothing purchasing habits. Living my life in a more minimalist way has also impacted my relationship to clothes. Now, I’m much more interested in only buying clothing items that I need. I also try to either buy second hand items or high-quality and ethically-made clothes, focusing on taking care of what I already have, instead of thinking of how I could improve my wardrobe by constantly adding new trendy pieces. If you’re trying to make this switch in your life, I highly recommend a simple and classic wardrobe with a consistent color palette, so you can mix and match everything you have.
Makeup is something I fell in love with when I was 15. My go-to for many years there was wearing bright and bold lipstick shades, almost every day. Since I am rather daring in the lipstick colors I’ll wear, I was always perusing the drugstore aisles for new colors to try. I would rationalize a lipstick purchase in my head by saying “I only have blue-toned reds, but an orange-toned red would really change up my look.” If you’re really into makeup, this logic probably makes total sense to you, and if you want a bunch of different tones of red lipstick and they make you excited and happy, that’s totally of course okay. For me, I just realized that makeup isn’t as important to me as it once was, and I’ve learned to appreciate the natural pink tone of my lips, so I almost always just wear lip balm now. When I go into a drugstore now, I don’t feel compelled to check out the makeup aisles for what’s new. If I’m out of concealer or mascara, I just go straight to the cruelty-free brands that I like, and pick out an inexpensive one that’ll do the job. It’s really crazy how much my relationship to makeup has changed. I still love to wear it, but minimalism has me reevaluating all of my interests and deciding what really feels like me.
 SHAVING CREAM
An idea I’ve heard a lot in the minimalism community is having multi-use products. Aiming for fewer items in my home, shaving cream was probably the first thing I stopped buying. I have the smallest shower on the planet, so shaving my legs requires mid-level acrobatics skills, and I definitely don’t do it that often. Since shaving isn’t a daily activity for me anyway, I always use either conditioner or soap for shaving now. I think conditioner works possibly better than shaving cream, and it frees up some of the square-footage in our little shower, only having a few products in there. I wash my hair around every 4 days too, so it’s not like I go through conditioner really fast. This multi-use product solution has been great for me, saving money and space.
 NAIL POLISH
I’ve been a barista for six months, and where I work, we’re not allowed to wear nail polish. I guess the fear is that it could chip off into someone’s latte, which honestly is something I could see happening, so I think it’s a fair rule. I used to constantly paint my nails. From the age of 14 to 22, I don’t think I went more than a week without nail polish on. I always painted my own nails, but I wasn’t that good at it, so it would look kind of messy, and I would chip it off in a fit of anxiety and then my nails would be stained orange from the brightly-colored polish, and then I would paint them again the next day. It was a pungent-smelling cycle. I had weak and brittle nails, probably because of this. Now that I’ve gone cold turkey with the nail polish, my nails are brighter and stronger than they’ve ever been. I save time that I would spend painting my nails and waiting for them to dry, and I like that I’m not using as many chemicals on my body. The picture above shows all the nail polishes I owned until recently when I realized I was very content to not own nail polish anymore. I figure that if I have an event or something, I could always get a manicure. The cost would be a lot less than the combined cost of all the nail polish bottles I’ve bought in the past.
Along with my frequent online shopping for trendy cheap clothing, I used to buy accessories, like earrings that I was slightly allergic to and headbands that I never wore, all too often. They always looked so good on the models, you know? Minimalism has changed my perspective on the real value of inexpensive purchases. Now before buying something, I try to think about the fact that a person made it (or a machine, depending on what it is, I suppose). Considering a fair hourly wage and the time it takes to make something, a new shirt from the mall should never cost $3. Additionally, if an item is very inexpensive (compared to what a nice quality item of the same type would cost), chances are it’s very low in quality and will not last long. In the past, I bought numerous pieces of jewelry from stores like Forever 21 that broke on my first day wearing them or turned my fingers green or were already broken when they arrived in the mail. Then they ended up in a drawer somewhere in my house, and I’d never spend money or time to fix them because they cost $5 and weren’t worth the effort. It’s a cycle of consumerism and I’m happy to consider myself working my way out of it. Lately I realized I don’t even like how it feels physically to wear much jewelry. I have one watch, a couple pairs of earrings, and a few special necklaces, and it’s all I need. Headbands give me a headache. I do like a good beanie though.
Are you on a minimalist journey too? What kinds of things have you realized you no longer need to buy?
Until next time,