16 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore

I packed my life into two bags (actually one when I started), for the first time in late 2016 and have been happily living out of them since then (barring 11 months in Mumbai in between).

Being limited by space and my upper body strength, I quite naturally turned into a minimalist like most other backpackers. But the loss of appetite to accumulate things is not something I mourn about, turning a minimalist has been one of the most profound learnings of my life and it’s here to stay.

My occasional tryst with socializing often brings to light some of the everyday things that I no longer buy or have not purchased in years. Here are some things that I used to stock up on pre-backpacking days but have either completely eliminated or reduced the use by a significant level.

Clothes:

Clothes continue to occupy a large part of my main pack but that’s because I have to carry clothes for all weather conditions.

1. Jeans:

  • Year of Last purchase: 2018
  • Currently Own: One pair (which is nearly a decade old)

While a good pair of jeans is amazing in a regular life, they don’t need washing as often as cotton clothes and are suitable for multiple events (I would wear them from a party to walking around).

But when it comes to backpacking, I found jeans to be a poor choice to travel with ( no offense to people who do, it doesn’t work for me). It’s difficult to wash (I often hand-wash my clothes), takes forever to dry, weighs like a ton (mild exaggeration), and occupies a good chunk of the packing cube (no exaggeration).

Since 2016, I have bought one pair of jeans (My parents practically pushed me to, upon looking at my backpacking wardrobe). I bought it in early 2018, continued traveling with it and it ripped in a year’s time (turns out they are not that rugged after all) when I let go of it.

2. Bra (Any kind other than a Sports Bra)

  • Year of Last purchase: 2015/2016
  • Currently Own: One pair

I usually wear a sports bra as I can comfortably sleep in it in a dorm, unlike a regular bra. I do carry one bra for dresses but the one that I have now it years old and I’m not sure if I’ll buy a replacement when it has run its course.

3. Formal Clothes/ Office wear

  • Year of Last purchase: 2016
  • Currently Own: Every piece of clothing in my packing cube is either torn or too faded for a Corporate setting.

This would have been an easy one had I been a remote worker throughout but I did take a project in 2019 that required me to work from a corporate office 5 days a week. It was going to be the test of my minimalistic values and I did not give in to the umpteen sales and office parties. The truth is I never knew when sales were happening, it’s so out of my radar now, that I don’t register or seek that information anymore.

What I did was use the clothes that I had from pre-2016 while continuing to donate clothes that didn’t fit or didn’t feel like me anymore.

4. Special Occasion Clothes

  • Year of Last purchase: 2014 (Bought a lehenga, wore it once)
  • Currently Own: None in my pack

The thing with working in the corporate sector is that people don’t really get what minimalism truly looks like. I would often be asked to ‘just buy’ a certain color or pattern that was ‘essential’ to celebrate a certain day. Being in India, there is no paucity of festivals which means a constant incoming of such requests. I’m quite proud of the fact that I gave into none.

I did try to follow these guidelines as much as possible like on ‘tradition day’, I didn’t have a saree so I wore a long skirt with a plain white t-shirt. On certain occasions, I was the only person wearing an old-faded shirt.

How I feel is not associated with how I dress anymore. Also, I rarely spend time wondering ‘what would they think about me’.

Accessories

5. Jewellery

  • Year of Last purchase: 2017 (Got cheap rings from the Amazon (the rainforest not the app) and lost all four within a year)
  • Currently Own: No rings, change of earrings, chain/necklace, bracelets

I have never been great at accessorizing but I did enjoy changing my earnings every day for a long time that is until I hit the road. I started out with silver rings for four of my piercings and others had the steel stud that I got from the initial piercing. The only time I have changed any of them is in the event of losing the ring/stud.

I don’t buy necklaces, rings, or any other jewelry that might have become a thing that I’m not aware of. Oh yes, bracelets, I don’t buy that either.

6. Handbags/wallets

  • Year of Last purchase: 2015/2016
  • Currently Own: No handbags, one purse

During my year in Mumbai, I once overheard someone say, ‘She has such an amazing collection of handbags’ at the workplace. Of course, not meant for me, it was for someone who changed their handbag every day. At that moment I realized, I had no handbags, not even one. I use my daypack in most places, for days when I only need to carry a water bottle and my wallet, I carry a drawstring bag that I purchased on the side of the road in Pondicherry. I will replace it with another cheap/free bag when it wears off.

I haven’t looked at handbags with any intention of buying in years. Something that was quite an integral part of my Corporate life.

I do have a purse though which I bought many years ago in a small town in Kodaikanal. It has only one pocket and no labels. I will replace it when it’s not usable anymore.

Skin Care and Hair Care

7. Makeup/Nailpaint

  • Year of Last purchase: Don’t remember

I’m not going to lie about my lack of makeup skills. I never developed any interest in it. Somehow in my twenties, I thought it was something people naturally pick up later in life but that ‘later’ for me never happened, mostly out of choice.

I do have one lipstick that was a gift from a dear friend, I’m not sure if I would replace it when it’s run out. I rarely use it so it might even last me many years.

I also have a brown-colored cream that could either be the foundation or something on these lines. I notice it evens my skin tone and it looks more photogenic with it, This was also a gift.

I don’t own any nail paint, or any other sort of makeup. I don’t intend to buy anything either.

8. Salon trips/expensive haircuts

  • Year of Last Purchase: 2015 (Last time I paid more than Rs. 500 for a Salon visit)

There was a time in my life when I said out loud, ‘I don’t trust anyone with my hair other than Habib’s’. Habib was/is a chain of beauty parlors. I was paying 10 years ago what I wouldn’t pay for a haircut even today (forget inflation).

Some of you would know that in 2017, I had shaved my head and that completely changed how I view myself and how I view beauty. I have since then gotten haircuts mostly from men’s salons by the roadside. During Covid, like the rest of the world, I started giving myself haircuts and have been pretty happy with the results.

Footwear

A pair of shoes and a pair of flip flops
My footwear collection

9. Heels

  • Year of Last purchase: 2017
  • Currently Own: None

it took some getting used to feel comfortable going to a club in flip-flops or hiking shoes but now it doesn’t bother me one bit.

A pair of heels is not something that I use often so it’s not part of my life anymore.

Technology

10. Smart Speaker/ Smartwatch/ Tablet etc.

I absolutely don’t get technological fads. I still don’t get the purpose of a tablet if you already have a phone and a laptop. I’m sure there are people who find value in it but I’m quite at my limits with all the charging cables. A reason I don’t like Bluetooth headphones either. I don’t want another device to charge every few days or is it every day?

I do have a Fitbit though which is a gift from my elder brother, in spite of my insistence that I didn’t need it. There’s no doubt in my mind that I will not buy one myself for a long long time (I want to say ‘ever’ but what if I become a millionaire and a smartwatch with some solid practical use comes along?).

Oh, and Fitbit was quite a disappointment with screen cracking within months, watch started acting up after less than two years of use. Not replacing it with a new one for sure.

Others

11. Souvenirs

  • Year of Last purchase: 2017

The horrid days of buying souvenirs for my friends and family are behind me. I barely see familiar people, by the time I see them, it’s often unplanned and how many fridge magnets can a person really keep traveling with? I still have some left from Colombia.

12. Books (Paperback)

  • Year of Last purchase: 2021
  • Currently Own: One (until I finish reading it)

This is also a bit of a grey area. I do buy paperbacks but not for myself, it’s generally to gift and these are books that I have read and loved. For personal use, I buy e-books. I do occasionally have a paperback but that’s from a library’s free section or exchanged at a hostel, when I’m done, I pass it along as well.

13. Single-use water bottles

I do occasionally have had to buy a water bottle but it’s very rare (like a handful of times a year). This is in contrast to my previous lifestyle when I didn’t consider any other option but to get packaged water every day or a few times a day.

Many places now understand if you want to refill your reusable water bottle and would guide you in the right direction.

14. Expensive meals

This is bit of a grey area, I don’t mean I have completely stopped eating out in what I consider ‘expensive’ or fancy places. What I mean is it’s not a weekend routine like it used to be (Esp. in Mumbai).

Eating at expensive restaurants happens to either treat myself or to try out a popular place or food. At times, it’s multiple times a week and at times it’s not for weeks.

15. Menstrual Pads/tampons

  • Year of Last purchase: 2017

I don’t bleed free but have switched to menstrual cups. I bought my first cup in 2017 and have never looked back since then. Menstrual cup does not produce nearly as much waste as menstrual pads or tampons do and a cup can easily last upto 5 years. I save money and space, a win-win switch.

Absolutely life-changing.

16. Fabric Softener/ Conditioner

  • Year of Last purchase: 2016
  • Currently Own: None

I remember having a cabinet filled with Laundry things, now I traveled with a small pack of laundry detergent, that’s it. My clothes are all very soft because that is how I buy them and then use them until they start to fall apart. The primary criteria for me to buy a piece of clothing is, that it should feel good on my skin.

A question I ask myself before Making a Purchase

Something we don’t generally consider while buying things is the second cost of that purchase. As David from Raptitude puts it. Everything we buy has a second cost like maintenance, repairs, space, the time we take learning to use it etc.

For me the second cost is generally the weight it would add to my backpack, the space it would occupy that I might need for an essential item, and am I ready to bear the burden. The answer is usually no for anything that’s not essential or a replacement for an existing thing.

A simple question to gauge the second cost is, ‘Will this cost me time in the future or save me time in the future?’.

2 thoughts on “16 Things I Don’t Buy Anymore”

  1. Hey Manisha, read you up after a long time.
    This is a great write, a much needed jolt of inspiration, I can maybe tick off only half of these.
    Thank you. Hope you’re having tons of fun wherever on the map you are.

    Snehit.

    Reply
    • Hi Snehit, thanks for stopping by (this space has started to feel like home). Thank you for the encouragement and I wish you good luck on your minimalism journey. It’s definitely far easier on the road.
      And yes, life is good 🙂 Hope it’s been kind to you as well.

      Reply

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