• Zero Waste Shanghai

20 things I Don’t Buy Anymore


It’s true that going Zero Waste means to make some initial “investments” (produce bags, maybe a good food processor, a compost bin, …). But what we don’t often talk about is what we don’t buy anymore …

Here’s my list of the 20 things I don’t buy anymore since going Zero Waste:



  1. Toothpaste: That’s right, I do buy the ingredients to make my tooth powder, but to be fair, it’s most likely 30 yuan for toothpaste for 2 years.. And, … no plastic waste

  2. Conditioner: I have found the right shampoo bar for me (also no plastic packaging), which means I don’t add any conditioner to my hair. If my hair is a bit rough because of the seasons (thank you winter) then I will oil it instead. (= oil pulling)​​

  1. Tampons and/ or plastic pads: Yes, I did ‘invest’ in the menstrual cup, but this will keep me good for 10 years! So no more investing sooo much money in unhealthy tampons or pads. (yay!)

  2. One-time use face masks: No more Sephora, whatever-you-name-it face masks that end up in the trash. Some good natural aloe vera (fresh aloe vera leaf or clay masks) is my new natural, almost-free, healthy face mask.​


  1. Cotton pads: not that I use it often anyway, but I use reusable ones that can be washed. Huge savings in water and cotton.

  2. Processed food: it’s a bit crazy to me that I have zero interest in buying a pack of cookies, or some ready made meals anymore. You will find me buying some things like coconut water or oat milk (tetrapack), or pasta (occasionally), but no overpackaged, low in nutrients food. Most of the goodies I get in bulk at the market.

  3. Disposable cups: yes… you pay for those cups. Most of the coffee shops will give you a proper discount for bringing your own bottle, hence I don’t buy the disposable cups anymore.

  4. Plastic film: I don’t buy tin foil, plastic film or aluminum paper anymore to keep my food fresh: Beeswax and tupperwares are the way!

  5. Hummus: well, I may indulge in a hummus platter at my favourite kebab place, but I don’t buy packaged hummus, mayonnaise, etc. anymore. It takes a couple of minutes of my time to make my own vegenaise or my own homemade hummus. I did invest in a good food processor, but my meals are definitely got cheaper.​


  1. Herb packs: I love growing my own herbs. Not only do certain herbs grow all year long (rosemary, mint, …) but also, it smells amazing and something keeps mosquitos and bugs out. Also you can grow your herbs in spring/ summer and then dry them for winter (super easy). Also, italian herbs is a basically a nice mix of oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme .. no need to have that packaged.

  2. Yoghurt: I put it in here, because even though I don’t eat yoghurt anymore, I know a lot of people love their yoghurt. Did you know that by ‘investing’ 150 yuan on a yoghurt maker, you can make your own yoghurt overnight? It takes you less than 2 min: pour preferred milk in the tin provided, add one spoon of already made yoghurt and press start for 9-12 hours.​


  1. Sponges: I have my own tawashi woven sponge and a little brush that you find in Chinese kitchenware stores. Super cheap and lasts for long. My tawashi is washed every two weeks with my laundry.

  2. Souvenirs or small trinkets: that don’t have or will have a proper space in my home and will mostly end up in the bin a couple of months/ years. I do love to travel and have souvenirs, but I’d get a ceramic mug, or a postcard/ poster I would use as decoration, food (!!!), … things I would use, instead of just leaving it on a shelf and collect dust.

  3. Seasonal decorations: I like a cosy house, but I am also minimalistic. Also, seasonal decorations take up space and storage. So I would keep it to seasonal fruits or maybe one small detail (a christmas sock) or use natural elements (dried leaves in fall, etc)

  4. Paper towels: I get it. It’s easy and convenient, but once you get used to using a little fabric towel and rinsing it off, it’s actually great! Paper towels are made from trees (sad emoji), a LOT of water and even MORE chemicals.

  5. Multiple Cleaning Products: there’s a lot (if not almost everything) that we can do with some baking soda and white vinegar. Plus, it’s much cheaper too…

  6. Books: As in .. new ones! I buy all my books second hand for less than 10 rmb or I get many for free. Especially with people leaving Shanghai so often, books is one of those things that I simply don’t buy anymore. I do use Audible or Podcasts (I am a HUGE podcast fan).

  7. Cheap technology: so many new technologies come up and they’re so easy (and cheap) to get. But now I try to think one step further, and ask myself if I really need, if it will last a long time, if it’s good quality. On a regular basis I use my speaker for music, one pair of wireless earphones, my computer, an ipad (for spinning) and a battery pack.

  8. Magazines: inspiration is everywhere and I don’t need magazines anymore (like I did before). Pinterest, blogs and podcasts are my new sources.

  9. (small) water bottles: I don’t buy plastic bottles anymore, I currently use a dispenser and wherever I go, I ask for my water bottle to be refilled. No more plastic bottles!​

#ZWSMovement #womensday #recyclingchina #greenchina #sustainablechina

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