\nBeing a conscious consumer is about so much more than just avoiding plastic. Really, what we should be cheering on is an overall reduction in waste. The reason plastic gets such a bad name is that we produce – and throw away – so much of it! The world produces 300 million tons of plastic every year and 50% of that will only be used one. While we know plastic will probably never decompose, if you’re throwing other things in the landfill, they’re not going be much better. That’s because landfills create sealed environments where decomposing bacteria just can’t survive. Take a look at this newspaper that’s been sitting in a landfill since 1965, and is still good to read over your morning coffee.\nSo eliminating single-use plastic – bags, food wrap, shampoo bottles (but, of course!) are easy wins. But choosing products that you won’t have put into landfill – plastic or otherwise – is even better.\nI’ve always been a fairly eco-friendly kind of shopper, mostly because of the way I was raised. My mum hated waste – especially with food. She didn’t buy a lot of things, and we never had bottled water or takeaway cups, and used an old fashioned lunch box instead of plastic wrap for our school lunches. But working for Ethique, my eco-consciousness has gone even further, and that’s meant making quite big changes in the way I buy. The good news is that it hasn’t at all impacted on my lifestyle – if anything, having less stuff has made my life better. So today, I thought I’d share a few things I no longer buy – and therefore, no longer throw away.\n10 things I no longer buy \n \n1. Cheap winter clothesIt’s good to remember: polyester is plastic. That cheap fashion coat won’t just do a bad job of keeping you warm, it’ll also add to our world’s growing pile of with-us-forever landfill. Natural fibres are infinitely superior – they wick away moisture, trap heat and minimise smells (so long, plastic-bag pits!) That means fewer layers, and a warmer you - especially good if you’re like me and love getting outdoors.\n\n^ Actual footage of me when I still wore polyester\nYes, yes all good points, Jen, but wool is a lot pricier. The ticket price is, this is true. It’s also true that higher-quality clothes last longer – you pay more upfront, but get far (far, far) more wears out of them. To keep my outlay to a minimum, I always start my winter shopping in opp shops and secondhand stores – you can pick up a really swanky jumper for about the same price as a new polyester number. For new gear, I invest in items that come with guarantees of quality and\/or ones that can be repaired (ie. not thrown away). Patagonia, for example, guarantees everything they make, and will repair wear and tear damage for pretty reasonable fees.\n\n2. Tacky souvenirs\nI love a good souvenir, they remind me awesome experiences in another country. But you know what’s even better? Souvenirs with some genuine human value. Most of the ones you buy in airports are made in China or Vietnam (which is only fine if you're actually in China or Vietnam). So instead, I use my souvenir shopping to connect more with my destination. I hunt down local markets, I find things made with love and artistry by locals from local materials. They’re hardly ever plastic and hold inherent value for far longer – perhaps forever. There are probably millions of kangaroo keyrings mouldering in a landfills – my handmade treasures still, and will always, grace my home. 3. Sale items and freebies I don’t actually need\nThere’s magic in sales – they turn perfectly reasonable people into crazed buying machines. We buy 10 to get one free when we only needed one to start with. Gathering deals and freebies has become a sport – we delight in showing off our latest conquest. If you’re like me, you’ll have experienced phase two of the sales frenzy, too – stuff overwhelm. So many clothes you can’t tell what to wear, a mountain of free samples you’ll never use and shoes that were half a size too small, (but 50% off, can you believe?) Leave it there haunting you, or throw it all away – neither are good options. A simple ‘no thanks’ can be so cleansing. Avoid sales - instead get bargains cruising Trademe or opshops. Get only what you need and say no to buying more for better ‘value’. 4. Paper towels\nWhy do we use these, when a cloth is so easy to wash? Thanks marketing! When I first gave up paper towels it was to save money. Now, I’ll never go back because reducing that single-use paper is also awesome for the environment – not just fewer trees being cut down, but also all the toxic chemicals and precious water being used to make them. 17 trees and 75,708 litres (20,000 gallons) of water are polluted to make just one ton of paper towels and US households alone use 6,500,000 tons of paper towels every year. That’s a lot of dirty water that could be so easily avoided. I’ve bought some nice second hand cloth napkins to use at dinner, and ripped up an old sheet for the spills. Easy.\n\n5. Single-use foam ear plugs\nConfession time: I love drum and bass, and would often go to festivals with single-use foam earplugs. Even using them more than once, I’ve been through a bunch over the years, and probably wasted a lot of cash too. I recently invested in a pair of commercial standard earplugs. They’re washable, better for the environment and better for my ears! When you think about earplug use in a commercial setting, you’re looking at tens of thousands of earplugs thrown away every year – say 200 workers using two pairs a day, for 250 days a year. That’s 100,000 pairs of used earplugs sent to the landfill. In 5 years, that number hits 5 million (not to mention the individual plastic wrappers the plugs often come in).\n6. Store-bought snacks\nI can’t, hand-to-heart, say that I don’t buy packets of chips any more, but I try really, really hard not to. When I’m going on roadies or hikes, I hit up the bulk bins for goodies, bake brownies and roll my own bliss balls. In a pinch, there’s always the supermarket bakery and deli, or local cafe, where you can buy treats in your own reusable containers. And, huge news: Bin Inn (and probably in similar stores around the world) has bulk bin chips!\n7. A new special occasion outfit\nThe great thing about buying better clothes? You feel awesome in them for longer. Instead of buying an outfit every time someone got married or had a birthday like I used to, I now wheel out one of my classics. No more closets stuffed with clothes I’ve only worn once. Different accessories help keep things fresh, but honestly, I’m the only person who’s ever noticed I was wearing the same thing. If I’m staring down the barrel of a black tie event, I rent a dress – no waste, no massive price tag.\n8. Cheap jewellery\nRemember Kleins? Me too. That place was home to me. Butterfly clips, chokers, and feather earrings - oh my! But it was junk – all junk! Now my small collection of handmade jewellery is made ethically (no blood diamonds here!) and from good quality material. They mean something to me, so I wear my jewellery with love and I take care of it. Bonus: I avoid an extra ounce of toxin. The Ecology Center tested junk jewellery and found much of it contained high levels of unsafe chemicals including lead, chromium and nickel. Eeeek! \n9. Greeting cards\nBuzz kill here, but honestly? They’re pre-made rubbish. Make your own out of materials you have lying around and your card isn’t just eco-friendly (DIY pop up cards are really easy to make!), but will also represent more than just a panicked dash to the dairy or gas station.\n10. Plastic in the bathroom (of course)\nI can’t be in this job without looking hard at the waste my bathroom habits produces. Bathroom stuff skates the fine line between beauty wants and health necessities, so you have to be careful. Luckily there are lots of awesome companies doing some plastic-free alternatives. There’s us, of course! I don’t have a single plastic bottle in my shower, and you can also get plastic free or reusable toothbrushes, safety razors, face wipes and bandaids. Occasionally, I like to look in the bathroom rubbish bin and ask, ‘What’s in there can I could replace with a waste-free alternative?’ I’m always surprised at how many utterly obviously things are staring me in the face (I’m looking at you, dental floss).\nSo tell me, what have you stopped buying?