At the beginning of the year, I tracked my monthly purchases because “Refuse” is the single most important part of living a zero waste life. I eventually stopped posting these, but no more! I’m bringing back #whatclairebought so you can see the good (and bad) purchases I make as a zero waster throughout the month. For some people, it will seem like I still buy a lot and compared to others I don’t buy much at all. Wherever you land on that spectrum, I hope these posts encourage you to think about your own shopping habits (and maybe you can help encourage me to shop less).

Books always end up on these lists, but I’m getting better!

September was an unusual month because I was house sitting and so I spent most of the month living out of a suitcase and driving between work, my house, the house I was watching, and boyfriend’s house (sometimes all the in one day when I realized a crucial notebook was at the wrong place). As a result of this weird month, I ended up buying some unusual stuff, I made some necessary purchases, and I bought some stuff for fun. Here’s the roundup of non-consumables I purchased in September:

  1. Air purifier
  2. Allergy medicine
  3. Glass containers from Goodwill for making kombucha
  4. Windshield wiper blades
  5. Swedish dishcloth
  6. The “Call Me By Your Name” soundtrack on vinyl
  7. Shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles
  8. Two bars of soap
  9. Two books
  10. 3 photo prints from Walgreens to decorate my office at work

Looking back on these purchases, only two of them fall into the purely “for fun” category: the record and photos for my office. I justified the photos because I spend most of my day at my desk, so it’s nice to have photos of my boyfriend and me to look at during the day. I definitely didn’t need the record, but have you heard the song “Mystery of Love”? I’m already dreaming of summer garden parties with this record playing in the background.

The Swedish dishcloth and shampoo + conditioner were both for use while house sitting. I didn’t want to use regular paper towels at the house I was watching and I figured I could use the new dishcloth at my own place and rotate out one of my older dishcloths to use exclusively in the bathroom (which I have done). The shampoo and conditioner were a result of finding myself in a bind, desperately needing to wash my hair after the health store I usually buy bulk hair care products from closed. So, I bought shampoo and conditioner at Fred Meyer. I looked for bottles made out of recycled plastic and with ethical ingredients (no palm oil for this girl). While I tried to bring as much of my stuff to the house with me as I could, keeping track of stuff between three different places got the best of me. I’ll try to make these bottles last as long as possible and offer them to friends who stay with me who may not want to use solid shampoo or bulk conditioner.

I probably fell for greenwashing, but at least the bottles were made with recycled plastic.

The windshield wiper blades, air purifier, and allergy pills all fall under the category of “healthy + safety first.” It rains a lot in Tacoma, and I wasn’t happy with the quality of the windshield wipers that came with the Prius I bought. Although car parts are wasteful, proper maintenance will keep my car running longer (so I can put off buying a new one) and the higher quality blades make me feel safer driving now that we’ve entered fall. Boyfriend’s cat continues to be a barrier between me and breathing well, particularly since he has warmed up to me and now cuddles with me on the couch. I still take allergy medicine every day, but the air purifier gives me peace of mind that I’ll still be able to breathe when we live together. I wish I had invested in one of these when we were dealing with wild fires and horrendous smoke earlier this year.

Finally, I purchased two new books this month, Broke Millennial and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. I looked for Slow Violence at the library, but it was not available and I figured a personal finance book (particularly one with room to make notes about finance goals and my current financial position) would be worth owning. Both books have been immensely interesting and worth owning. I am proud to report that my first instinct when I want something to read has been checking out the library rather than going to a bookstore, so there’s one zero waste win.

Overall, I’m happy with the purchases I made last month. I have this arbitrary goal of whittling my list to 5 things per month, but we’ll see how that pans out. Do you track what you purchase each month? What’s something you still can’t resist buying, even if you know better?