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Top Ten Things To Happily Live Without

June 24th, 2011 by Alison · 8 Comments · home & garden, lifestyle, money, sustainability

Quality of life and joy generally come from what we do and who we are with, not from the things in our life. Feel free to post a comment on what thing or item you’d be just as happy without.

  1. Bottled water. Thumbs up on drinking lots of water; thumbs down on using billions of  plastic bottles to do that. Unless you live in a developing country, the quality of bottled water is on average the same as tap water. Let’s use our own bottles, or glasses, or drink from public drinking fountains like in the olden times. We save huge amounts of petroleum when we let go of bottled water . . . . also lots of spending money.
  2. Bars or bottles of body soap in the shower or bathtub — why not use the shampoo that’s already on our head and hands? The soapy foam it produces is abundant. I once stayed in a hotel that pushed soap on me as compulsively as a drug dealer. I didn’t go back.
  3. Bras. OK, I realize different bodies need different undergarments, but for this, um, daintily endowed writer, camisoles with built-in bra-shelves double as both pretty summer tops and winter undergarments. While I know many women truly need them, bras feel to me like holdovers from the Victorian era. But maybe that’s just the hippie in me talking.
  4. Foot powder to keep shoes ‘fresh’ — this is an artificial, manufactured need. It’s true shoes get smelly without some care, especially in the summer when we sweat a lot, but let’s use common sense instead of an additional purchase. I open the tongues of my running shoes every time I take them off and wave them around to get the air circulating. My shoes never smell. One could also put shoes in front of a fan that’s already running anyway to keep them fresh.
  5. Tanning beds. At least here in the Pacific Northwest, light-colored legs fly just fine. Although I have been giving in to using a tanning lotion this summer, to be honest.  Tanning lotions yield a lower incidence of skin cancer than the ding-dang tanning salons, which I have read actually outnumber Starbucks in the U.S. And think of the money saved between the two options.
  6. Toilet cleaning products. - I scrub my toilets with a brush without any cleaner, specially designed or otherwise. I spend about 30 seconds twice a week on each toilet – and they’re perfectly clean. If I needed a cleaner, any soapy thing on hand would do.
  7. Hair-styling products for men and especially boys. This may be just me, but I think natural, unaffected hair is much more attractive in males than spiked, gelled or otherwise duded-up hair. How much fun is it to touch stiff hair compared to soft hair? Carefully coiffed guys, in my experience, don’t have much free attention to give other people — their energy is going into themselves and their appearance.
  8. Special sink or tub cleaner — I simply use old towels (big ones are good) and a little water, first using some toilet paper to remove stray hairs and throw them away. My sinks and tubs are clean, at minimal expense.
  9. Excessive shoes cluttering our closets. The average U.S. woman owns 17 pairs of shoes. When I interact with a person, shoes are the last thing I ever notice. I blame the woefully misguided Sex And The City as a contributor to Western civilization’s obsession with shoes. I have 7 pairs of shoes (probably 5 pairs more then the average world citizen) and I go everywhere under the sun in them, from hiking and bicycling to weddings, church and fancy Oregon League of Conservation Voters  (OLCV) dinners.
  10. Please fill in the tenth item —  what product do you think you (or the culture in general) would be better off not consuming or manufacturing?

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Tess Giles Marshall

    Being somewhat more than “daintily endowed” I have to disagree with item 3 on grounds of comfort, but apart from that what a great list! My number 10 is television. I gave mine up about two months ago having not watched much for a while and I can honestly say I haven’t missed it for one minute. I watch films on DVD on my computer when I want to. Apart from that, the sense of freedom is immense.

    BTW, after you mentioned Julia Butterfly Hill on your comment on my blog this week, I happened upon one of her videos today, but happy chance. I mentioned it (and you) on my Wholesome Food Association post here: http://www.wholesome-food.org/2011/06/26/weekly-round-up-26-june-2011/

  • Mary

    My number 10 is paying for lawn care. My lawn mower conked out a few years ago, and I did hire someone for one summer. He did all the work himself, and was fairly cheap compared to others working in my neighborhood. It still added up to a lot of money. I bought a good lawn mower at the end of the summer and was back in business next spring. I’m one of the very few people on my block who doesn’t hire someone to cut the grass, trim, edge, fertilize, etc. It’s work I enjoy for the most part, but my sons do most of it now. I wonder how my neighbors’ children will learn how to do any of these tasks for themselves? It seems to me that they’re being taught that this is work they can’t (and shouldn’t) do for themselves.

  • Colleen

    Pre-bottled salad dressing is my #10 “can do without”. A good toss of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is just fine by me.

  • Lisa

    Store bought shampoo and creme rinse is my #10. For the past couple of years, I’ve been “poo” free and my hair is in the best condition ever. I use baking soda combined with water to create a paste. It feels odd, like you’re scrubbing your scalp with sand, but it works. Instead of creme rinse, I use a little apple cider vinegar dumped in a cup of water. Leave it in for a minute then rinse well with plain water. If your hair tends to be dry, while it’s still wet, pour about a teaspoon of olive oil into your palm and work it into your hair. When it dries, there will be no greasy film or feel….just added body and shine. * If you go “poo” free, give your body a couple of weeks to adapt to the change. After years of using chemicals, some people’s scalps tend to overproduce oil before finally settling down.

  • Katy

    Bras! I would be miserable without mine.


  • Madeline

    I feel so much better without an elastic band around my chest- I go bra- less as often as possible but in some clothes the saggy look is pitiful! REally,though ,is anyone looking that closely?? Comfort over vanity?? I try to wear my old stretchy worn out bras when I do feel the need..so they do last a log time!!

  • Alison

    OK, I’m more convinced than ever that some women cherish their bras, and some do not :)

    Mary, I’m totally with you on doing our own outdoor work. It’s good for us!

    Lisa: thanks for the homemade shampoo and creme rinse recipes. New information to me!

    Colleen, I don’t use bottled salad dressing either. Just olive oil and salt dresses my salads fine (but I’ve observed most people want vinegar with their olive oil).

  • Kd

    I totally agree with all of the above, except i’m one of those that has to wear a bra. But on the same lines as underwear I could do without panties. If i never wore a pair again i wouldn’t think twice about it.

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