There are so many things we’d love to leave behind in 2021 — COVID being at the top of the list. But while we can’t control the pandemic, we do have some agency over what we purchase and what we keep. As we head into the new year, we’re looking at ways to lighten the burden of stuff and reduce clutter in our lives, while being kinder to the planet and our health. Here are 21 things you should throw out or stop buying in 2022.
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Disposable tampons and pads
Thankfully, we now have more environmentally friendly (and comfortable) period product options than bulky pads and tampons that can take hundreds of years to break down in the garbage. Once you’ve used up your supply of disposable period products invest in a reusable menstrual cup or leak-proof undies for convenience, comfort and care for the earth. Try the Canadian brand Knix.
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Go through apps and subscriptions on your smart phone and tablet and delete what you’re not using. Unsubscribe from apps you forgot you’re paying for — you’ll save money and digital storage space.
See also: This is how to recover from holiday spending.
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As shocking as it is, your Starbucks take-away coffee cups can’t be recycled. The polyethylene lining would need to be removed before the paper cup can be recycled and this process is near impossible. Invest in a reusable coffee cup and keep it handy. If you forget and simply must buy a take-away beverage, minimize your waste by skipping the lid.
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Scented hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is something we don’t leave home without these days. It has one purpose only and that’s to kill bacteria, viruses and other nasty germs. It doesn’t need to smell like perfume or flowers or fresh-baked cookies. Scents are offensive to many people, especially in places of work, and synthetic fragrances are toxic too. So ditch the fragrant hand sanitizer and stick to unscented.
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Many Canadians rely on vitamin supplements hoping for better health, but John Hopkins researchers reviewed recent evidence on supplements and found that conditions such as heart disease, cognitive decline and cancer were not reduced with the use of vitamins and supplements. With the exception of folic acid supplementation for women of child-bearing age, or physician-recommended supplementation, the researchers suggest redirecting your money to a healthy diet and exercise.
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This is a hard one for so many of us. Picking up a cheap pair of jeans can be irresistible but the impact of fast fashion on the environment is detrimental. Fast fashion results in eight per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, represents up to 20 per cent of pesticide use and is responsible for one-fifth of industrial water pollution. With North Americans sending 10 million tonnes of clothing to landfill every year, we really need to be mindful about how we spend our money.
See also: Is your thrifting habit problematic?
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Save the trees and stop buying paper towel! Swedish sponge cloths are an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels. One of these nifty little things can be washed 200 times and will replace around 17 paper towel rolls. Best of all, they are biodegradable meaning you can chuck them in the compost when their time is up.
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Ill-Fitting, ineffective face masks
By now, face masks have become an unfortunate staple in our everyday lives. We know what’s safest and what fits our face the best – so get rid of superfluous masks. Keep your favourite, snug-fitting, triple-layer masks and get rid of the rest.
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This doesn’t need a long-winded explanation — just think of choking turtles and that should be enough to remember to say no to plastic straws next time you buy a drink when you’re out. Reusable stainless steel straws are a great alternative to have on hand.
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There are so many reasons to reduce the amount of imported produce you buy. The carbon footprint of transporting fruits and vegetables across the globe is huge and because produce is harvested early in order to avoid over-ripening on the journey, it tends to be lower in nutrients than produce grown locally. Check labels when you’re at the grocery store and buy local as often as possible.
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‘Just in case’ items
It’s amazing how many cardboard boxes, Amazon envelopes and other random bits and pieces we keep lying around ‘just in case.' Embrace minimalism and rid yourself of these items if you haven’t used them within a month.
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Your medicine cabinet could definitely use a clean out. Not only are expired medications less effective, excess meds pose a risk to kids and pets. If you’ve got old pills, syrups and ointments lying around, remove any stickers with identifying info, put containers in a sealable bag and bring them to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
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Scratched non-stick pots and pans
Toxic chemicals, like PFAS, can leach from scratched pots and pans, into the food you eat. Unfortunately, non-stick pots and pans need to be replaced every five years or so, or sooner if they become scratched or start peeling.
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Anything broken or chipped
It would be so great to fix all the broken things in your life instead of throwing them out, but if damaged items have been lying around for months it might be time to accept you aren’t going to get around to it. Unhealthy organisms can live in cracked cups and plates, so definitely toss these.
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Things you are holding onto out of obligation
That mug or scarf that you got as a gift years ago — but never use — can find a new home with someone else. Keeping material goods out of obligation will weigh you down, physically and emotionally.
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This is harder to clear out than even the most cluttered up junk drawer. Self-care and compassion can help clear our emotional clutter. When we let go of things from the past, it’s easier to move forward.
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Mangy beauty tools
Makeup brushes, sponges, loofahs and nail brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria, causing everything from breakouts to infections. If your tools are beyond a thorough deep cleaning, show signs of mould or are in rough shape, in the garbage they go.
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If you have kids, their things are likely taking over your life. Go through it all and get rid of what they’re not using. Too much stuff makes it hard for them to choose and as a result your kids will likely go back to the same toys over and over. Donate unloved items to a charity that will hand them to children in need.
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Do you still have photos of an ex- from years ago? Keep one or two, if you must, and toss the rest. You will likely never look at them again — there’s a reason you broke up in the first place.
Related: 10 signs your partner is a narcissist.
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Worn out runners
To avoid injury and maintain healthy support, running shoes should be replaced every 800 kilometres. So, when is that? If you feel more aches and pains after exercise, if the treads are worn or the inside of the sole doesn’t spring back when you push your finger into it, it’s time for a new pair.
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Believe it or not, paper bills are still a thing. If they still show up in your mailbox, put them through the shredder, chuck them in the recycling and switch everything over to e-bills.
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Written ByLouise Griew