The Sustainable Wardrobe Part 1: Building a Capsule

The Sustainable Wardrobe: Building a Capsule |
Words: Aimee-lee Abraham | Images: Geneva Vanderzeil

Dressing in a way that does minimal damage to the planet can be difficult. Sometimes a sustainable alternative to our favourite product doesn’t exist yet, sometimes we’re tired and time-stretched and sometimes our budget simply cannot accommodate ideal-world ethics. We can’t be perfect all the time, and that’s okay. When it comes to making ethical clothing choices, the best thing we can do is educate ourselves -- to learn about the human hands behind every hem and sleeve. The stories behind the supply chain are stitched into our seams, and being mindful of this is the first step that could just lead to industry-wide leaps.

In the first installment of our Sustainable Wardrobe series, we'll be looking at capsule dressing -- a concept which promises to break the chains of fast fashion, freeing up much-needed landfill space while also freeing our minds of the daily pressure to get dressed. Come, dear reader. We'll show you.

Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare,

Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare,

What are we dealing with?

The fashion industry is the second most water-polluting industry in the world, after agriculture. Fast fashion is built on an unsustainable process, where the bottom line and speed of the trend cycle are prioritised over all else. 

Garments have life-cycles. Raw materials are grown, cloth is manufactured, cloth is cut. Clothes are produced, packed and delivered into retailers. Customers take them home. Items grow tired and are disposed after use. When we walk into the chaotic hustle and bustle of the high street, it is so very easy to look at a shiny, finished product and forget about this cycle entirely. We are detached because the industry encourages us to be so.

By making thoughtful decisions about where we put our money, we can slowly rewrite the rule book. When we know exactly where our clothing comes from, because we cherry-picked it from a thrift shop or took the time to research what we buy, the clothing becomes multidimensional. It has a story and that story is something we can be proud of. Minimalism lends itself very naturally to environmentalism, and if you're interested in becoming a more conscious consumer, the capsule wardrobe is a most excellent place to begin. If we buy less and buy smart, we can initiate change. 

Capsule Dressing & Sustainability

Originally coined in the 1970s by style-guru Susie Faux, capsules favour timelessness, champion personal style and reject fast fashion. The wardrobe itself consists of a small, well-curated selection of essential, high-quality items. These are often interchangeable and colour co-ordinated, providing a wide range of looks from a modest selection. Though associated with hardcore minimalism and immaculate Kinfolk spreads, this isn’t about restriction and piety. It’s not about spending a small fortune on a plain white t-shirt or sterilising your space until it resembles a dentist’s waiting room.

Instead, it’s about curating a wardrobe solely around the things you love, prioritising longevity and filtering out the noise and distraction caused by fleeting trends. It’s about planning your purchases instead of impulsively haemorrhaging pennies on items destined to sit unloved and unworn in a crumpled pile on the floor. It’s knowing what you like and seeking out the best version of what you like in accordance with your budget and lifestyle needs. That way, you can truly covet and cherish the place each item has in your life. 

In many ways, it's a form of protest. Whenever we adopt a respectful and slow attitude to clothes, we are saying “No” to the planned obsolescence of the modern fashion industry and “Yes” to higher standards. The initial steps of mindfully defining (and refining) your style do involve a certain level of patience and introspection, but you'll be amazed at how rewarding the end-product is, both in a personal sense (you will feel more confident and have more free time) and in an altruistic sense (you will know you are contributing to a more sustainable and fair world). 

 Sound daunting? I promise it needn’t be so. Let's start at the beginning.

Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare,

Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare,

Step One: Go cold turkey on clothes shopping

Before you can even think about building a capsule, you need to assess your spending habits. Designate a time slot that feels achievable for you -- whether that’s a fortnight, a month or several months. Vow not to buy any new items of clothing during this period, and keep a note of patterns or feelings that arise. Do you feel lighter? Heavier? How is your sleeping pattern doing? How about your wallet? To help you on your merry way:

Avoid aimless browsing. Shopping is so often presented as a mindless pastime or hobby. Have you self-soothed by drowning your sorrows in sparkly things? Me too. We know that filling the spaces with things does not make us happy, yet we continue to do it in record numbers. Try your damnedest to resist. If you feel an insatiable spending urge coming on, see if you can think of another activity that could nourish and distract. Go to the park, curl up with a book, call someone you love or grab the nearest dog you can find and cuddle it. Hard. 

Keep a Wishlist. More often than not, we panic-purchase “just in case” an item disappears into the ether, and this worry isn’t entirely unjustified. Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Now there are fifty-two “micro seasons”; with new items hitting high-street shelves on a weekly basis. If you find yourself lusting over something, write it down. I have a wishlist saved in my iPhone notes and a Pinterest board stuffed with sartorial love letters. This provides calming reassurance that the item is still fully within reach, which allows you to reassess and come back whenever you want to. Spoiler: You probably won’t want to. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself, and work with what you already have. When you’re in the market for a life-improving quick-fix, throwing away clothing you love just because it doesn’t fit the minimalist paradigm is like buying dieting pills when you just need to eat healthily and exercise. The collection you already own has probably taken years to collate, albeit in a haphazard way. Throwing everything out is not only wasteful, but potentially self-defeating as the urge to fill the spaces left behind soon rears its head. Instead, use the clothes you already own as a window into the colours and styles you love. It’ll probably be a plethora of different things, which flies in the face of owning just 20 basics.

Track the money you save. You may find it motivating to track your spending for a month before you go cold-turkey so that you can make a direct comparison and see measurable results. I use the Spending Tracker app, which is available to download for free on iTunes.

Find like-minded supporters. We’re here for you at Buy Me Once. Drop us a comment or email to let us know how you’re getting on, and we'll provide pep-talks and digital hugs. Living well with less is the exact opposite of what our consumerist culture promotes, but you're not alone in feeling hungry for change. There is a wealth of supportive material available online. YouTube is an excellent resource rife with minimalist bloggers sharing their experiences of the simple life. Some of our favourite accounts include Lavendaire, Carrie Simple and Break The Twitch (below). Hosted by Anthony Ongaro, Break The Twitch is a channel dedicated to living intentionally and building a life in alignment with your values. As well as decluttering and shopping less, Anthony provides help with minimising distractions and building constructive daily routines that will allow you to spend less time fracturing away energy on minutiae and more time to do things you love with the people that matter. 

Step Two: Define

Find your style tribe. We're told to single out a style icon and follow their lead, but most people will find that they're drawn to a variety of eclectic looks. To ensure that you leave some room for creativity, aim to identify several style icons instead of just one. If you're unsure of who your key influencers are, start off by searching for 'Style Icons' on Pinterest and save the images you're most drawn to. It's likely the same people will crop up again and again, and you'll grow to rely on them for inspiration on dreary days.

Identify key themes. Once you've established who inspires you, cherry-pick the specific things you like about their style. Are they modern or classic? Bohemian? Feminine? Loud? Subtle? Clothes are a tool for communication, and our founder Tara Button recommends dressing not only to project who you are, but also to project who you want to be as a person in the world. 

Watch out for recurring items and themes in your current closet. We are creatures of habit. As it turns out, I like to pretend I am Audrey Hepburn on routine trips to the supermarket, which perhaps explains how I ended up owning countless turtlenecks and too many trenchcoats. Rather than beating yourself up for wasting cash on near-identical items, use this as a guiding light. By taking stock of repeat offenders you're already onto something. It's most likely that the items you reach for again and again are the ones that make your soul sing. 

Work what nature gave you. Is there a feature that people tend to compliment you on? Dressing in a way that maximises your natural strengths will never go out of fashion. 

Know yourself. You probably already have a strong sense of what suits you and makes you feel like the best possible version of yourself. Don't fight your natural instincts for the sake of a fleeting trend.

A leopard needn't change it's spots if it's comfortable and content. Embrace your wardrobe's repeat offenders as a valuable insight into your true taste. Image: Geneva Vanderzeil

A leopard needn't change it's spots if it's comfortable and content. Embrace your wardrobe's repeat offenders as a valuable insight into your true taste. Image: Geneva Vanderzeil


Reserve a full afternoon at the very least to go through your existing wardrobe. Things will need to get worse before they get better, so you need to ruthlessly take everything off hangers and chuck it all into one big pile on the floor. Then, piece by piece, pick everything back up and decide whether to a) Put it back in the cupboard, or b) Donate/recycle it. Only the items that you absolutely love should gain a privileged space. 

A thorough detox is a hugely important step on the road to a better curated wardrobe. By starting with a blank canvas, you will soon discover which areas of your closet are already well-stocked and know where there are gaps to be filled. The aim is to gain a clear overview of how your current closet compares to your new-found personal style, so you can set priorities when it’s time to shop for new pieces.

Step FOUR: Go shopping, with purpose and intent

The final step is the only one that involves (potentially) spending money. Once you have emptied everything and put back only what you need, you can assess whether there are any gaps that need filling. When I did this, I was elated to find I'd already acquired my dream wardrobe without spending a penny. It had been right under my nose all along (buried beneath all of the junk with the tags still on). If and when you decide to go shopping, do so with intent. Switch off your phone. Make the experience a real treat, and savour it. 

When your heart sings for a shiny new garment, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel good in this? Do I feel my best in this? 
  • Could I wear this in several different situations? 
  • Can I mix and match this with other items in my current wardrobe? 
  • Can I see myself wearing this in a years’ time? How about two? How about five?
Novelty is great, in moderation. Save it for the silver backpack. Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair and A Spare,

Novelty is great, in moderation. Save it for the silver backpack. Image: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair and A Spare,

We'll be exploring sustainable wardrobes and personal style in more-depth over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for new fresh content. In the meantime, do let us know: How much of an impact does the source of a garment have on your decision-making process? How do you evaluate the environmental awareness of a brand? How big is the gap between your values and actual purchasing habits? We'd love to hear from you. x

NB: All images featured in this post were shot by style blogger Geneva Vanderzeil. You can check out her flickr account here, which features a wide range of upcycling projects you can try -- injecting a new lease of life into old items. We wholeheartedly approve. 

The BuyMeOnce Kitchen: Build a Kitchen to Last a Lifetime

Kitchen Products that Last a Lifetime

We spend a healthy chunk of our lives in the kitchen. Whether we’re pouring a glass of wine after a trying day, catching up with friends and family over a dish of Grandma’s lasagna or cleaning up sticky messes from a weekend bake with the kids, the kitchen is a universal area of joy and disappointment. Despite how you’re feeling from one day to the next, your kitchenware should never be a source of disappointment; your cast iron pan should only bring you happiness when you look at it or hold it in your hand. A kitchen should be filled with long-lasting, durable products that withstand rigorous daily use and are robust enough to pass on to the next generation. Whether you are an amateur cook or professional baker, we at BuyMeOnce feel these products will serve you (and your children) for many years to come. Buy these items once and you’ll never buy them again.

Words: Amanda Saxby

For our best cooking essentials, continue reading. If baking is more your thing, click here to skip to our favourite baking essentials.



A Classic Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron is one of the toughest and best materials available: it’s durable, retains heat, boosts your iron intake and provides you with a safe non-stick surface for your cooking. Cast iron pans are also exceptionally versatile, meeting all of your sauteing, frying, baking, broiling and roasting needs. Solidteknics have engineered one of the best cast iron pans on the market. The pan is completely composed of metal -- no rivets, no synthetic non-stick, only ergonomically designed brilliance, which means there is less of a chance it will break. If I haven’t convinced you yet, you should also know that they’re a snap to clean. Solidteknics also backs all of their cast iron products with a multi-century warranty, meaning you’ll be set for your lifetime, your kid’s lifetime, and your grandkid’s lifetime!

A Set of Hardy Cooking Pots

There’s a reason your grandmother swears by this pot. Le Creuset have long been a household name for long-lasting cookware; in fact, they were an inspiration behind the entire BuyMeOnce movement. While that seems like a lot of pressure to put on one casserole dish, we assure you Le Creuset can handle it! Not only will your pot come with Le Creuset’s lifetime guarantee and the same cast iron benefits as a Solidteknics pan, it also presents beautifully on a table. Whether you’re serving up a Christmas bird or a simple Sunday stew, your trusty Le Creuset pot will see it through to the very end.





While the Creuset roasts your bird to succulent, fall-apart tenderness, you’re going to need a set of pots to cook the accompaniments to your holiday feast. All-Clad makes an excellent line of high quality stainless steel saucepots and pans that would look right at home next their cast iron pals. Designed to keep up with professional chefs, the pots in All-Clad’s Master Chef line are built to last, USA-made and feature three-ply bonded construction. Their stainless steel cookware also comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you can rest easy knowing every festivity is covered. Just be sure to set a timer!

A Sturdy Cutting Board

An elegant chopping board can spruce up the most dismal kitchen countertop. J.K. Adams is a family-owned business producing high quality kitchenware in Dorset, Vermont; they’ve been designing and carving their signature cutting boards for over 70 years. J.K. Adams ensures that their solid wood cutting boards are thick, built to last a lifetime and protected by a lifetime guarantee. Each wooden cutting board is unique and can be custom engraved or designed, making it the perfect wedding or housewarming gift.



BuyMeOnce Tip: A wooden cutting board should last a lifetime if proper care is taken with its maintenance. Never submerge a wooden cutting board in a sink of water or place it in the dishwasher; instead, wipe down a cutting board with a soapy cloth, rinse and pat dry with a clean towel. You can further preserve the longevity of a wooden board by moisturising it with a beeswax-based cutting board cream after washing. You can also make your own cream to further reduce waste!



A Dynamic Blender

Blenders are extremely useful, multifunctional kitchen tools. With a powerful blender in your arsenal, you can make anything from a simple morning berry smoothie to a summery gazpacho to a chocolate hazelnut pie (yes, I did say pie). To make sure all of those leafy greens get liquidised, BuyMeOnce recommends Blendtec. Their Total Blender popularised the YouTube “Will it Blend” campaign, which demonstrates the Total’s capacity to crush just about anything. Not only do Blendtec offer one of the toughest blenders on the market, but they’re also the only company to provide an 8-year warranty on their products. With a BPA-free unbreakable jug, an industrial strength base and a 1560 Watt motor, the Total Blender should keep humming for years to come.

Heroic Cooking Utensils

“A hero is only as good as his weapon,” says Disney. I would like to amend this to “A cook is only as good as his utensils.” While a perfectly balanced knife is a chef’s most essential tool, there are many other components that make up a kitchen toolkit. Every day I use either a slotted turner, soup ladle, solid serving spoon or slotted spoon to make a meal, and I bet you’re the same. Just like their cooking pots, All-Clad's 6-piece Kitchen Tool Set has passed the test of professional chefs. This solid and durable set is made of heavy 18/10 stainless steel polished to a mirror finish, is dishwasher safe and carries a lifetime warranty. Trust me, get a solid set of utensils and you’ll be a hero (in the kitchen) for life.



A Tough Set of Strainers

While a strainer may not seem like a kitchen essential, I assure you owning a quality set of mesh colanders will make your life much easier. How many times have you rinsed quinoa or rice and ended up losing half of it down the drain because the holes of your colander were too large? Have you burned yourself draining pasta because your strainer’s handle was too flimsy or bent? How often have you had to extract cement-like mashed potato from the open underwire of your colander? LiveFresh has set out to make these common strainer struggles a thing of the past. This set of three different-sized mesh colanders offers super fine wire mesh, heat-resistant handles, rubberized grips and sealed stainless steel rims. These colanders are so dependable and well-crafted that LiveFresh backs them with a lifetime warranty. Never flush another grain or pry another potato!

A Technologically Advanced Grater

My family has owned the same box grater for over 60 years. The 5-sided tool was presented to my grandparents on their wedding day; they then passed it down to my mother and father as part of a housewarming gift. It still possesses the same sharp edge it had in 1948. While the manufacturers of my family’s box grater have long gone out of business (boo!), I have found a suitable 21st century alternative in Cuisipro's 6-sided Box Grater. The brand’s exclusive Surface Glide Technology makes this grater one of the best on the market -- the blades are composed of evenly spaced, repeated grooves which reduce resistance and provide a longer cutting surface. Cuisipro’s technology makes the grater safer, easier to use and yields maximum gratings per stroke. Along with seven different blades for various grating needs, the unit also comes with a non-slip handle, a removable base for easy cleaning and a dry measure gauge. A generous 25-year warranty comes with the grater to make sure it lasts well past your silver anniversary.

Stylish Salt & Pepper Mills

Salt and pepper is a staple of any well-stocked kitchen and freshly ground is best. A set of sturdy, reliable salt and pepper mills will last you a lifetime of seasoning, which is why we at BuyMeOnce recommend Peugeot's Bistro Light Wood Salt and Pepper Mills. The pepper mill has a case-hardened steel mechanism -- a process by which the surface layer of metal is made considerably harder than the metal underneath. Case-hardening makes the interior grinding head and ring as tough as a ball bearing and keeps the mechanism sharp over a longer period of time. Similarly, the salt mill mechanism is made from commercial grade stainless steel to keep the salt from corroding the gear, giving it a longer life. These classic wooden grinders look timeless and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.

BuyMeOnce Tip: To keep your salt and pepper mills in tip top shape, we recommend the following:

  • Never submerge your mills in water. The mechanisms may rust and the wood will crack and neither of these issues are covered under warranty.

  • Don’t over-tighten the top nut. Doing so may cause the internal mechanism to wear out.

  • Old peppercorns go soft and moldy, and old salt can harden into a block. Always remove peppercorns or rock salt from the mills if you don’t intend to use them for a long period of time.

  • Watch the size of your rock salt and peppercorns. 6mm in diameter is the maximum size of spice a mill can handle. If you aren’t getting any pepper out of your mill, it’s likely your peppercorns are too large.

A Darling Set of Crockery

You’ve spent an hour preparing a flavourful, healthy meal for your family and now you’re ready to plate it. You take a plate from the cupboard, arrange your meal and, with an overzealous flourish, pass it to your child. He promptly drops it to the floor, shattering your plate into porcelain shards. It’s happened to all of us. From removing a bowl from the dishwasher and knocking it against the counter to chipping your favourite mug, it’s inevitable that crockery is going to break. Corelle crockery may not come with a lifetime guarantee, but they are built to last. Made from resilient and lightweight Vitrelle glass (the same material once used for television screens), these dishes are scratch- and stain-resistant and considerably more durable than their porcelain competitors. Corelle’s products are USA-made and dishwasher, refrigerator and pre-heated oven safe. This particular 18-piece set includes six each of dinner plates, bread plates and soup bowls and comes in a classic frost white.





Crusading Cutlery

Whether you’re sleepily spooning cereal into your mouth on a Monday morning, slathering a slice of whole wheat bread with mayonnaise or diving fork-first into your mom’s triple chocolate cake, you’re going to need a sturdy set of cutlery with which to do it. It’s no wonder we chose Liberty Tabletop as our top pick for table settings. Liberty flatware is formed from the highest grade 18/10 stainless steel and designed with weight and balance in mind. Furthermore, the company champions the environment; Liberty has a responsible environmental policy encompassing non-toxic chemical and oils, renewable hydroelectric power, recyclable packaging and locally-based manufacturing. American made, built to last and secured with a 25-year warranty, you can expect a Liberty Tabletop cutlery set to last well past your great-granddaughter’s 30th wedding anniversary.

Resilient Glassware

In a perfect world, dropped drinking glasses would bounce off of the ceramic tiled kitchen floor and into your hand in pristine condition. Unfortunately, reality tends to shatter these illusions. We can’t tally the number of glasses we’ve broken between us here at BuyMeOnce, but we can count how many brands we would choose to replace them. Italian glassware manufacturer Luigi Bormioli is one of the highest regarded international glassmakers. They are committed to providing glassware of the finest quality and durability; their signature SON.hyx glass ensures each of their lines are highly resistant to breakage, dishwasher safe, eco-friendly and will retain their transparency despite vigorous washing. Luigi Bormioli’s designs are simple, elegant and timeless, making them perfect for everyday use as well as for celebrations.



A Snazzy Set of Scales

A fantastic set of kitchen scales is essential for any professional or amateur baker. Baking is as much a science as it is a creative act; if you don’t measure your ingredients properly, that sponge cake you’re baking may resemble a pancake. Taylor Precision is our go-to brand for digital and mechanical kitchen scales. Established in 1851, Taylor Instruments grew into a formidable empire by supplying North America with professional precision measurement tools. As a multi-century manufacturer and supplier of kitchen scales, you can be sure Taylor Precision knows their stuff. BuyMeOnce recommends Taylor’s Stainless Steel Kitchen Scale. We chose a mechanical scale over digital because they are proven to last longer and don’t require wasteful, single-use batteries. The stainless steel scale comes with an 11-pound capacity bowl, a 5-inch diameter dial for easy reading and a 5-year guarantee.


An Award-Winning Stand Mixer

If you’re going to buy one pricey piece of kitchen equipment that will last the rest of your life, let it be a stand mixer. Stand mixers are brilliant tools. Not only are they perfect for whisking up any dessert you fancy, many mixer companies now sell a range of attachments to turn your humble friend into a ten- or twelve-function super machine. Now you can own a pasta maker, a meat grinder, a spiralizer, and a food processor without shelling out hundreds of extra pounds. But with so many different stand mixers available, it can be difficult to decide which one to get. Thankfully, BuyMeOnce has done the homework for you. The Ankarsrum Assistent Original is the only food mixer you will ever need. In terms of longevity, power, ease of use, multifunctionality and classic design, this Swedish mixer beat out the likes of KitchenAid, Kenwood and Bosch! That is some serious competition.

The Assistent first appeared on the market in 1940 amidst the chaos of the Second World War when families were reviewing expenses and preserving more homemade goods than ever before. This machine provided a durable, reliable solution to this problem, allowing families to produce and store more food during a time of crisis. Over the years, the Assistent has been voted “best in test” on various occasions, and Ankarsrum is the only food mixer company to offer a 5-year warranty on their appliance. (The other companies provide a 1-year limited guarantee.) The mixer is made from chrome and steel and boasts an 800-watt motor, which is located underneath the bowl. This unique design is what gives the Assistent the edge in power and longevity over its competitors. By using the motor to turn the bowl instead of the paddle, it allows an even distribution of power and results in a longer-lasting product. Like a KitchenAid mixer, the Assistent is available in a myriad of colours. It comes with a dough roller and hook, scraper, proofing lid, double beater, cookie and balloon whisks, a 3.5 litre plastic bowl and a 7 litre stainless steel mixing bowl. Various extra attachments are available for purchase separately.

Video: You can view the Ankarsrum Assistent’s powerful motor and superior mixing ability here.

A Brawny Set of Bowls

Mixing bowls are so versatile. You can toss a salad in them, spoon cookie dough from them, melt chocolate in them, store last night’s soup in them and bring them on a picnic. Whatever you choose to do with them, you better make sure you have a robust, durable set in your arsenal. I recommend glass bowls. Stainless steel bowls are fantastic and unbreakable, but you can’t microwave them, use them over a bain-marie nor see how high your dough has proofed at a glance. Pyrex uses tempered soda-lime glass for all of their kitchenware. This type of glass is most often used in windows and containers because it is hard and reasonably workable. It can be melted down and reformed several times, which makes it ideal for recycling. Pyrex’s Smart Essentials 8-piece Mixing Bowl Set is USA-made, durable, oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and dishwasher safe and protected by a 2-year guarantee. Mix to combine with confidence.



A Whippy Whisk

Even if you have a stand mixer, it’s always great to have a good old-fashioned wire whisk on hand. You know, for those days when you don’t want to drag out the mixer for a batch of pancakes or to whisk up some scrambled eggs for dinner. Cuisipro's Stainless Steel Balloon Whisk is our recommendation. Its flexible wires are attached at the handle with a watertight seal, making this whisk perfect for small-batch mixing, beating, whipping and whisking. Like all of their products, this sturdy 18/10 stainless steel whisk is backed by Cuisipro’s 25-year warranty and is dishwasher safe.

A Solid Wooden Spoon and Spatula

Before they had electric mixers, hand whisks and food processors, they had the wooden spoon. This simple tool has been used by professional and home bakers for centuries, and it doesn’t appear to be going out of fashion any time soon. Whether you’re checking the consistency of jam on the back of it or stirring chocolate chips into cookie dough, a wooden spoon will serve you well for years to come. Bambu makes a durable, lightweight organic bamboo spoon that is naturally stain-resistant and anti-microbial. Perfect for curries or raspberry jam!

A lightweight, flexible spatula is a welcome addition to any baker’s kit. Spatulas come in handy for a multitude of tasks. From folding fluffy egg whites into batter to scraping every last drop of caramel sauce out of the pan, this gadget makes sure you stick to your zero waste pledge! GIR's Ultimate Spatula is the best in show. Its ergonomic handle and strong blade make it easy to manipulate food and batters. This spatula is heat resistant, dishwasher safe, BPA/BPS free, comes in a wide array of colours and is backed by a lifetime guarantee. Sturdy, sustainable, no-waste tools; you can’t do any better.

The Ultimate Baking Pans

You’ve weighed your ingredients and you’ve mixed your batter. The oven is warm and you’re drooling in anticipation of eating your moist cinnamon coffee cake. But first, it needs to bake. Any serious baker knows you need a quality set of baking tins if you intend on producing well formed, perfectly baked treats. USA Pan has been creating quality cookware and bakeware for over 50 years. Their products set the standard for commercial quality bakeware and are trusted by professional bakers across the country. USA Pan constructs their pans from 65% recycled aluminized steel, which makes the pans highly durable and offers superior heat transfer and rust-resistance. The pans are also corrugated for strength and impact protection, and they’re coated with the company’s trademark Americoat Plus, a safe and eco-friendly silicone release coating. USA Pan provides a limited lifetime warranty on all of their bakeware as well -- just in case you happen to maul it eating your cake hot out of the pan.

Concerning Knives

We chose to leave knives out of this article not because we think they're inessential, but because we are aware of exactly how essential they are to a well-stocked, long-lasting kitchen. There are so many durable knives on the market -- Henckles, Global, Wusthof and Robert Welch, to name a few -- we felt the BuyMeOnce Kitchen Knife deserved its own article. We will be performing a comprehensive in-house test of some of the leading knife brands to guide you in the process of choosing the best and most sustainable kitchen knife. Keep an eye on this space!

This is the first article in a series written to help you live more consciously and produce less waste in the kitchen. We hope this detailed guide to building your own BuyMeOnce kitchen helped smooth out any questions or concerns you may have had about sustainable kitchenware. Let us know the kitchen products you’re proud of and wish to share! Share your suggestions with us on Facebook or Twitter -- we’re always looking for new BuyMeOnce products!

Throwing Away Our Throwaway Culture: 10 Simple Swaps You Can Make

10 Easy Throwaway Swaps You Can Make |

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.”
Tony Robbins

Throwing away our throwaway culture can seem too big a task to even think about, but there are some simple swaps that if we all did would make a huge dent in the amount of waste we produce. To celebrate zero waste week, we’ve identified some of the ten most common disposable items and found durable, reusable, BuyMeOnce alternatives!


Instead of plastic wrap, use bees wax cloths

This was a revelation. I didn’t expect to find something that could replace Cling film so when I came across beeswax cloths I was thrilled and bought some at once. They were inspired by traditional food preserving techniques and they make my fridge look delightfully quaint. They mold nicely round anything you wish to cover. I took mine for a road test when I went out on my first “Zero Waste Shopping Trip” for some mince. My local butcher looked at me as if I was mad, but happily scooped the pound of mince into the wrap and was very impressed.

They should last a year if you look after them. You wash them in cold water with gentle soap (Hot water makes the beeswax melt).

Bees wax sheets:

Abeego make the first-class original beeswax wrap.

bees wax sandwich bags

Made by Bees Wrap, these extra-functional bags come with twine and a button to keep your sarnie snug. 

Or make your own:

If you want to use some pretty organic cloth or old (thoroughly clean) bedding, this is a great project. Here's how to do it. 

  • Cut your cloth into a several different sizes. (Imagine what size plastic wrap you use regularly and make a few options for yourself.)
  • Finish off the edges with a sewing machine if you want them to be super durable, although the wax should stop them from fraying.
  • Lay out your cloth on a baking tray and grate some beeswax over it. ½ an ounce is about right.
  • Put in the oven at 185F, it will take around 5-10 minutes to melt. 
  • Once it’s just about melted, take it out and spread the wax with the back of a large spoon. (You can use a paintbrush but the wax may ruin it).
  • Pop it back in the oven if it doesn’t melt straight away and add more wax if there are gaps.
  • Hang it up to dry.

NB: Beeswax does smell of honey and if you don’t want it touching food particularly likely to take on a scent like cheese, use a plain piece of cloth between the item and the beeswax cloth.


Instead of sandwich bags use silicone washable bags

Ziploc style bags are super useful. I won’t deny that I have used a fair few in my time. Alternatives have been few on the ground until the last year or two but finally there seem to be a couple of brands who have taken on the challenge. I also think these might be a useful thing to take shopping with you for pieces of cheese or meat. (Mason jars are rather heavy to lug round with you if you’re trying to do Zero Waste shopping). I’d like them to come in bigger sizes.

stasher bags:

These are made with food-grade silicone and can be popped into the dishwasher and reused for years. These are for small amounts of food at the moment, although I'm hoping they soon come out with a bigger size!


Replace throwaway straws with silicone/steel

Straws might be the kind of thing that most households can live without, but some people prefer them if they’re drinking from a can and they can be useful if you or someone you care for has trouble lifting a glass. We like that these straws come with a cleaning brush so they can be kept for years and years with proper care. 

reusable smoothie straws:

These straws are particularly attractive, come in eco-friendly packaging and a moneyback guarantee if you’re not satisfied.


Instead of a takeaway Coffee cup use a thermos or keepcup

Coffee cups are death to the environment because the vast majority can’t even be recycled. Their production (25 billion in the USA every year) is hugely wasteful too when we could each just carry one reusable cup.

Pick the cup that’s right for you. If it’s important for you that it stays hot and you need to put it away in your bag, a thermos is perfect. Both Stanley and CamelBak come with a lifetime guarantee and great reviews.

Stanley mug:

A Stanley classic mug will keep you sipping for decades to come. It's a nice size, dishwasher safe and comes with a lifetime guarantee. 

Camelbak thermos:

CamelBak make this sleeker thermos which comes in several different colours (NB. Avoid the white one as it shows dirt). It keeps drinks hot for 4 hours, can be opened with one hand and comes with the "Got your Bak" lifetime guarantee.


Keep cup:

If you just want something that will give you that takeaway coffee feel without the eco-guilt, go for a keep cup which is designed especially to get the best taste out of your coffee. It’s designed to last for years, if looked after, and the whole cup is also recyclable at the end of its lifecycle. NB. You can’t chuck this kind of cup into your bag, as it’s not leak-proof.


Instead of tissues, use washable hankies

The sellers of disposable tissues have managed to get us extremely squeamish about handkerchiefs and so piles and piles of disposable tissues and the packaging are now thrown out every minute.

In fact using a handkerchief needn’t be unhygienic. An everyday handkerchief used for hay fever sneezes or wiping up messes isn’t a dangerous thing and can be added to the normal wash at the end of the day. 

Bamboo is wonderfully sustainable, strong and soft and naturally antibacterial which is why it is our hankie of choice!

Q.T. Bamboo handkerchIEfs: 

I got these myself and have been using them over the last few months. What's nice is that they get softer as you wash them. Smart and simple and very absorbent. I'm a convert.

A Quick note On hygiene - COnsider a Hanky Washbag

If you have a bad cold/flu and you’re out and about, bring a few hankies with you and pop them into a washbag/wetbag once used and they can be put straight into a hot wash when home. They are your own germs so you can’t infect yourself. To prevent infecting others, when you have a bad cold, you should wash your hands regularly anyway. Hot water and soap is still the best way to get rid of germs.

Northern TRavel Gear's Plain Black Washbag

Northern travel gear have created this simple but effective dual-compartment washbag. With a waterproof inner, the Nylon construction means you won't be having any thrills and spills. And yes - it is backed up by a no-quibble lifetime guarantee.

Bella and Bear's Cosmetics Bag

Bella and Bear offer a more fun flowery alternative to the washbag world, but their offering doesn't skimp on the quality either. Using leather backed with a layer of polyurethane, it's water resistant and super easy to clean. Definitely worth a look, this one is also guaranteed to last a lifetime and is super functional - way beyond just a hankie carrier.

(5 and a half)
Instead of disposable face wipes, use washable bamboo rounds

I got a pack of these last week and thing they're great. The flannel side is lightly exfoliating and the fleece side is really nice for removing eye-makup. These are beautifully soft and nicely made.

If you're looking for a zero waste cleanser to use them with, I found that if I took a tin into my local Lush shop they would fill it with their heavenly “Angels on bare skin” cleanser.

Handy Hint: Use reusable breastfeeding pads. These may not have been designed for the face, but they're the right size and softness for removing makeup.


Instead of a disposable Water bottle - use a BuyMeOnce bottle

It almost doesn’t need saying that water bottles are one of the biggest sources of plastic waste. Swap them for one of these bottles – they're designed to last a lifetime and just think of all the waste you’ve just prevented!


camelbak chute

Camelbak design this bottle to withstand a lifetime of extremes, but with a design so classic we think this steel piece is equally suited to an everyday working life. Whatever the excursion may be, the Chute keeps your liquids cold and true to taste, while keeping itself in perfect unbreakable shape.

Of course should something go wrong, Camelbak back all their gear up with a lifetime guarantee

kleen canteen

I love Kleen Canteen bottles because they're plastic free; they're composed of bamboo, stainless steel and food-grade silicone. They're also ruggedly made and come with a wonderful warranty, so they are a BuyMeOnce favourite. 


 Instead of a Plastic bag - use tough one built to last

Putting a 5-penny charge on plastic bags in the UK reduced their use by a whopping 85%. New York City just recently followed suit, implementing a 5 cent charge on all plastic bags beginning October 2016. This is such great news, especially for the oceans, which is where many of these bags end up. We’ve found some of the most eco-friendly, durable and practical alternatives here.


String bags are super useful as they can be crunched up and put in a bag or a pocket but then expand into a handy carry all. 


BagPodz are a great idea. The "pod" clips onto your shopping trolley and five sturdy reusable bags fit inside.

Canvas tote everyday Shopping Bag

A robust canvas tote. Great for customizing with some fabric paint, stencil your own slogan, or leave it to be plain and classic. 


Instead of Paper towels, use microfiber cloths

Paper towel is cruelly convenient, but it’s easy to get through rolls and rolls of it without even trying. I have a few of microfiber cloths, which I roll up and keep in a mason jar. It looks quite attractive and it means they are on hand for spills.

Barefoot Bamboo Re-usable towels

Someone has rather ingeniously come up with a washable version of kitchen roll. You tear off one or two sheet and rewash them up to 100 times until you tear off the next piece. Brilliant!

Birdseye Organic Washable Baby Wipes

These soft 2-ply cloths are made of organic cotton and are perfect for cleaning up messes that require a little more grip. The fabric is a cross between terry and flannel, giving it a little more oomph than a traditional paper towel or microfiber cloth.


Instead of Plastic knives and forks, a travel set

Avoiding eating with horrible flimsy plastic cutlery is perhaps enough of reason to carry either a sturdy little set or a titanium spork with you. However, the waste produced by takeaway one-use cutlery is a serious matter and so the sooner we can all get into the habit of bringing our own the better.

Light My Fire Titanium spork

I ordered one of these myself this week and was impressed that something so light felt as strong as it did (the magic of titanium). Now I keep it in my handbag in case the need arises. It comes in a sturdy drawstring pouch so it need not rattle around with your lipstick or poke you if you put it in your pocket.

Snow peak titanium set

This is one of the best reviewed travel cutlery sets. It's made of titanium which shows a wonderful commitment to durability. This also means that the set is lovely and light, so no excuses not to pack it.

(for the girls)

Instead of tampons and throwaway pads - use cups and cloth pads

Now bear with me before you go running for the hills. I suppose tampons must have been considered a strange and niche thing once, so I was a little squeamish about the whole idea of reusable sanitary products. If you feel the same, I would urge you to watch this video made by the extraordinary Bree Farmer, a 16 year old who has been talking about these products for the last three years with more maturity than I fear I will ever have.

She’s also a brilliant go to for advice on washing and using all these products. They have many health benefits as well as being eco-friendly, so I would ask you to look into them, even if you ultimately decide against them.

Reusable bamboo pads

These reusable, washable bamboo pads are sustainable, durable and have sweet patterns on them. What more could you ask for? 

Lena Cup

This cup was designed with the help of Bree. As you can imagine, it is one of the most highly rated and well designed cups out there. The reviews certainly agree!

So that's the BuyMeOnce Zero Waste list. I hope you found it helpful. If each of could do just one or two off of this list, it would make a huge difference. Showing our support for sustainable, reusable products also means more investment and innovation will happen in this sector. Money talks, so make sure yours is saying good things. :)

If you can think of any great products missing from this list, please add them in the comments and let me know how you got on with any of these swaps!

Good luck!

Big love x Tara

BuyMeOnce heads Back to School

As September approaches, it's almost time to swap summer schemes for school schedules. It can be pretty easy to let your eco-friendly habits be quashed in favour of accessibility and ease. To make the transition a little easier, BuyMeOnce has put together a list of no-fuss durable alternatives for various disposable school supplies. All of these products are guaranteed to last you throughout the entire school year and -- with luck and care -- many semesters to come.

Words: Amanda Saxby & Julie Barriere

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

JanSport make instant classics. Photo credit:

JanSport make instant classics. Photo credit:

Brilliant BACKPACKs

When it comes to school supplies, a trustworthy, durable backpack brings everything together-- literally. Kids might need a new wardrobe as they begin to stretch into misshapen teenagers, but a tough, classic or stylish backpack can have them sorted all through their journey to later life.
JanSport backpacks are flexible, durable and, thanks to guarantee, protected for as long as you’ll be around. With a fully padded back panel and comfortable, ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps, schoolwork won’t only weigh less on the mind but less on the shoulders. The JanSport Big Student model features an easy-access front utility pocket with an organiser to keep your child’s pens and pencils in place while you run to catch the bus. With 5 zippered compartments and a side water bottle pocket, you won't need advanced algebra to fit every single essential into one trustworthy bag. When finding the right bag is so easy, deciding on one of over 30 colours and designs becomes the biggest challenge.

One of North Face's brighter options. Photo credit:

One of North Face's brighter options. Photo credit:

For maximum durability at a decent budget, you can’t do much better than a North Face backpack. North Face offers pint-sized (17-19 litre) versions of their traditional adult backpacks, making them the perfect size and weight for school children. Similar to the JanSport backpack, North Face packs offer a foam padded back panel, adjustable shoulder straps and a range of pockets and zippers to fit all of your child’s books and gear. The limited choice of simple designs is arguably where the brand falls below JanSport - but these are classic colours, letting the pack remain relevant for years ahead rather than a single season. One pack will take you to school and back again, up a mountain and down again, on a plane and safely back to earth. North Face also offers a lifetime warranty.

Fit a starter, main and dessert in ECOlunchbox's Three-In-One. Photo credit:

Fit a starter, main and dessert in ECOlunchbox's Three-In-One. Photo credit:

2. Lovely LUNCH BOXes

Lunchtime is easily and obviously the most wasteful period of the normal school day. Plastic wrappers and disposable bags, polyethylene cartons and pulverised straws. Ever-overflowing cafeteria bins topped up, landfill the ultimate destination. The earth can’t just suck it up. Luckily, there are few eco-friendly gems to can help cut down on lunchtime litter.

Investing in a reusable lunchbox like the ECOlunchbox Three-In-One eliminates the need for brown paper packs and plastic bags alike. As you may have guessed, the ECOlunchbox Three-In-One features three different compartments, making storing and separating food a breeze. The bento box is composed of 100% food-grade stainless steel and employs adjustable clips to make opening the box easier for little hands. Ecolunchbox also offers replacement silicone lids and clips for sale on their website, keeping your child’s box in tip-top shape for years to come.

A Klean Kanteen in mouth-watering action. Photo credit:

A Klean Kanteen in mouth-watering action. Photo credit:

If you’re carrying something slippery and spillable, like last night’s pasta or a homemade chicken noodle soup, it’s best to store it in a totally leak-proof container. An 8oz or a 16oz vacuum seal container from Klean Kanteen will keep all of your child’s meals secure for life. The Kanteens are also shatterproof, leaving your child free to drop, knock and squash them as much as they please. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is remembering to pack a napkin!

Fisher's Space Pen is a thing of beauty, both within and without. A great gift for the near-graduate. Photo credit:

Fisher's Space Pen is a thing of beauty, both within and without. A great gift for the near-graduate. Photo credit:

3. Perfect PENs

Our top choice, and ultimate BuyMeOnce pen, is an investment piece that could serve as the perfect senior graduation gift or as a lesson in responsibility and respecting one’s possessions for an older child. It has a premium price, but the Fisher Space Pen. is the only pen they'll ever need, as it holds enough ink for the average lifetime, and is guaranteed never to break down. Plus it looks pretty gorgeous. When your child is in the middle of jotting down notes for tomorrow’s big test, the last thing you want is for their pen to run out of ink. Many kids  take in, five, maybe ten, pens to class each day. It’s best to be safe sure, but it does mean plastic pens get absentmindedly scattered throughout busy hallways. 

For a slightly less pricey alternative, consider a refillable fountain pen. Cross’ Classic Black Fountain Pen features a simple and stunning satin black and gold-plated design, an easy-to-use twist barrel and a lifetime mechanical guarantee. The only thing you have to replace is the ink cartridge. The joy of a fountain pen is that it molds to the user's writing style making it as individual as they are and (with luck) a lifelong companion. 

You’re probably going to be a little nervous handing over an expensive Space Pen or fountain pen to your twelve-year-old. So sometimes the classics are the best. Paper Mate carries an inexpensive line of biodegradable pens and pencils that promise to be as durable as their plastic counterparts. The ink can be refilled, so you shouldn’t ever get left high and dry. What’s more, even if one should break, 75% of the pen is compostable and can be buried in your garden! (The pens come with disassembly instructions.)

TIP: For kids (and big kids) prone to losing pens, if you do decide on an investment pen, it's worth attaching the lid to a ribbon/cord or extendible keychain clip. This can be attached to a pencil case or loop on the child's bag. Tara Button (BuyMeOnce CEO) attaches her pen lid to her notebook ribbon to remind her not to leave the pen behind. 

Get creative with your Moleskine notebook. Photo credit:

Get creative with your Moleskine notebook. Photo credit:


Finding the right notebook can be a challenge. Every student has different needs when it comes to the object on which they rely during exam season -- size, shape, weight, ruled or unruled, paper texture and thickness, coiled or leather-bound all become contributing factors. The quality of Moleskine’s products is hard to match. Their notebooks are made from environmentally friendly acid-free paper and are FSC-certified. Additionally, each Moleskine product is thread bound and contains a bookmark, band closure, and an interior pocket to store all of your child’s important papers. These notebooks come in assorted jacket colours, sizes, choice of ruled or unruled paper and hard or soft covers. Bonus -- they’re also lightweight, durable and extremely portable, making lugging heavy binders a thing of the past!

Clairefontaine's sustainably produced notebooks are a sure winner. Photo credit:

Clairefontaine's sustainably produced notebooks are a sure winner. Photo credit:

Clairefontaine is another company we’re passionate about. You can rest easy knowing that this manufacturer is 100% committed to waste reduction and sustainable living, because they control their own paper production! Clairefontaine’s personal pulp mill creates unbleached, acid-free paper printed with water- and vegetable-based ink. They offer several jacket styles in varying colours, prints and textures, so you can choose a different one for every class.

Posing with Po Zu. Photo credit:

Posing with Po Zu. Photo credit:


As a parent, you know that one of the most stressful elements of back-to-school is clothes shopping, specifically finding that elusive pair of perfect shoes. Ideally, this would be a pair of shoes that are stylish, comfortable, and durable. Po Zu shoes tick all of these boxes. Their soles are made from a unique blend of coconut husk and natural latex (“coir foot mattress”) to create a breathable, shock-absorbant base. Additionally, all of the materials Po Zu uses are ethically sourced and made to last; the company offers a 12 month warranty against defective materials and workmanship on all of their regular styles. For the girls, the Ello V Natural Pinatex makes a cute Toms’ knock-off, and the men’s Brisk Black White is the perfect casual sneaker.


Well that's our BuyMeOnce summer homework all done. We hope that this article has been of help to you; if it has, please feel free to share it with other parents who may find it useful. All that's left to say is good luck to all the students starting again this year, you'll be brilliant! 

5 BuyMeOnce Wedding Gifts for Every Budget

Give the happy couple something so solid it can be handed down through the generations. A gift as durable as their commitment to each other.
5 BuyMeOnce Wedding Gifts for Every Budget |


For a lifetime of merriness the newlyweds will require wine glasses that can truly hack every marriage milestone, starting immediately with those ‘honeymoon phase’ drinking sessions. These Ivento red wine glasses are made with patented Tritan Crystal and are ridiculously break resistant. Because they are so durable, you’ll find this brand used in top hotels so they’ll survive the dishwasher as well as zealous cheersing.

Write on gift tag:

Drunk in Love” (Feat. you two)



These British made brushes are the perfect gift for a couple who are about to do up their first home. Use the free personalisation service to laser etch up to four lines of cheeky best wishes into a stunning FSC beechwood handle. They’ll be cherished for much longer than a wedding card and will be part of a lifetime of home renovations together. If cared for properly, your message on the paint splattered handle will be handed down from generation to generation.  

Write on the gift tag:

Your future together is a blank canvas. Paint the town red!

3. SUMO ICE CREAM SCOOP $13.99/£12.99

Just when the newlyweds think life couldn’t be sweeter, cue the unwrapping of your incredibly thoughtful lifetime guaranteed ice cream scoop. Crafted from a single piece of solid stainless steel this scoop is virtually indestructible and is the most durable and budget-friendly wedding present we can think of - you don’t need to be a sugar daddy to buy gifts that can be handed down through the generations. Add a cherry on top by engraving the scoop with the names of the happy couple.

Write on the Gift Tag:

May your only rocky roads be made out of chocolate.


The large canopy of this Davek umbrella is perfect for shielding two people. The happy couple can let the rain pour because the Duet brolly will see them through every dark cloud that life will burst upon them. It comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee so if someone breaks it during a lovers’ tiff, Davek will repair or replace it for free. If it’s lost or stolen the recipients can redeem a replacement at up to 50% off the regular retail price, reducing the amount of ‘I can’t believe you…’ arguments by about 50% also.

Write on the Gift Tag:

When it’s raining more than ever, know that you’ll still have each other.

5. LE CREUSET SIGNATURE CASSEROLE POT (5 to 6 Servings) $320/£175.98

Gift the happy couple a Le Creuset casserole pot and you’re buying them a family heirloom that will probably appear as an item on their joint will. This top quality cast iron wear has years of craftsmanship forged in and will rustle up thousands of dinners that will leave them feeling top of the pots. Each piece comes with a famous cast-iron guarantee so your gift will be repaired or replaced if anything ever goes wrong.

Write on the gift tag:

Together you are a one-pot wonder!

Share your BuyMeOnce wedding gift ideas with us using #BMOwedding  

5 Reasons to Buy Built-To-Last, Eco-Friendly Products

Our guest writer Cody from EcoShoppr shares the reasons he's buying things once and buying things green.
5 Reasons to Buy Built-to-Last, Eco-Friendly Products |


The shopping world in 2016 may seem totally materialistic and impulse driven. But there’s good news: it’s changing. There can be enormous value in just pausing, taking a breath, and moving a small step back before you find yourself catapulted to the checkout.

The attraction of the last-reductions sale, or being drawn in to an extravagant "why-not buy", are alluring feelings that we can all experience from time to time. Frustratingly, the pang of regret felt when the item fails us is a more lingering emotion.

So, instead, before making a decision on an item you’re about to purchase, let's consider doing a little research to see what’s on the market in terms of alternatives. Products that really stand out to me are those which are built to last and at the same time, are environmentally friendly.

In this article, I’ll cover 5 reasons you should buy eco-friendly products that are built to last. Because supporting the environment and having a product that lasts decades definitely has its merits. Let’s get into it.



When deciding on your next purchase, it may be tempting to go with the item that has a cheaper price tag. It’s an enticing route, but one that can easily drive you round the bend - you’ll end up repurchasing the product again, and again (and then maybe…again). Over time, you’re going in circles and spending more and more money for a product that will fulfill the same purpose.

 This is where buying for life truly shines. If you’re able and willing to make the upfront investment, buying products for life will help save you money in the long run. Let’s look at an example.

Say you buy a cheap non-stick frying pan at a supermarket for around $10. With a cheap pan you’ll maybe get 1-2, maybe 3 years use out of it before you start noticing scratches, a loose handle, or even the metal bending.

On the other hand, take a look at a Lodge cast iron pan.

These one piece heavy-duty pans are built to last and can take a beating. They can even be used on a variety of heat sources – on a campfire, stovetop or oven to name a few.

Although more expensive than the previously mentioned alternative, these pans are virtually indestructible and will last for generations. So, for a quick comparison of what you will pay if you continue to repurchase a cheap pan, compared to buying a built-to-last pan, consider the following.

Let’s say the cheap pan lasts for 3 years before it needs to be replaced. Over a span of 20 years that means you’ll end up spending $66 on cheap pans. The current price of a Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet on Amazon is $27.99. That’s a saving of $38 - maybe not a huge sum of money, but if you continue to have this mind set with other items, the savings will continue to accumulate over time.


When you can buy an ethically produced and durable product, you’re helping the environment right this second, but also in the long term. Longer lasting products mean less waste, mean our landfills aren’t as full, mean less pollution, and mean the environment is healthier. When that durable product is eco-friendly, perhaps by using environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo, or renewable energy sources such as solar, their immediate ecological footprint is slashed.

 There are many eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items that are better for the environment. This includes items such as: 

  • Metal straws/silicone straws to replace throwaway plastic straws (Available here)
  • Reusable beeswax food storage wrap as a replacement for plastic wrapping (Available here)
  • Wool dryer balls to replace fabric softener sheets and the harsh chemicals within (Available here)

The above items are just a few examples of eco-friendly product alternatives. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for products to create a sustainable lifestyle; what else can we swap out? Let us know in the comments below! 


 It goes without saying that a better product will have a higher resale value, if ever the day comes that you want to part with your precious possession. Let’s say you are selling two pieces of furniture (two chairs for example) which you’ve each had for 5 years now. One chair has an expected lifespan of 10 years while the other’s lifespan is 40 years, and backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Which chair do you think will end up selling for more money? Likely the chair with a lifespan of 40 years. Although you likely paid more up front for the longer lasting chair, it retains its resale value better and thus you’ll likely end up making more money than the cheaper version if you ever decide to sell it.


 It’s an issue that can slip through the cracks when you’re buying in a world-conscious way – your own health. Many products we use every day, especially laundry detergents and cleaning products, can contain harsh chemicals that don’t contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Buying shoddy items instead of durable ones can also lead to stress as they fail and you're forced to replace them, putting a strain on your time and your money. 

A less well-known offender to keep an eye on is plain old paint. Many traditional varieties contain what are called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Paints with high VOC concentration aren’t good for the environment or your health and can cause side effects such as headaches, dizziness, or even more serious health effects such as cancer.

 Using natural products to replace these necessities helps ensure that you aren’t breathing in any harsh chemicals that could harm your health. Unearthed paints offers eco-friendly clay-based painting alternatives that are non-toxic and contain zero VOCs.


 And not just at the excited moment you part with your cash. Buying an eco-friendly alternative of a product and one that will last for years contributes to the reduction of overall household waste and helps make the world a greener place to live.

Many environmentally-friendly companies nowadays also commit to giving back to the environment. Some give back every time an item is purchased from their store and others give back through purchasing equipment or taking on initiatives that will help make operations greener. Buying products from companies like this is another great way to feel good about your purchases.

According to Business Insider, a study by Ogilvy Earth found that 80% of American shoppers want to make more sustainable choices, but only 20% actually follow through. So go for it, and spread the word. We have the tools to move towards a more sustainable, less wasteful lifestyle; don’t be scared to evangelize and change your community’s lives alongside your own.

 What are your reasons to "buy green" and "buy things once" or do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.  

Author Bio
Cody is green advocate, hobbyist musician, and founder of EcoShopr - an eco-friendly product curator
that gives back by planting 1 tree for every item ordered.

How to host a BuyMeOnce kid's party

How to Host a BuyMeOnce Kid's Party |

The night before my eighth birthday I barely slept. The anticipation of the party the next day was too much for little imagination to take. If kids nowadays are anything like I was, then parties are a BIG DEAL. We obviously want to make our kids' parties special, but we sometimes can go overboard with lots of money being spent on decorations, disposable crockery, wrapping and knick-knacks  that will only see the light of day for a few hours before they are binned. 

In fact, it's hard to imagine a kid's party without the several bin-bags of rubbish that you end up with once you tidy-up. So I put my head together with my amazing sister-in-law, Kirsten Button, to see what ideas we could come up with to combat the problem. Over to you Kir...


As a parent, balancing our daily lives with our values can seem like balancing two wriggling toddlers in each arm. Take eco-friendliness for example. We all want to do our bit for the environment and try to make the world a better place for our children, but against the pressures of time, everyday life and money constraints, what can really be done?

A children’s birthday party is potentially one of the most consumerist events in the annual calendar, so what steps could we take to try and create an event with less ecological impact? Here are a few ideas we’ve come up with. Implementing even a couple might relieve our parental guilt, at least on this front… momentarily…?


It’s worth taking a look at what you already own and seeing if you can borrow additional items, like extra plates, platters, tableware, cutlery, chairs etc. The mix & match look is fun and colourful, and items can be washed up and returned. If you regularly cater for large groups, you might consider purchasing an additional set of reusable plates and cutlery, which can be brought out time and again. Something in a neutral colour which wouldn’t look out of place at an adult party would be ideal. And at least you’ll never be short of plates at Christmas! If you like some colour, Biobu do a range of colourful eco-friendly durable bamboo crockery. 

A sturdy, wipe-down-able, table covering is a highly useful addition to a busy household. Ideal for kids’ crafts too, and if you buy a colour or pattern which can be adapted to many themes, it’ll last far longer than a disposable ‘Peppa Pig’ or 'Thomas the Tank Engine' equivalent! Yellow, baby blue, white and pale green are all very versatile colours. See Freckled Sage  for a great range of designs all handmade in Philadelphia. 2



Think about sending email or text invitations instead of paper ones. It can be a timesaver as you can send several at once, and if there is a cost, it often doesn’t work out much more than buying and sending paper equivalents. Companies such as  Redstamp and Paperless Post have dozens of attractive and fun designs available either free or for a minimal fee. You can also send thank you letters/cards this way – some might say less personal, but I’m all for making life a bit easier where possible!



Fabric bunting is a fantastic way to add colour & personality, plus it can be folded away for another time or hung in your child's bedroom between parties. My mum bought my kids a set with each of their names on and we look forward to hanging out ‘their’ birthday bunting year after year, regardless of the party’s themeNot on the High Street has a number of styles at a variety of price points. 

Colourful paper lanterns can take the place of balloons and can be collapsed to reuse again and again. Eco-Party-Time have a range of honeycomb lanterns made using recycled paper. Fairy lights are also great at making any space feel special and creating a warm atmosphere. You can even get solar powered ones. Try putting some in a vase on a table to make an inexpensive and pretty decoration. Great at Christmas too!

If your child has their heart set on a party based on a particular character or film, instead of throwaway paper, why not buy the duvet set and hang it as a banner/ backdrop? It will be high impact and then the duvet set can be kept and used as a longer-lasting present from the day. But this is probably only worth doing if your kid has a deep love affair with said character… otherwise you may end up with a stack of almost new Teletubbies & Minecraft bedlinen…


Have a look at what you could use to create signs etc. at home: Lego number or letter signs look great and can be a fun thing for your child to make the day before.  Or try making a number or letter sign made out of photographs of your child – a very personal decoration which can be kept for posterity!

Use a mini blackboard to write signs/display information. You can use this for other purposes year round too… mine is used to remind me of what stuff the kids need to take to school each day (Yes, yes, I know they should be responsible for their own things, but who am I kidding?!)

Get the kids involved in making decorations for their party – Ok, I know few of us jump at the chance to make more mess (!) and this might be your idea of hell. But if you feel inspired or your kids are anything like mine, this is the kind of thing they love, and you can tailor the colour to their requests/teach them a little bit about recycling along the way. These egg carton ‘bloom’ garlands are one way to create something pretty out of flotsam and jetsam!

And for the serious over achiever... 


Luckily many party games require very little equipment and again, can be created out of things you already own. Here are a few ideas:

  • Fancy dress relay – for this you need plant pots and some old clothes/dressing-up box items. Station two lines of pots spread apart outside. At the first pot, place a woolly hat, at the second a pair of wellies, at the third a coat, at the fourth a scarf etc. Line up the two teams – the first competitor for each team, runs to the first pot and dons the hat, runs onto the second pot and puts on the wellies and so on. When they reach the final pot, they turn around and come back, removing the items in reverse order. They then tag the next competitor. The first team to complete the relay wins! Age 5+
  • The Chocolate Game – an old classic, but be warned, it gets hyper competitive – one friend decided to bring this out at a dinner party! You will need a large bar of chocolate, a hat, scarf, pair of gloves, a dice and a knife and fork. Sit the children around the bar of chocolate in a circle. The children take turns to roll a dice. If someone rolls a six, they have to put on the hat, scarf and gloves and begin to try and cut a piece of chocolate off the bar with the knife and fork. Meanwhile, the dice continues to be rolled by the other children. As soon as the next person rolls a six, it is their turn to try and cut off some chocolate. It is a race against time!! Age 5+
  • Music based games such as musical chairs, musical bumps and musical statues are huge favourites and don't add any mess.
  • Create bags or t-shirts with fabric paints as one of the games. These can then be a keepsake parting gift.
  • Felt games which can be brought out at every party can become a family tradition/heirloom. If you‘re crafty, here's how you can make your own.
  • If not, see sprinkleofsparkles on Etsy for an abundance of felt ‘pin the…on the…’ style games (e.g. pin the cherry on the cupcake or pin the flag on the castle).
  • Who doesn’t love bubbles?! Make some bubble solution in a big bowl and buy some bubble wands that can be kept for another time – or ask a friend or relative to consider buying a bubble machine as a gift – this can be reused time and again and adds a magical dimension to celebrations. From babies upwards!
  • Age appropriate board games such as Twister can be kept for decades. Or create life-size chalk games/activities, particularly good if you have a summer party.
  •  Use sandpits to create search games. Mine for chocolate money, or shells, or pebbles painted gold!
  •  Sometimes, the old games really are the best. Pass the parcel is a huge favourite of course, so rather than skip it, think about using recycled paper, colourful newspaper pages, or tissue paper saved from other purchases. From 3+



These are a personal bugbear… mindless plastic tat is the bane of my life! Plus party bag items are often tiny: not great if you have a little baby crawling around the floor, hoovering up potential death traps at every turn.


  • Choose a book for each child that relates to the party theme & is appropriate for the child’s age. Give these as their parting gift – something they can return to again and again, and which can be passed on to other family members. And it often doesn’t work out as more expensive than a bag full of bits and pieces!
  • Other alternatives for a ‘one-hit wonder’ parting gift include a little bucket and spade, a plant pot with a pack of seeds, a puncture proof ball, or a photo frame containing a picture of the guest with your child.
  • A piece of birthday cake
  • A sweetshop system: display sweets in glass jars or vases and invite each child to help themselves to some on the way out. This way they only choose sweets they like, you can reuse the glass jars/vases and you can also use paper bags for the sweets.
  • If a party simply wouldn’t be a party without a ‘classic’ party bag, consider gifts which are more sustainable e.g. a wooden yo-yo or spinning top. See Stubby Pencil Studio for ideas.


Many of your kid's friends will bring presents that maybe aren't in the spirit of sustainability or trying to live a less throwaway life. And in the face of such generosity, you don’t want to appear rude. However, if you are asked for ideas for gifts, or can approach very close friends and family you may want to suggest more enduring presents:

  • You could suggest that several family members club together for a wooden train set, bicycle, climbing frame, or other items which you know will give your children (or indeed your grandchildren) pleasure for years to come. The BuyMeOnce Toy selection is small at the moment but growing all the time and it can give you an idea of the types of things that can last over time. 


  • You could also consider asking close friends and family to give the gift of time or their area of interest. This has the dual benefit of less stuff in your home and creating special one-to-one time with that child. 
  • A visit to a museum/theatre can be expensive but it needn’t be – many museums put on free exhibitions or it could be a trip to the cinema/local theatre. National museum permanent galleries are free entry but they charge for temporary exhibitions.
  • The gift to an older child of a voucher for their favourite restaurant can be fun, so that they can invite a friend or two out for dinner – Pizza Express/ASK/Zizzi’s etc.
  • Classmates can club together to give one gift too… this year, my daughter’s class parents have decided to give one gift between us. It often works out at about £10 per head, but the child gets one gift rather than a raft of things they may not want. There has been no pressure to be involved –simply an invitation to join in if you want to.



Hopefully this provides some food for thought. It is certainly not meant to be another rock with which to beat ourselves up. Lord knows parents have enough of those! But if trying a couple of these makes our lives a little easier by accumulating less stuff and saving some time, and heck, maybe even imparting a little environmental wisdom to our offspring on the way, we might give ourselves a teensy tiny pat on the back… well, until the next parenting fail anyway!

That’s it for now…

KB xx




Challenge One: The Ultimate Little Black Dress

  • This dress will last someone 60+ years of wearing it once a week
  • It should be able to be washed in a regular washing machine once a week
  • It should be fixable 
  • The shape should be able to change
  • It should be flattering
  • It should be a reasonable price
  • The processes of making it should be as sustainable as possible
  • Dresses will be judged by an independent panel of fashion, fabric and envionvionmental experts 

Fashion industry, fashion students, fabric makers, innovators, environmentalists... 


all entries should be sent in to

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Minimalism is the new black

I used to think minimalism was mainly about being one of those tidy people who would only have one thing on their coffee table. Everything in the house would be white, shiny and space age and guests would never be able to tell where the door handles were. 

What I imagine when I think of minimalism. Looks like they threw out all the books... and kept two balls made of wicker... each to their own! 

What I imagine when I think of minimalism. Looks like they threw out all the books... and kept two balls made of wicker... each to their own! 

Then I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben. The book is about her, a writer, wife and mother in New York, spending a year trying to increase her happiness by embarking on almost every happiness technique and theory going. 

In her first month she focussed on increasing her energy levels and I was interested to find that she included decluttering as one of her energy boosting strategies. Incredibly, clearing out her closet of extraneous clothes made her feel like she had MORE clothes, because everything in her wardrobe was things she loved to wear. The stress was gone from her mornings and her closet looks beautifully clutter free and organized. 

This is Gretchen talking about decluttering. 

As someone who stays in bed way past the point of doom (when I know I will be late for work) in order to avoid the "what am I going to wear" question, I saw the potential for this immediately. 

I am anything if clutter free; on my surfaces (every surface) hair products mingle with computer wires which tangle with half done knitting, looping over a pile of (I'm going to put it away!) laundry, plonked next to lint rollers, coffee mugs and (sorry mum) the only copy of my birth certificate. 

This seemed like a good strategy, to use not only on clothes but every item I have. So over the next month...

I will be stripping back to:

1) Things I really need (birth certificates, cats, panties)
2) Things I really love (my flat-cap, home-made guitar, books and ahem... knitting)

And I will only buy new things that:

1) I really need... like, really really not just, "oh but it's so pretty"
2) Are going to be relevant to me long-term
3) Are ethically sourced and ideally sustainable

In short I will be living my brand! And I will take you along for the ride. Watch this space for more updates.