Save. Spend. Splurge.

5 Items / Services I have stopped buying and what I’ve replaced them with

What is this?

I started a sort of mini series, listing out what I am no longer buying and what I have replaced it with. A good chunk of motivation is to be more eco-friendly, but also to save money in many of the options (the two dovetail nicely many times).

I have made a few small but significant changes over the years, and these are the ones I have started to highlight:

(1) What I am no longer buying:

Plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner

What I replaced it with:

Shampoo and conditioner bars that are plastic-free, and zero-waste as much as possible. I also like these ones but the Sage scent as I find Blossom off-putting..

How to use it:

You wet the bar in the shower, then rub it gently on your scalp. Or, you can lather it up in your hands like a soap, then use your soapy fingers to massage your scalp. You can also wet the conditioner bar and rub it simply on the ends of your hair (this is what I do).

It takes a little practice but it is so easy, and gets your hair as clean and as soft as with a plastic-bottled shampoo/conditioner. The lather is incredible in these shampoo bars as well, they are VERY thick and luxurious.

Reasons why:


I used to pay $55 for shampoo (John Masters Organics) and now I buy these shampoo and conditioner bars. I believe it is cheaper as there isn’t any extra added water in shampoo and conditioner bars (they aren’t liquid but solid), and they last about the same amount of time, if not longer, as I find with liquid soaps and shampoos, we tend to use a LOT MORE than we think, when we squirt it into our hands. We only need a tiny dime-sized amount but I certainly used far more than that in the shower.


No more plastic (the only waste is the packaging which is usually cardboard box it comes in). I recycle that, but I also reuse some packaging to hold things if it is sturdy enough, such as the cardboard circular boxes you see above, which I use to store the dried out shampoo/conditioner bars.


It’s not a liquid, so I can now travel with these bars and not have an issue at all. They’re also small, and you can buy the mini versions if you wanted.

Result? This is my hair after shampoo/conditioner bars. Un-dyed (haha .. streaks of white):


(2) What I am no longer buying:

Professional salon pedicures.

What I replaced it with:

DIY at home pedicures with these nailpolish brands that are either vegan, eco-friendly and/or 10-free (meaning free of the 10 chemicals that are harmful):

  • Mineral Fusion = Minerals, and lots of colours
  • Zoya = Lots of colours, the widest range of all
  • Sally Hansen Pure = Most easily accessible in terms of finding it in stores
  • Boho Nailpolish = French brand, nice colours
  • Maison Jacynthe = Local Québec brand, a few nice colours

How to do it:

To do DIY pedicures at home, I have found these other products helpful:

Other than that, it’s just practice. It took me about 3 tries before I got used to having my feet really flat and still, my toes flat to the ground, and my elbow to the ground with my hand to gently brush on the nailpolish.

Some brands have better brushes than others, like Maison Jacynthe which makes the application so simple and easy.

Reasons why:


I used to pay $65 a session (tax and tip included). Some people have asked where I have gone to pay so much as they only pay $20 for a pedicure, and my answer is I don’t go to the cheap nail salons because I cannot trust that they treat their workers fairly and have good, clean working environments for them.

Also, the stench of gel nails, makes me very sick. I don’t like the smell, and I would not feel comfortable in such a salon. There has been too much coverage on how these workers (usually from Asia) are treated, and it is akin to modern day slavery, where almost all of their wages are taken, they are barely living off their own money, and have a debt they can never seem to repay back.

I’d rather go to a salon that pays their women a fair wage, doesn’t stink and is more environmentally-friendly than not.

The whole setup above cost about $100, plus the different nailpolishes (ranging from $7 – $15 a bottle). Even if it’s $360, that’s 3 pedicure sessions, and more than pays for itself in a year, when I’d go monthly, and pay $780 a year.


No more driving to the spa, no more having to find free parking (the bane of my cheap existence to hate paying for parking unless truly necessary, like I am in super high heels and cannot walk far).


I get to do it on my own time. I can now decide when I want to change a nail polish colour, and spread out the removal and so on over the next few days when I feel like doing so. I don’t need to make an appointment, remember to get there, park, then sit in a salon for an awkward 45 minutes while I wait for my nails to dry. I miss the actual getting out part but that’s COVID-related at this point.

(3) What I am no longer buying:

Plastic bottles of dishwashing detergent.

What I replaced it with:

Very strong (I mean REALLY strong) Savon de Marseille soap that strips all sorts of grease. They use them in French hospitals.

How to use it:

Wet your sponge or your brush (or the soap), and lather it up on the sponge/brush. Then just clean your dishes. Works great.

Reasons why:


I used to pay $4.66 or so for a bottle of dishwashing detergent that seemed to disappear in weeks, let alone a month. I now pay $10 or so for a HUGE bar of soap that lasts at least 2 months, if not 4 (depending on how much I am washing). You also use a lot less when you use a bar soap because you think before you squeeze on more detergent, and a lot of it slips off the sponge and down the drain as well, not to mention being mostly water. This soap is also exceptionally hard. It isn’t a soft soap, and doesn’t really get soft sitting in water, though I recommend you keep it dry.


No more single use plastic bottles. I can’t even reuse these. What would I put in them? I could keep one maybe, to use as a squeeze bottle for cleaning up, but the rest?!?!?!


Whenever I washed with liquid detergent (and I do this now at my parents’) I have noticed this smell. Not just a floral perfume or a fruity one that comes with these liquid detergents.

This was a kind of… bacterial after-smell that lingers on the sponge until we put the sponge in the dishwasher to hot wash the stink out and clean it. Ever since I switched to these bars of soap to wash, the smell has gone because I am constantly rubbing the soap against the sponge or brush, which cleans it while it lathers it up. It’s a win-win in my books, and I no longer have that stink at the sink.


We even use the soapy water that drains at the bottom, to pour into the Vitamix blender to really froth and clean it up when we’re done. It works out quite well.

(4) What I am no longer buying:

Professional salon haircuts.

What I replaced it with:

Cutting my own hair at home.

How to do it:

This is how I cut my own hair at home.

Great haircuts from professionals are wonderful if you have sharp blunt bobs, or very specific cuts that need constant touchups or maintenance (short hair for instance). For longer hair past your shoulders, at least in my case, and that my hair is quite easy to work with (not thin or brittle, or too curly), it is easy to do whatever to it. I don’t have difficult hair, so I lucked out in this regard and I know it.

Reasons why:


I used to spend $150 – $175 (tip and taxes in) 3-4 times a year (I don’t even colour my hair), on haircuts in the salon. Now, it’s $0.


No more appointments, I choose when I want to go, and when my ends feel crunchy, I just plan to cut my hair before my next shower. I follow my notes, make two ponytails, snip snip, then hop into the shower right away.


The biggest change / difference / replacement was that I purchased a Dyson Airwrap (my unsponsored, unbiased review here) and I curl my hair to make it look finished. It looks way better than before, even when I spent a lot on expensive haircuts, it never dried into soft beachy curls or anything like that. I did spend a pretty penny on the device but it was worth it I think.

Unstyled, my hair looks like this when it dries:

Not bad but not finished.

After styling, it looks like this:

Beautiful, beachy, bouncy curls. I think that’s the real secret to great hair, is spending time on styling it.

(5) What I am no longer buying:

One time plastic pens. Once they’re done, where do they go? In the trash.

What I replaced it with:

I am going back, old school with fountain pens, a converter and ink to refill it. These are the fountain pens I like and this is the ink I buy.

How to use it:

Fountain pens can be used with “easy” plastic cartridges you just snap in and then toss after they’re used up, but I really dislike this option even though it is less ink in general. You’re still using a fountain pen that is refillable, but there is still waste in these plastic cartridges you snap into the pen each time it runs out. It is definitely more convenient this way, but I would use it only as a backup option, like to carry one around just in case I am in a middle of a meeting and my pen runs out of ink, I could snap the plastic cartridge in. I don’t love the option though.

What I have is a fountain pen, with a refillable converter that basically holds all the ink. When it runs out, you just twist the converter down to remove the air, dip the converter into the pot of ink, and twist it to refill it with fresh ink.

Honestly, every 2 weeks, I just refill the converter before it runs out so it’s always full, based on how often I use it and how much ink disappears.

Reasons why:


No more single-use plastic pens. The only waste, is the pretty glass ink bottle that’s empty at the end. Could I reuse it? Likely not, but a huge bottle lasts quite a long time.


There is something satisfying, and has renewed a sense of interest and pleasure in writing with a fountain pen, feeling the ink just flow out effortlessly over the page. It makes me want to write MORE.

I also find it fun to refill the converter with ink, dipping it in and so on.


I can now choose the ink colour I want. This sounds so stupid but when you’re on projects with hundreds of people, I did find it handy that I could immediately see my ink colour with my notes on there because handwriting can be so difficult to decipher, and you need to ask what the heck they wrote.


  • Becka

    So I just realized that this particular pen came with its own ink cartridge. Something I didn’t really want. ( I’ve got to start reading the entire product description). Can I still purchase a converter for it? Also I bought the ink you recommended as well but in black.

  • Becka

    I just purchased the fountain pen and ink you recommended. I’m new to this and not really sure how to go about using them. How do you fill it? How when you know when it is full? Can you carry it in your purse without it leaking ink everywhere? I will look at some you tube videos of fountain pens later, but I just wanted to get your feedback since you seem comfortable using them. Thanks

  • KatieGBM

    Honestly, I’m a little surprised that someone who’s used to paying $150+ for a haircut would chose cut-your-own over just downgrading to a cheaper salon. Maybe it’s part of having ideal hair for this adventure, but I can’t imagine doing anywhere near as good with my hair as the worst cut I’ve had from a Supercuts or Great Clips, lol. I base that on what I did to a friend’s dog with a pair of kitchen scissors. She has forgiven but not forgotten!

    I just made the switch from shower gel to bar soap, and your post gave me some great ideas for my very eco-conscious sister. Maybe I’ll get her to try the shampoo bar before I roll the dice 🙂

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      To each their own. I honestly don’t see the difference. I had the same layered cut with a salon and without. I’d rather save the $150 then. Just because I am used to paying it doesn’t mean I can’t decide that the value isn’t there.

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