bare necessities

I am often asked what I use for toiletries, how I manage to stay clean, why I look so well kept. Apparently some people hear about me living without money and expect me to be down-and-out, filthy even. Personal hygiene has certainly not left my life since I started living without money. Funnily enough, I do sometimes find myself using products I would not have bought when I was using money and I probably smell a lot more sweetly than I used too!

This is what I do:

Shampoo – I tried using just water for the first few months but found my hair was still pretty greasy so started using left over hotel shampoos some friends were keeping when they had been on trips.

Soap – I asked friends to collect the little leftover bits of soap from the cakes they had at home and give them to me rather than throwing them away. Between this and again, leftover hotel soaps, I have enough soap to last years! I have even been given new soap by well-meaning people and have passed these on to others in more need than myself.

Toothpaste – collected ‘dead’ toothpaste tubes from friends from which I can still squeeze the last dregs. I use the smallest amount of toothpaste anyway so these have latest for ages.

Toilet paper – collected serviettes from a friend’s café – the ones that had a bit of spilled coffee on them but were basically clean and not fit for the rubbish. My friend then decided this was an excellent idea and started keeping them for herself and her daughter to use so I researched options and started preparing for the eventual shift to water for cleansing. However I have, for the last few months, been supplied used serviettes by friends and family in some funny sort of ‘keep Jo in toilet paper’ crusade! I feel quite confident that there are other options available to me should I run out of my supply of serviettes. I have also been given a couple of rolls of actual loo roll by well-wishers over the past year (you can see one in the picture below). I try to avoid this scenario though as it goes against my ethos of not using new resources.

Bleeding – as a woman there is the monthly bleeding to consider. When I was a teenager some referred to this precious time of the month as ‘rags’. I’m assuming this is because we used to use rags before the advent of mass produced pads and tampons. So this is what I have done. I had a few old raggedy towels which I cut into strips. These are very comfortable but take a bit more planning (I’ve been caught out a couple of times and unfortunately had friends buy pads for me), and effort in washing and care to ensure they can be reused.

Bathing – I bathe regularly using a black camping solar shower (one my folks had and weren’t using) to heat water and a cloth and a bucket. I really love the feeling of bathing like this outside in the late afternoon – watching the birds and clouds go by as I wash. Sometimes it is these simple moments that bring such contentment.

Friends have gotten into the habit of putting things aside so they can check with me before throwing them out. Also there’s the face creams, deodorants, perfumes, oils and other bits and pieces, some of which I still have from my moneyed days but others that have been given and collected along the way.The only new items are some homemade skin care products given as gifts by a dear friend who is dedicated to sourcing very ethical ingredients for her range. The skin care product I rely on the most, though, is my trusty Aloe Vera plant in the garden!

I wonder if my grandmothers would be proud of me living like this or would they be horrified that I would do this when I have other options – they did it out of necessity and actual lack perhaps. I really get a lot of satisfaction from this way of being – the way of frugality and making things stretch. It teaches me appreciation both of the energy that has gone into producing these products and also of the lack of real need for most of it. I still have too much stuff! The photo here shows the amount of stuff I still have cluttering my bedside table!

the bed in the shack


10 thoughts on “bare necessities

  1. Well done Jo from the ones who supplied your HWS, where to from here, good luck in whatever path you venture upon. N&S.


  2. Hi, Jo. I’m new to your blog. I found you through a comment you made on Rob Greenfield’s blog. You are both very inspiring and I’m learning a lot from your blogs about alternatives to spending money. My husband passed away a few years ago, and as a widow, I’m living on a small income and have been searching out ways to stretch my resources, in order to share more of what I have with others. I have a question concerning serviettes (paper napkins, right?) vs actual rolls of toilet paper. Since both are paper products, why is one better than the other? I had a light bulb moment when you mentioned toothpaste. I will be way more thoughtful now as to the amount I squeeze onto my brush! Also, are their links you can share to forums, etc that might be helpful concerning simplifying.


    1. Hi there. In answer to your serviettes question, I am using ones that have already been used – the ones that are put under your cup at a cafe for example that might have a bit of coffee spilled on them but are otherwise clean. These are always thrown in the bin, so are a waste product. Does that make sense? As for the forums, you could try I haven’t found too many places that discuss living without money but lots of people who do the homesteading thing are pretty frugal. In fact, just search for frugal living and you’ll probably find lots of info. Hope that helps and welcome…..


  3. Yes, I am in contact with Liselotte. In fact, she told me she gets her toilet paper from the leftover bits on those large rolls in public toilet dispensers at the uni she goes to. Apparently the are changed over to new rolls before the old one is finished. Very wasteful, but a great resource for the likes of us! She may have written about this in one of her blogs but I haven’t read them all yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi there, I am not sure if you are in Australia or not but if you are or even possibly you may have the same sort of system with your local councils, how do you manage rates or land tax etc. We live off grid with and are reducing our expenditure (we have 4 kids) and also teach the non value of money. I teach permaculture, self sufficiency and bush lore, loved the blog and what you are trying to achieve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there. Yes, I am in the Northern Rivers, NSW. I have not had to deal with council regs as I have not done anything that needed to involve council. I lived for the first 15 months on my friend’s farm in a little shack that is just a small open room (no amenities). I cooked and cleaned in a rough ‘camp’ style set up outside – all very temporary. The agreement was to live there for a year, so I am now free-ranging for the moment. I have access to a tiny house/wagon which I hope to set up on another place soon and live there (again cooking and cleaning under the stars). I hope that helps. Thanks heaps for your support. Where are you located? Jo

      Liked by 2 people

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