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Ready meals, new clothes, fairy lights: the products you stopped buying (or wish you had) in the pandemic

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‘I no longer buy coffee-shop coffee – except beans’

I bought my own proper coffee machine during the first lockdown and it is the best £500 I ever spent. I still buy beans from local coffee shops and roasters, so I don’t feel too bad about depriving my local independents of business, and I also waste fewer disposable cups as a result. Ben Hanson, Hull

‘I’ve had to sell a few maxidresses’

I went a bit silly in lockdown and bought a few ridiculously priced dresses. Instagram ads sucked me in. These are fantasy dresses; no one I know wears big floral-print maxidresses and for the most part I look ridiculous in them. I bought them during a prolonged winter lockdown, dreaming of summer days, life without Covid and wafting around on holiday in Spain or Greece. But I am working from home, going on the odd camping weekend locally, and I live in dungarees. I couldn’t afford the dresses, either. I resold a few of them on eBay, at a loss, so I’ve learned a big financial lesson. Anonymous, Ipswich

‘I love the idea of DIY, but I get bored’

View image in fullscreen‘Total amount of paint stripped so far? Half a door frame.’ Photograph: lolostock/Alamy

In the past 18 months of repeated lockdowns and isolation, I bought a hot air gun for stripping paint off woodwork. Total amount of paint stripped so far? Half a door frame. I also bought an electric screwdriver. Total number of screws screwed in? Fewer than half a dozen. A combined nail and staple gun, plus various varnishes, wood stains, polishes, waxes and other treatments? All unused. Six cans of spray paint, two sets of screwdrivers, three sets of drill bits and a 20-metre length of multicoloured fairy lights are all still in the boxes, too. I love the idea of DIY, but I’m bad at it and get bored very quickly. The total cost of all the above was between £400 and £500, so I won’t be buying any more. Ian Russell, semi-retired accountant, Leeds

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‘My aim is to buy from secondhand and vintage stores’

The pandemic and the recent birth of my first child have given me much reason to think about the climate crisis. I’ve thought a lot about what action I can take personally to contribute to a better future. My aim is to stop spending money on new clothes – to purchase what I need only from secondhand or vintage stores. The same goes for baby toys and clothes. When a brand new item is absolutely required, I intend to purchase only from reputable sustainable companies that sell organic or chemical-free materials. Amanda, social worker, Wexford

‘I’m in no hurry to return to ready meals’

View image in fullscreen‘When I took a bite of some anaemic-looking king prawn linguine, something was missing.’ Photograph: Yola Watrucka/Alamy

I can’t see myself resorting to ready meals again. I was shielding during the pandemic, so food deliveries were the safest option, but with few delivery slots available this sometimes meant we would get fresh produce once every three or four weeks. We really had to think about which fresh items would last (onions, potatoes, peppers: yes; pineapples, mangoes, salad leaves: no.)

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I soon realised that the quick “use by” dates on many ready meals made them unsuitable and decided to make everything from scratch. From yeast-free pizzas and crab croquettes to mushroom risotto and paella, everything was made at home. Upon returning to “real-life” supermarket shopping this year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a ready meal – but when I took my first bite of some anaemic-looking king prawn and tomato linguine, something was missing. Fresh herbs, for sure, but also some care. I’m in no hurry to buy one again. Chloe, media sales manager, Bromley

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‘I won’t be visiting the hairdresser again’

View image in fullscreen‘Thanks to YouTube, I’ve also been cutting my husband’s hair.’ Photograph: Rogan Macdonald/Getty Images/Cultura RF

I have stopped spending money on haircuts. When the March lockdown started, I took out my kitchen scissors and a razor and went for it. It helps that my hair has a natural wave and is forgiving of my attempts at a messy, short bob style. I’ve progressed to highlighting my hair and I’m chuffed to bits. Comments from friends are encouraging, even if they’re just being kind. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve also been cutting my husband’s hair. Since last year, our home haircuts have saved us about £500. I won’t be visiting the hairdresser again. Jan Donaldson, volunteer worker, South Ayrshire

‘Foundation was part of my daily routine’

View image in fullscreen‘I was amazed by how nice it felt to let my skin breathe.’ Photograph: Junut/Alamy

After the past 18 months, I know I will never buy foundation makeup again. I used to wear it every day, any time I left the house. It was part of my daily routine – I’d apply it after brushing my teeth in the morning – but, one lazy day in 2020, I skipped foundation and I was amazed by how nice it felt to let my skin breathe. After a few days, I stopped seeing my natural skin colour and small imperfections as things to be covered up. I embraced them and my new natural look. Barbara, marketing representative, Glasgow

‘I’m going to cancel my streaming subscriptions’

I signed up to five streaming channels over the past year and all have been chronically underused. I’m going to cancel four of them this month, as I’ve watched more films as one-off purchases on YouTube or on cinema sites. I also ended up buying DVDs, mainly secondhand, since they were cheaper than streaming and I like reusing things. I forgot how much storage space they take up, though, so they might go to a charity shop eventually. Lucy, England

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‘I am not a bath bomb person’

View image in fullscreenElena’s bath bomb disaster. Photograph: Elena/Guardian Community

I am not a bath person, but after several months of teaching online I succumbed to the widely commercialised impulse to “treat myself”. The bath bomb I bought was sold as an “invigorating experience” and suggested indulging in the “scent of oak tree bark”. It also mentioned moss and earth. Above is a photo of what the bath looked like. I did not get in. Elena, teacher, London