Our most prized purchases do not define our lives — but, they can serve as effective reminders of the times during which they were made. While living through a most unusual year, we wanted to cast a wider net outside of our usual monthly top-bought product roundups. So we posed a question to our readers, coworkers, friends, and family: What is the single most useful item you've bought in 2020?
From the most basic of utility buys (like butter) to bigger non-essential investments (like a foldable electric bike) and everything in between, we've lined up the shopping stars of quarantine. Scroll on for a glimpse into the goods that helped save someone's butt (literally) while WFH, changed another's coffee habit completely, and enabled one runner to comfortably (and safely) maintain their exercise regime.
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Reusable Coffee Filter
"Without access to office coffees and coffee shops, I was going through a zillion coffee filters at home. I finally bought a reusable filter that's coated in copper, which helps keeps things sanitary, but also looks really pretty — plus, I swear my coffee tastes better now. Between that and my milk foamer, I'm pretty sure my homebrews taste way better than the $4 cups I used to buy every day. I use it every day, it's literally changed my habits, and is a small way to cut down waste and cost — that's a powerful product!" – Connie, 32
Ovalware Reusable Stainless Steel Pour-Over Coffee Filter, $, available at Amazon
"I was a month into my maternity leave when quarantine suddenly became a way of life. I bought two of these camping chairs, as I figured if we wanted to get any fresh air, we'd be spending a lot of time on our roof. Not only have we used these chairs on our rooftop to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset; we've also brought them to our local park while picnicking with friends, sat in them while eating lunch in my in-laws' driveway so that they can see their grand-daughter at a safe social distance, and even to enjoy a pizza in the parking lot of a restaurant that was open for takeout only. I think the colors are incredibly stylish, and the chairs are super light-weight, making them incredibly portable. They’re also really comfortable." – Emily, 36
Helinox Sunset Chair Multi Block, $, available at Helinox
True & Co. Body Scoop Neck Bra
"Needed a comfortable WFH bra :). This one is so incredibly comfortable and provides great support — I look forward to putting it on every day. (I ordered 3 more after the first!!)" – Amy, 42
True & Co. True Body Scoop Neck Bra, $, available at True & Co.
Automatic Milk Frother
"Since quarantine and working from home, I've been making coffee for myself at least twice a day. I needed something to heat my oat milk so it wouldn't curdle every time I poured it into my hot coffee….it was making me really sad. It's super easy to use and can make hot or COLD foam! I feel like a real (fake) barista and it makes my mornings so much happier." – Kate, 30
Miroco Stainless Steel Milk Steamer, $, available at Amazon
Acne-Clearing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
"Towards the start of lockdown, I broke out with small, stubborn pimples all over my forehead that just wouldn't go away. I read that this particular anti-dandruff shampoo was effective in clearing up fungal acne, so I gave it a try (I figured that in the worst-case scenario where it made the breakout worse, it's not like anyone was seeing much of me anyway!). Luckily, it was a best-case situation: I couldn’t believe how quickly it cleared my skin up." – Amanda, 28
nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, 7 Fl. Oz, $, available at Amazon
Self-Watering Garden Kit
"It was the beginning of quarantine and I couldn't find basil in the grocery store, so I decided to grow my own! I didn't trust my gardening skills so much so I went for an easy kit in the beginning (plus it looks pretty on my window sill). It's totally life-changing! Now I have fresh mint leaves I make tea with every morning, little pansies that look so pretty and I also use to decorate baked goods, basils to make pesto and sandwiches with, and even chamomile to brighten up my bathroom. It's a nice part of my morning routine to check how much they've grown and also to enjoy the literal fruit of my non-labor (these are self-watering so I never have to do much)" – Evelyn, 25
Modern Sprout Hydroponic Garden Tumbler Kit, $, available at Food52
Adidas Breathable Face Mask
"I'm an avid runner and have been struggling to find a face mask that's suitable to wear while exercising outdoors this summer. (I live in a densely populated city, so socially distant runs outside without a mask is not a safe bet.) I figured a sportswear brand would know what they're doing, so I went decided to try this Adidas style. Running is helps keep me sane and feeling productive — especially since I haven't been able to hit the gym over the past few months — and this mask has totally helped me maintain a sense of normalcy. It's soft, stretchy, and light on my face while still staying on securely when it's jostled around. Plus, it's pretty sweat-wicking, super easy to clean, and I can actually BREATHE while I'm wearing it!" – Sara, 33
Adidas FACE COVERS M/L 3-PACK, $, available at Adidas
"Bought it because they make people happy — it was my Wilson." – Jessica, 36
Bloomscape Philodendron Heartleaf, $, available at Bloomscape
Swivel Desk Chair
"I missed my in-office setup and wanted to buy a piece that wasn't going to stick out like a sore ergonomic thumb inside my space. This expensive-looking chair was on sale for $128 when I bought it and it's seriously saved my butt: both literally support wise and figuratively in terms of enhancing my workflow and focus while at home. It blends in so nicely with the rest of my decor that my husband didn't even realize it was a swivel desk chair." – Lane, 31
Corrigan Studio Brister Swivel Side Chair, $, available at Wayfair
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