nivo total station teodolit hiperaktivite The Non-Consumer Advocate Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without

Make Frugal Hay While The Sun Shines

by Katy on April 23, 2014 · 1 comment


We native Oregonians know that you do not let an unseasonably sunny day go to waste. You mow your lawn, walk your errands and you sure as hell find any and all opportunities to soak up whatever vitamin D is raining shining down from the sky. So when Monday’s seven day forecast called for seven days of rain, I made sure to get my tuchus off the love seat and walking a nice long list of errands.

  • First off was the house two doors down, which had just put out a pretty concrete planter complete with potting soil. I heaved it onto my property and got on my way. (Holy crap, was it HEAVY!)
  • I then ran into my friend Lise, who was in front of her house. She and I enjoyed a nice chat and then made plans to get together Friday afternoon for a walk. (Yes, it’s possible to walk in the rain.)
  • I continued at a brisk pace on to my credit union, which is a convenient 1.2 miles from the house. I deposited a check from the children’s consignment shop, as well as checks my mother wrote to the boys for good grades. I focused my laser sharp gaze under the coin counting machine and was rewarded with 66¢. Yo, more free money for the found change challenge!
  • I then walked up to the library, where I picked up a novel I’d put on hold, as well as two DVD’s from the shelf. (This is 40, and Remember Me.)
  • I used the water fountain both inside and outside the library.
  • All the while, I listened to the downloaded audiobook of Dan Brown’s Inferno, which is perfectly entertaining, yet untaxing to the brain. Perfect for a spring afternoon walk.

It was the perfect afternoon. I got stuff for free, (the planter, money and library materials) arranged a social event and enjoyed some free exercise. (No gym for me!) I didn’t need to bring a water bottle, as Portland actually supplies water fountains, and I actually checked a few things off my to-do list.

Sometimes, perfection doesn’t cost a penny. And occasionally it can even happen without rain.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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April 22nd is Earth Day, each and every year. But unlike traditional holidays, (Christmas, Passover, etc.) Earth Day seems to have a different vibe each year. One year will be about everyone needs to replace their incandescent lightbulbs with fluorescent bulbs and plant a tree, and the next year will focus on drinking from reusable water bottles instead of plastic.

I like to think that April 22nd is like any other day of the year. Choosing used over new, fixing instead of replacing, spending my money with local businesses instead of corporate big box and generally keeping my life pretty simple.

But I started to think about how my obsession with choosing used over new is my passion/focus/platform. And by having a single area that guides my writing, I can spread my message and influence others to make similar choices. (This sentence makes me sound like a cult leader, which I can assure you is only 49% true.) Yes, I also try to minimize my family’s creation of garbage, plastic usage, food waste and spending, but using it up, wearing it out, making it do and doing without is always my number one priority.

But that’s okay. I don’t have to be everyone to everybody. There are others who’ve found their passions/focus/platforms and they do a damned fine job of it. They’ve found their message, and by focusing on that single area, they’re able to coherently reach out to the world earth:

I probably should write a top one hundred ways to celebrate Earth Day list with a super cute info-graphic in an attempt to go viral. but my message is too simple:

  1. Choose used over new.
  2. Mend and fix instead of replace.
  3. Find joy in the simple stuff.
  4. Never ever view a non-consumer life as a limitation. Instead choose to see the freedom that comes when you step back from The Joneses and recognize the beauty in a perfectly darned sock.

A top four list. Complete without graphics.

Happy Earth Day 2014!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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I have a problem with concept of planned obsolescence. Because unlike a traditional manufacturer, I expect everything I own to last forever. Unfortunately, the stuff I use does eventually wear out. Luckily, I have a multitude of tricks up my sleeve to squeeze every last drip, drop and morsel from every single item that enters my world.

And when I can find a new use for an old item? Be still my heart!

From the squeezing every smidge from the lowly tube of toothpaste:

Toothpaste -- coiled

Cutting it open:

Cut tube of toothpaste

And unearthing a few extra days of bonus toothpaste:

Cut tube toothpaste

To patching my favorite shorts using a worn out napkin:

Crotch hole

The napkin:

Napkin

The patch from the inside:

Inside patch

The patch from the outside. (BTW, the next time that I’m about to sew a blood red patch on the crotch of my pants, could someone please suggest a different color? Luckily, these are not the jean shorts that I wear to the opera.)

Note: This patch is not visible unless I’m sitting on the floor with my legs apart. However, I’m still going to add blue stitching to the patch.

Outside patch

To deciding that a corner of my kitchen needs a bit more color, and creating a hanging tray from one of my vintage trays:

Needs more color

Tray, before:

Tray

Hot-gluing a knotted piece of twine onto the back of the tray. Note that it’s my last glue stick, so I’m using the back of a paint brush to push the glue through the hot glue gun:

Hot glue gun

 

And now this corner of the kitchen has a little more color:

Jane Avril tray

If my possessions break or tear, I will fix or mend them. And when I want a new look, I’ll always shop first from the stuff I already own.

It’s just the non-consumer way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

I recently came in possession of an antique Goodwill mirror in dire need of a spruce up. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, so I hung it on the wall to ponder for, oh . . six months or so. (It’s important not to rush these decisions.) It looked like it had been primed and then left as-is. As is often the case, my painting decision was influenced by what kind of paint I could get for free, and it turned out that my mother was the proud owner of an almost full can of Krylon metallic “Brass Mettalic” spray paint.

I chose to think of it as gold.

Here’s what I did:

 

I took a piece of sandpaper and lightly sanded the mirror. Don’t you love the detail at the top of the mirror?

 

I took newspaper and covered all the glass up. This took awhile, and I kept thinking that there must be a better and easier way to do this.

 

I layed a drop cloth down in the back yard to spray the wooden frame. I made sure to start and end the spray before hitting the wood. This, I learned watching HGTV’s “Design Star.” (See? All the cable TV I watched last summer finally came in handy!) Needless to say, I waited until the weather was warm and dry, which perhaps explains why this Oregonian waited so long to complete her project.

 

The final product. It’s awfully shiny, but I’ve decided that I like it this way. Perhaps a little more “Disney Princess” than my normal decor style, but I love it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Black beans

It’s time for another Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

Link-O-Rama Mama

This April 19th and 20th are days when all American national parks have free admission! Click HERE to find which parks are in your area.

Looking to print some of those digital photo that live in your computer? Snapfish has a deal right now where you get 100 free 4 X 6 prints per month simply by downloading their free app! 1,200 free prints, people! Click HERE for all the details.

A woman in the Netherlands is living her life as if she she’s time traveled to the 1930′s. She’s an historical consultant, so she’s really got the details down. Click HERE to read her story.

 

Filling My Freezer

Canning and preserving can seem an intimidating task for many, but it doesn’t have to be. I have a chest freezer in my basement, and I like to keep it filled with preprepared meals and homemade convenience foods.

Just yesterday I:

Boiled up a large amount of dried black beans in my pressure cooker, which I then put into pint canning jars and froze. Not only are home cooked beans cheaper than buying canned, but the freezer is now a bit fuller, and therefor slightly less expensive to run. Bonus – with home cooked beans, I don’t have to worry about BPA from the can liners! And since the jars were frozen instead of stored on a shelf, there’s no fussy boiling or worrying about botulism; plus this is a situation where lids can be reused.

Bought 25 $1.99 packages of nice pastrami at the Grocery Outlet, which are also filling my freezer. My husband brings cold cut sandwiches to work every day, so expensive meat is a annoying chunk of our grocery bill. I recognized this brand, which is sold at Trader Joe’s and New Season’s, so I bought a couple packs to try. They were delicious, so I went back and cleared the shelf. And since this pastrami was $5 per pound rather than the $10 per pound we usually pay, this will save us a lot of money in the long run!

 

 Ethics and Frugality

Skirt hack

Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group member Heather recently share her “Non-Consumer Victory:”

“After an exhaustive search for a below-the-knee comfortable skirt, I bought the skirt on the left for my daughter at the Eddie Bauer outlet for $30. (Retails for $70). When I saw it I thought I could easily make one, so I laid out the one I bought on some art paper and made a pattern. I bought a knit fabric that had similar content as the EB skirt. I put it together and am so pleased I’m going to return the EB one and make some more for my dd and me!”

Group members congratulated her on her ingenuity, but one reader unfortunately was uncomfortable with Heather’s skirt hack and wrote:

Great job, unfortunately what you did is illegal. You can’t just buy something, reverse engineer it, then return it. Ever heard of a copyright? I’m all for figuring out how to do things yourself, but don’t just steal someone else’s new design.”

Other members came to Heather’s defense, but it brought up an interesting debate about ethics and frugality. Is is ethical to copy a store bought sort design for personal use? There are certainly many frugal tricks that I abstain from as they border on unethical, (Mackelmore’s “popping tags” refers to switching tags in thrift shops) but I likely do stuff that others would be uncomfortable with.

Do you feel comfortable with the skirt knockoff? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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What Brings *You* To Non-Consumerism?

by Katy on April 16, 2014 · 77 comments


As someone who calls herself “The Non-Consumer Advocate,” you’d think that the reasoning for my lifestyle would be straightforward and all soundbite-y. Something like this:

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

Oh wait, I do have a soundbite . . . .

But life is never as simple as a snappy and cute sentence.

My goals (in no particular order) are to save money, choose used over new, spend less money, have less stuff in my life, minimize my role in the environmental effects of global over-manufacture of stuff, make over under-appreciated goods, value my own life and privilege, make healthy choices, repair and mend whenever possible, provide well for my family and spread the word that a non-consumer life is a desirable and fulfilling life. (And probably some other reasons as well.)

Sometimes the financial aspects of non-consumerism head the list, but other categories will often jump the line.

It’s like a huge and and ever moving venn diagram with a big circle of non-consumerism in the middle.

But today I want to know why you are drawn to a non-consumer lifestyle. Are you climbing out of debt, are the environmental benefits your motivation or maybe you just like the creative challenge? Please share your story in the comments section below.

I want to know your story.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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I’m not sure what your kids do after you go to sleep, but apparently this is what my son does in the wee hours of the night. Because when I was checking Facebook this morning, this is what showed up in my son’s feed:

I’m just happy that he took the time to compost the eggshell when he was all done with whatever it was he was doing!
Eggy

For those on Madison Avenue, who try and tell us that real meals are impossible to assemble on busy evenings, I present exhibit A, a salmon, rice and salad weekday/soccer evening supper. I pre-washed and chopped the lettuce which I then stored in my salad spinner, the rice was done in my electric rice cooker, and the salmon was flash frozen, baked from its frozen state and then topped with my homemade kale pesto mixed with melted butter.

It was sure a whole lot better than anything from Banquet, Lean Cuisine or Marie Callender!

Salmon

I finished the very last of last season’s applesauce, which freed up another beautiful vintage Ball canning jar. Perfect for spring flowers or simply catching the light on a windowsill.

Blue glass jar

One of my friends has an orchard and brought a big bucket of these kiwi vines to work yesterday. “Stick them in the ground in a sunny spot and water the hell out of them” was her only instruction. And since sunny space is at a premium in my yard I though I’d try them in this huge garbage picked flowerpot. And with two male and two female vines, I’m looking forward to lots of little babies.

Kiwi vines

No Non-Consumer Photo Essay would be complete without some strange Goodwill find, so I present to you “Attorney-N-Glass,” which I assume is a leftover from the days of trendy lawyer bashing. Not funny, simply creepy.

Pickled lawyer

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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  1. Yesterday was Fred Meyer’s annual Fuchsia Day, so my neighbor and I filled our hanging baskets with new plants and free potting soil. I spent $9 for fifteen fuchsia starts, which is pretty much my annual gardening budget. And yes, I placed paper coffee filters on the bottom of each planter to cover the holes. I love it when I can figure out ways to make my stuff last one more year!
  2. My husband and younger son went to last night’s Portland Timbers soccer game, which left my older son and I at loose ends. I briefly considered taking him out to dinner, but decided instead to eat at home. I prepared spaghetti with alfredo sauce and clams, which is his favorite. (Note that I wrote “prepared” instead of “cooked” as this meal is a matter of dumping the sauce and clams from containers.) We watched a movie called “Mr. Nobody” on Netflix and it was perfect.
  3. I took advantage of the recent sunny weather to wash the bedding and dry everything on the clothesline. This included our duvet cover which was somehow covered in cat fur. (I think the cats did nothing but sleep on our bed for the full ten days we were out of town.) I also got out my sewing kit to mend a couple of small rips in the fabric, which were also compliments of the cats. I know that many people would look to replace a ripped duvet cover, but since it’s fabric it should be almost endlessly mendable.
  4. I brought my iPhone to the library’s information desk the other day and had the librarian walk me through how to put digital audio books on hold, so I could start listing them on my hand-me-down phone rather than my CD Walkman. Luckily, there was no one in line since it took un-tech-unsavvy me at least fifteen minutes to figure it all out. I’m now looking forward to being able to instantly download audiobooks. Very excited!
  5. It appears that I’m actually going to be working enough in the month of May. (Two days per week is perfect for me.) Although this may seem to not fit under the category of frugal, I’m going to include it as my life requires both frugality and income! I’ve been working less since late last summer and it’s been a real struggle. Frugality helps, but it’s only part of the big picture.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The Buyerarchy of Needs

by Katy on April 11, 2014 · 9 comments


From The Story of Stuff:

Buyerarchy of Needs

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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My House? Not So Book-Worthy

by Katy on April 10, 2014 · 13 comments


CPR baby

I love playing with my hundred year old house. Swapping out the furniture, fixing up thrifted finds and doing my  best to keep it organized in an attractive yet creative manner. Some rooms look great and other rooms . . . let’s just say they’d look cool if anyone took the time to declutter them and finish up the projects.

One of my favorite designers is HGTV’s Emily Henderson. Her aesthetic is the perfect mix of bright and funky, with enough vintage and curbside finds to please my trend-abhorent snobby self. So when she announced on her blog that she was seeking stylish houses in Portland to photograph for an upcoming book, my mind started to whirl. What would be more fun than the chance to have my house professionally styled by Emily and  then photographed?

And then I looked around the house.

The living room is crowded with soccer gear and CPR equipment, and not just a regular amount of soccer gear either as all men in my house play on teams. Plus, my husband coaches and runs a high school Futsal (indoor soccer) league. A league people, an entire freaking league! And if there’s anything creepier than boxes of limp resus-a-babies in one’s living room, I have yet to hear about it. (Horror film idea — CPR manikins come to life and exact revenge on any and all who once crunched them with chest compressions. . . but I suppose I should save that for another blog post.) I like the idea of being a decor trend setter, but I don’t think the design world is ready for CPR manikins as the new vintage globe.

Like my life, my house is cluttered and imperfect.

But I don’t really want a photo ready house that shows no signs of projects and evidence of the four people who live here. In a few short years we’ll have that empty nest and a house that stays clean and tidy. I’ll be able to stash the CPR gear in one of our empty bedrooms, and I’ll yearn for the days of mess and whirlwind activities. Days when our living room reflected the complete family who inhabited our home.

So I didn’t send any photos to Ms. Henderson. My house is what it is. Full of awesome thrifted finds, soccer gear and creepy CPR babies.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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