What Non-Consumer Activities Have You Been Up To?

by Katy on October 19, 2009 · 15 comments


My days are all very different, yet bear striking similarity to one another. Some days I work as a labor and delivery nurse, but mostly I’m at home. I make kid lunches and hustle the boys off to the school bus, (minimize driving) answer e-mails and engage in various Non-Consumer-ey activities. This may low key socializing with a friend, (going for a walk) never ending hanging of laundry, running errands or writing.

Today, for example I:

  • Made school lunches and hustled boys off to the school bus.
  • Arranged to do a talk on Choosing a Non-Consumer life for you and your family, which will be on November 18th at a local elementary school, (details to follow.)
  • Nipped over to a thrift store to find a warm coat for my 11-year-old son’s upcoming outdoor school, (found for 99¢!)
  • Picked up books and movies from the library.
  • Grocery shopped.
  • Stopped at the doctor’s office to pay a bill I had questions about. (It’s next to the Grocery Outlet store.)
  • Laundry.
  • Made dinner, which was tilapia fillets, (super cheap from the Grocery Outlet store,) roasted potatoes and a big salad.
  • Cleaned up from dinner.
  • Helped with homework. (Okay, nagged.)
  • Wrote blog.

Nothing was all that off from the ordinary, yet almost everything I did had a Non-Consumer slant. I batched my errands, found a perfectly good coat for less than the cost of a pair of socks and made a tasty, yet inexpensive meal.

Tomorrow I plan on getting some extra writing done and then hope to sneak out to go hear Timothy Egan do a reading from his new book, The Big Burn in the evening.

So . . . what Non-Consumer activities have you been up to? And is this normal for you, or are you changing your habits? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

hiptobeme October 19, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I knitted a tuque. It was small, but my son liked it for his toy and I learned ever so much!


Angela October 20, 2009 at 12:44 am

I want to see the 99cent coat!

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot. I made your black bean burgers. They were excellent (and there are more in the freezer for lunches, my favorite part) And I’ve been making a lot of bread and granola. Also cookies (a lot tastier and less expensive than store-bought). Plus made homemade mayo (takes about 5 minutes!)

We saw a free(!) play last week as part of the “Free Night of Theater” nationwide promotion.

Got Book Club book from the library.

Had costume jewelry repaired instead of tossing.

Not buying stuff!


Bellen October 20, 2009 at 5:17 am

We love tilapia but lately have only found ‘farm raised in China’ or ‘product of China’. We just don’t want to support China and are suspect of their food safety. Where does your tilapia come from?

Also want to see that coat – our thrift stores never seem to have such fabulous deals.


BarbS October 20, 2009 at 5:52 am

Frugal day for me too, just an “average” day. But I will admit that some days don’t turn out to be average. Yesterday was extremely frugal, though.

I packed lunches for the kids, and sent them off (walking — I know, so old fashioned) to school, packed my own lunch, and walked to the train station to get to work.

I like to eat breakfast at work, so I made tea in the kitchenette at work, and ate a home-made muffin I brought. And lunch, of course, I brought — leftovers from last night’s dinner. Went for a short walk at lunch-time, just to get out, but the weather was not condusive. So I walked up the stairs (to the 8th floor) when I got back, just for a bit of extra exercise.

On the way home I stopped at the library to pick up a book I had put on hold (based on your recommendation, Katy) and return some DVDs. Dinner was homemade vegetarian burritos.

All in all a frugal day. I consider myself very fortunate in that since most days are equally frugal, I can afford the occasionaly expensive day.


Butts October 20, 2009 at 7:37 am

Been making applesauce from free apples, wild mushroom soup from wild picked mushrooms, making art supply containers out of old food cans and decorating them with old fabric pieces handed down by my grandmother.


ksmedgirl October 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I am trying to find an alternative to freezer bags for storing food in the freezer. I don’t want to use plastic containers. Any suggestions?


Paul October 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Over the last 9 months, I have pretty much quit eating meat, buying local and organic food as much as possible, and riding my bike to work (6 miles each way) as much as possible. The result is I have lost 15 pounds, feel great and highly energized and put about $20 of gas into my car every 2 weeks. Wednesday is senior discount at the thrift store, so I go there tomorrow. On Sundays I cook all day and freeze everything for lunches and dinners during the week. I also grew a garden this summer and am going to greatly expand it for next year, with chickens too. And yes, I live in the ‘burbs.


Mary Bigger October 20, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Renewed books via on line and avoided fines, then returned books I had finished and found several magazines in their free recycle bin for both of us. Checked out the two local thrift stores and found a yard of heavy pillow ticking for $1 and an antique canning jar $2. For dinner picked shaggy mane mushrooms to go with the pork chops. I’ve started a bone container in the freezer for the next round of soup stock; couldn’t believe the difference it made in my last soup. Yesterday, I got pineapples for $1 each at the dollar store . I’ll be canning them in 12 oz. amounts. Still haven’t found a good source for lids. I hate paying regular retail. Love reading the daily frugal approaches, keeps me feeling like I’m not as weird as my brother makes out!


WilliamB October 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

– Brownbagged lunch, as usual, today’s was vegan: brown rice cooked in a rice cooker (electric is cheaper than gas, although which is better for the environment depends on the power source for the electric plant), black beans cooked in a pressure cooker.
– Wore hand-me-down suit, retailored for me; a very good quality suit, I hate shopping, and my tailor’s labor is worth the price: three-fer!
– Vegetarian dinner of roast mushroom/sauteed onion/mirepoix omlet.
– Read a library book.
– As usual, gave a coworker my old news magazine (not sure this is a net environmental positive: I don’t think he’d buy it so sharing doesn’t decrease overall use, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t recycle the magazine).
– As usual, the coworker gave me his sports page.

– Drove to work; usually I take public transportation, which gives me reading time *and* a couple miles’ walk each day.
– Bought snacks from the vending machine; more packaging and higher price than bringing from home; usually I’m too cheap to do this.
– Unpacked the new flatscreen TV I bought (although the TV it replaced was 9-10 years old, 2x expected lifetime).

Not Sure:
– Made yogurt. Is making yogurt from factory milk any better than buying factory yogurt? From a NonConsumer standpoint; I know homemade tastes better and is healthier.


marianne October 20, 2009 at 6:54 pm

my husband and i are in the middle of moving to a new home that is not completely updated. the last time we did that, we just bought all new fixtures. now i am on freecycle and craigslist trying to find what we need used. i am also scouring yard sales to see if they have things we can use. its a great feeling and we are saving a ton of money. =)


Klara Le Vine October 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I’m guessing your post was just about stuff that was geared towards non-consumerism – because I didn’t see anywhere that you ate!!!!! that I hope you do consume :>)


sandy October 21, 2009 at 5:57 am

Yesterday I didn’t go anywhere or spend any money, instead I spent most of my time working in the yard. I have lots of flowers, rocks, and vegetables in the front yard and very little grass. I get compliments on it all the time even though I’ve spent very little money on it. Most of the plants started as cuttings, seeds, small plants bought on sale, or plants from friends (we have a plant exchange every year).

I mowed the grass with a reel mower (these are becoming very popular in my neighborhood and I love how quiet they are) and edged with hand clippers (easier to get under plants with these and the grass doesn’t look shredded and ugly like it does from a string trimmer).

For dinner I pulled a pizza crust out of the freezer–I made bread last week and used part of the dough to make the crust. Some of the items I put on top included homemade sauce, leftover chicken, leftover tomatoes, and peppers from the garden.

In the evening I read a book I picked up at a book swap I had with my friends back in August. After I finish the pile of books I got at the swap, they’re going to my library’s resale store.


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