Happy First Birthday to The Non-Consumer Advocate!

by Katy on May 6, 2009 · 32 comments

Katy Wolk-Stanley

I launched The Non-Consumer Advocate on May 2, 2008 as a way of sharing what I thought was a unique take on frugality and simple living. 

I had been contacted by a producer from The Oprah Winfrey show to come on and talk about The Compact. (Buy nothing new.) They had recently aired an episode about Freeganism, from which they received a huge response. They wanted to do an episode about The Compact, as they felt it was much more accessible option for average Americans.

The producer conducted a number of lengthy interviews with me, and would call mid-day to ask questions like, “Do you recycle?” and “Can you send me some more interior shots of your house?”

They ended up changing the episode at the last minute, (it ended up being about families who were living wasteful lives) but at that point I had already spent a couple of weeks having numerous imaginary conversations with Ms. Winfrey. (And yes, this did make me feel a completely insane!)

I was suddenly left with a bizarrely clean house, (c’mon admit it, you’d go into hyper-cleaning mode for the Oprah crew too!) and a void in my life. I had been ready, willing and able to wax poetic about frugality and the  joys of only buying used. I even had answers to possible criticisms. Yet I suddenly had no one to share with.

So I started a little blog called The Non-Consumer Advocate. 

Writing the blog has been a wildly satisfying endeavor, as the numbers have steadily grown throughout the year. I’ve turned down an offer to be on the reality TV show Wife Swap, (uh . . . no thanks!) and enjoyed some fun publicity both locally and nationally. 

I feel the best part of writing the blog is the feedback I get from readers. From the woman who accused me of “capitalistic brainwashing,” (sorry folks, but this was hands down my favorite comment ever!) to the thousands of informative and helpful comments that arrive on my virtual doorstep. Many readers have written in expressing that they feel like I’m a friend, and I’m not embarrassed to say that the feeling is mutual. 

I have readers on every continent except Antarctica, (Perhaps there aren’t so many available consumer opportunities?) and am constantly amazed with the mixture of people who come to share an idea or two.

I may never get that chance to fly to Chicago and sit across from Oprah Winfrey, but that’s okay. I think I’ve got it pretty good as-is. 

Thank you to the thousands of people who come daily to The Non-Consumer Advocate. I love you!

Are you enjoying The Non-Consumer Advocate? Then forward it to a friend!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Alisa May 7, 2009 at 12:08 am

Happy Birthday! Wow, a chance to be on Oprah…maybe it’ll still happen someday. I know you don’t need it but I’ll be rooting for you. :’) And good idea to turn down Wife Swap…what a terrible show…although I’ve watched in more times than I care to admit.


David A. Pender, LOBC Angel Food Coordinator May 7, 2009 at 4:07 am

Congrats on making your first year. Keep sharing, you seem to have a huge following, myself included!


Marci May 7, 2009 at 5:16 am

Happy Birthday! My life has been enriched since I found your blog a few months ago. I enjoy reading it everyday. It encourages me that I am on the right path and there are others out there that share the same point of view. Hopefully the Oprah show will be in your future. You have SO much to share with and teach other people it would be such a loss if they didn’t invite you to do the show! Wishing you another successful year at the Non-Consumer Advocate! Marci in Pennsylvania.


Jinger May 7, 2009 at 5:55 am

When I read blogs such as yours, I feel like I am part of a community that values living in this new age of thrift. Thanks for your daily insights!


Tina May 7, 2009 at 6:00 am

Happy birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, just got up the nerve to comment. I just wanted to tell you that you’ve racked up some mighty impressive content in the past year. Keep up the fantastic work!


Kate May 7, 2009 at 7:00 am

I have only been reading your blog for about a month, but I love it. You may have more impact with a long running blog than you might have had with fifteen minutes of fame on Oprah. Congratualtions on your first anniversary.


Jeanine May 7, 2009 at 7:35 am

Happy Birthday TNCA!

Many more Katy…many, many more.


Lanette May 7, 2009 at 7:43 am

I’m disappointed that you won’t be on the Oprah show. Your ‘compact’ would reach such a cross-section of America. We need more societal role-models to tell us not to buy as a first impulse and to recycle when we can. Here’s hoping you make it to Chicago!


LisaPie May 7, 2009 at 8:06 am

Congratulations Katy!

You do a great job and inspire me. You are going to keep it up, aren’t you? Personally, I need fair warning before you move on to your next endeavor!

Thanks for your fresh perspective that you share with us.

I am raising my mug of tea to you and if you prefer I will raise a glass of something else this evening!


Julie May 7, 2009 at 9:42 am

Kudos on a year of great blogging. I enjoy your insights on frugality and love the feeling of community shared by those who are living a lifestyle of conscious choices where spending is concerned.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl May 7, 2009 at 10:05 am

Happy, happy birthday, dear Non-Consumer Advocate!

I like that picture of you, by the way. 😀


Judy May 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

Happy birthday and congratulations on celebrating a year of blogging! You may make it on Oprah yet!


Angela May 7, 2009 at 10:34 am

Congratulations Katy!

I am now going to frantically rewrite the questions for our upcoming interview, since you just answered many of them so well.

Blogging, Oprah- it’s all good. Sharing your experience of a non-consumer lifestyle. For me, it’s been so much more fun and rewarding than I ever could have dreamed.


Wendy May 7, 2009 at 12:54 pm

“capitalistic brainwashing,”

You brainwashed????? I think your blog is so well-liked because you are original and always invite fresh ideas to the forum.

Happy First Birthday Katy!


Sierra May 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Happy Birthday! I’m a fairly recent convert to the Non-Consumer Advocate, and it’s a frequent inspiration to me in my own efforts to live sustainably.


mindfulmama May 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Hurray for the Non-Consumer Advocate! Happiest of Birthdays! Thank you for sharing your humor, wisdom and encouragement to do what’s good for the planet each and every day!


mw May 7, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I am a little stunned that the Non-Consumer Advocate is only a year old! You are such a pro (and make it so friendly) I thought it had been going much longer than that.
How ironic that a year ago, we didn’t even know how much we would need you now.



Bev May 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Congratulations, Katie! I thought you’d been doing this much longer than a year. Love everything you do. And thanks for putting your self out there, so we don’t feel so alone in our “frugal-ness.”


Karen May 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Happy Birthday Katy! I LOVED seeing the delightful picture of you. You look so happy. This way of life certainly seems to agree with you. I hope pictures of me look that happy! You’ve done a great thing with your blog – I found you a few months ago and read your blog every night before bed. It calms me and reassures me that I’m on the right path. Keep it up!


Jennifer Kiernan May 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Congratulations on a year of blogging! I am very impressed with your dedication. Your message is important and the way you live inspirational. Keep up the great work.


Scott May 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Thanks for all your efforts.


Teresa May 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Akemashite omedeto! You are so great! I would REALLY like to see you on Oprah. And ok, even Wife Swap.


Juli May 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Congratulations, Katy! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog almost from the beginning. We started The Compact at about the same time and it was so nice to read someone else’s friendly and encouraging thoughts on the many topics it brings out. I’m so glad The Nonconsumer Advocate has grown out of your Compact experience! Keep up the excellent work.


Gwen May 7, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Dear Katy,

Happy Birthday TNCA! I discovered you through GRS just about a week ago and I’ve been reading through the archive as I get time. I agree with other commenters who think of this as a community. Just reading through previous posts has helped me to feel “reinvigorated” (and also like I’m not alone) in choosing a different path.

So thank you for your hard work, and I’m looking forward to another year.

p.s., FWIW, nice picture, pretty lady! 🙂


Bridget May 7, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Happy birthday Katy and keep up the good work!


Kate@ExerciseInFrugality May 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Congratulations on turning 1. Thanks for sharing yourself. Your blogs are on my ‘must read’ list – cuz I enjoy them so much. Thanks for providing a strong voice for non-consumerism. Bravo!


Nicki May 8, 2009 at 6:17 am

Happy Birthday!! I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and it’s always the first thing I read when I log in to check my email each morning. Thanks for helping me start my day off right!!

I, unlike some of the other posters, haven’t quite reached the level of being able to join The Compact, nor consider myself consistently frugal. I’m making babysteps, though, and your blog helps me in my journey more than you could possibly know! I’m a two steps forward, one step back kinda gal, and it’s nice to know your blog is always there to encourage me along the way.



Mariah May 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

Happy Birthday!

Having lived and worked at McMurdo, Antarctica for over 15 years I feel like you DO have Antarcticans reading and replying, even though I’m writing from Montana these days.

The thing is it’s pretty hard NOT to be frugal on “the ice.” McMurdo is by far the largest station with a maximum population of 1200 during the Austral summers. We have a “ship’s store” (terminology left over from when the Navy ran the station) that’s about the size of a two


Mariah May 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

oops, hit submit accidentally.

Anyway, the store is about the size of a two-car garage and does double duty renting dvds. Candy, chips, soap, shampoo, posters, t-shirts, cards are about all that are for sale there. Room, board and health care are provided along with the job. About the only other things you can spend money on while there for 3 to 16 months at a time would be liquor and bar food or phone cards.

You can order things and have them shipped in but since there are two people to a fairly small dorm room you can’t order too many things. We have bulletin boards for selling and swapping items like cameras, computers, skis etc.

Every floor of every dorm and most other buildings has a recycling bin area where a dozen or more categories of materials are sorted and collected. ALL the station’s waste is shipped back to the U.S. for disposal so the recycling percentage rate is very high.

BUT, we also have one of the best free”wear” programs ever. In the form of “skua” piles. Skuas are huge, aggressive gulls that migrate down there during the summer months. In each recycling area there is a skua pile where anyone can put things they no longer need or want but that aren’t trash. Clothing, shoes, books, personal care products, packaged foods sent from home, toys and games, you name it. If you need it, chances are you can find it in a skua pile.

When you first go to the ice you usually take too much stuff. With the population changing every few months and dorm rooms having to be completely cleaned out, much of that stuff goes into the skua piles. Those pink size 12 bunny slippers your mom sent for Christmas? Skua pile. And some lucky winter-over will be thrilled to get them.

If you return to the ice for subsequent work contracts you know you can travel lightly, take less stuff. Upon arrival you just go “skuaing” and find all you need to fill out your wardrobe, decorate your room and stock your bathroom. Maybe your friends knew you were coming back and have skuaed up some great gifts for you. Need a present for a birthday? Check skua.

It’s a great way to get the maximum use out of stuff. Well-loved items have been passed along
for many years via the skua pile. A really nice set of singing plastic beavers might survive 20 years or more in Antarctica, long enough to have a geographical feature named after them!


lala2074 May 8, 2009 at 8:36 am

Congratulations Katy!

I’ve just read all the comments above, you must feel very proud to see the great following you have!

Keep up the interesting posts……you make a difference.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley May 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Congratulations Katy! You are an inspiration to your big sister. Last night I had a mending night and I thought about you. Nice thoughts, of setting a good example to my kids by making things last. Even old sweat socks!


Kristin @ klingtocash May 9, 2009 at 1:50 am

Congrats on your first year! I enjoy reading your blog everyday and look forward to many more years saving together!


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