Non-Consumer Day — Lessons of The Sausage

by Katy on April 28, 2011 · 7 comments

I try my darndest to exemplify the frugal and environmental ideals that I write about here on The Non-Consumer Advocate. I hardly ever buy anything new, I try to drive as little as possible and I work through dozens of finicky little money saving hacks on a daily basis. So yeah, I’m using it up, wearing it out, making it do and doing without.

Take yesterday for example.

I spent longer than I care to admit scrubbing down my jelly roll pans with steel wool in order to restore them to brand shiny newness. (Okay, it took at least an hour and a half.) I listened to a library audio book on my decidedly uncool CD Walkman during this task.

I had agreed to pick my son up after school, so I planned a number of errands along the way and in the area of his high school to justify the drive across town. This meant that I:

  • Returned library books.
  • Dropped a check off at the credit union.
  • Stopped in at Trader Joe’s, where I bought three dozen rolls of 100% recycled content toilet paper and two boxes of environmentally friendly dishwasher detergent. (I stock up, as the less frequently I go to Trader Joe’s the less likely I am to make impulse purchases.) Of course, I brought my own bags.
  • Drove the couple blocks over to The Grocery Outlet, where I bought fun food. (Jam, crackers, almonds, mango chutney, etc.) I used a $3 off coupon from my Chinook Book.
  • I had around 45 minutes to kill before the high school let out, so instead of driving home, I popped into the library. I filled a canvas bag with indulgent novels and decorating books. I then sat in my car outside the school reading and not idling my car.
  • My son’s girlfriend was coming over and I wanted to serve nice sausages for dinner. I knew that New Seasons has a policy against allowing customers to bring their own containers at the meat counter, but I wanted to see if Pastaworks was the same. So I put a Pyrex container into my reuseable bag and walked over to check this out. Unfortunately, what I learned is that New Season’s sausages are $3.99/lb, while Pastaworks’ are $8/lb. Crap, too rich for my blood! I did buy a $4 chunk of focaccia bread, and was able to convince Pastaworks to put it in a paper bag instead of the plastic backed butcher paper they usually use.
  • I then had a long conversation with the very nice gentleman behind the meat counter at New Seasons, who confirmed their can’t-bring-your-own-container policy and let me work through how to buy the sausage without bringing home non-recyclable plastic backed paper. No, he could not weigh it on a piece of tissue paper and hand it over, but yes, he could put it in a plastic bag, which at least could be brought back to recycle. (Don’t worry there was no one in line behind me.)
  • After dinner, I drove my son’s girlfriend home and then took my 12-year-old son to Goodwill, which he had been begging for. (I did make him do his homework first.) He didn’t find anything to buy, but I found a four-pack of nice wooden hangers for $1.99. I have been slowly replacing all our plastic hangers with wooden ones, which is kind of ironic, because most of our clothing is super scrappy, yet hangs from elegant looking hangers.

This may all sound ridiculously more complicated than necessary, but this day was actually a fairly typical day off for me. I puttered around the house, wrote my blog, had to make a ethics vs. wallet decision, batched errands, figured out dinner and hung out with my rapidly aging kids. I did not install solar panels on my roof, tend my backyard goats or roll pennies. Just doing my thing, not pressuring myself to be perfect and crossing off the ol’ to-do list.

Non-Consumer style.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

psmflowerlady/Tammy April 28, 2011 at 5:25 am

LOVE it! That’s why I love this blog bestest – cause it’s REAL. Your day validates the notion that we ALL can make a difference with many individual choices. I don’t have to move into a cave and beat my clothes against a rock to clean them in order to make a difference. I can turn my thermostat down in winter, use cold water for laundry, batch errands, etc. and a whole lot of people, doing what Katy does or even little ol’ me does CAN make a difference. Have you noticed with all this grumping about gas prices and subsidies, etc. no one has mentioned car pooling or batching errands, or “no drive” days? It’s like no one has considered using LESS gas – duh. I was a teen during the oil crisis of the 70’s, conservation was the way to go then – we even reducted the national speed limit to conserve gas – bet that wouldn’t go over very well nowadays, huh?


Jenny April 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

We carpool to work as much as possible–the 4 of us who live in our driveway try for getting to work in 2 cars. Doesn’t work all the time, but every little bit helps. With rising gas prices, my husband and I are trying for 2 no-drive days each week. Not always possible since we live in a rural area, but we’re trying! We do all our shopping in one small town, so batching errands is more about efficient use of time than saving gas here.

Glad to hear someone else is caught in those ethics vs. wallet decisions. Seem to be a lot of them at the grocery lately.


Ciara April 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

thanks for the heads up about new season’s and meat counter containers. we don’t eat meat, but have considered eating fish again. i think we might just skip the grocery store in general and get it from the source, on our way back from day trips.


PigPennies April 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

It’s cool. I rolled almost $30 worth of pennies I found in various stashes around the house while packing up for our recent move. Then, during the 3 days I spent cleaning the house for the new tenants, I found 3 more pennies on the ground. Instead of picking them up, I sucked them up with the shop vac. Spitefully. Don’t tell anyone.

P.S. When I dropped off my beautifully rolled pennies, I was informed that the bank down the street has a coin counting machine that I could have just dumped all my change in. Touche.


Jeanine April 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Glad to hear about the meat counter NOT allowing you to hand your pyrex over the counter.

Both my husband and I work/ed in the grocery business and the Health Department will eat you (the business) alive for that.

Can the butcher not wrap it in brown paper? That’s compostable, right? We have real bouchiers, here…(like….your beef could have very well be slaughtered that morning type butchers) and that’s all they use. No cling wrap or stryofoam plates at all.


Katy April 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I don’t want to have anyone break rules for me, I’m just trying to puzzle through to a plastic-free solution.



Heather April 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Sounds very much like my days. I figure big change is made of many small steps.


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