Non-Consumer Mish-Mash — Huffington Post and Limits to Cheapness

by Katy on July 26, 2012 · 33 comments

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

Can’t Get Enough of “The Huff” (ington Post)

Yesterday was a big day for The Non-Consumer Advocate. And no, I’m not referring to myself in the third person, I mean this here blog-a-mabob. Why? Because I just published my first piece as a regular blogger for The Huffington Post. 

I wrote of course, about my buy-nothing-new Compact.

Needless to say, my blog got a lot of traffic yesterday. Today too, actually. And interesting offers are starting to trickle in. Photograph myself for seven days wearing only thrift store clothing for a fancy-looking British website? Sure, why not! (This will be a huge disappointment for them, as half the time I dress like I’m about to start a Jackson Pollock painting project.)

This is going to be fun.


It Turns Out I Have a Limit to My Cheapness

Even though my family hardly ever buys soda, we somehow still amass a fair number of returnable bottles and cans. That, plus the slow but steady accumulation of microbrew bottles means that I have perform the get-my-nickelsback routine every three months or so.

We always rinse out our bottles and cans so our back porch doesn’t smell like the morning after St. Patrick’s Day at Gamma-Delta-Whatever. 

Isn’t this what normal non-frat boys do?

So there I was happily feeding my nice clean bottles and cans into the machines at New Season’s Market last week when another woman came up to perform the same task. Unfortunately, her machine needed some maintenance, which took an extra two minutes for an employee to sort out. However, this was apparently two minutes too many, so she lifted her sloshy, stinky bag of old beer bottles and cans and set them into my cart.

“Here, you can have these. There’s probably like a dollar’s worth in there.”


“You want them, right?”

At this point I’m thinking “Hell, no!” But what I said was “Okay . . . thanks.” You know, because I’m polite.

I actually considered sticking my hand into this unfortunately clear bag of beer stank in order to earn a dollar. But instead, I set the bag onto the ground, and watched the woman drive away in her red convertible Saab.

I think I found the limit to my cheapness.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen | The Frugal Girl July 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

So excited for you about the HuffPo opportunity…yay Katy!


Katy July 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

Thanks, I’m excited to sit down to write my next piece. Although first I need to tackle some dirty dishes and get laundry on the the line. Luckily, I have a *great* library audio book to keep me company.



Katie July 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

This is very exciting. I’ve been following your blog for about a year now.

Have you read the comments to your article? if so, how do you feel about the negative comments? i am sure you are tough enough to handle it as everyone’s a critic. I do find it interesting what they have to say and how quick they are to say them.


Bauunny July 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Oh my gosh. Some of the comments were laugh out loud funny but some of them were downright mean. That makes me sad that people want to vent like that ( and half the time you see that they did not even read the blog carefully enough to see that their comments actually don’t make any sense). I am delighted that Katy has a new platform to present her ideas to more people. I find it so affirming to read her cheerfully intelligent blog that encourages us all to be the best non-consumers we can be.


Shannon July 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I had to push away and stop reading. This is one of the friendliest forums I visit, and I’m not used to the negative energy. And Katy, you are so darn nice and down to earth! I wish they would have actually visited this space, or even read the article, before posting.


Angela July 26, 2012 at 11:40 am

That Saab lady was nasty!! I would love to do a blog about my thrifty wardrobe – how fun would that be?! Why do you look like you are ready to paint all the time, when there are SO MANY great clothing options, you can be stylish every day with little money and just as much effort as it takes to put on painting clothes!!


Katy July 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

Dressing stylishly has just never held my interest.



Linda in Indiana July 26, 2012 at 11:46 am

Congrats, Katy! Very excited for you and your new venture. Enjoy and my wishes for much success. And the people that don’t get it…well, it is their loss. You have definitely been an inspiration for me.


Candy Johnstone July 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I woulda done it! I don’t have 2 nickels to rub together right now, so as long as baby wasn’t with me, I’d have taken the the Saab drivers money.


Laura July 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm

LOL – I would have returned the bottles, but I always bring along a pair of gloves (reusable) when I recycle bottles and cans.

Congrats on getting picked up by the HuffPost!


Lili@creativesavv July 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm

That is absolutely wonderful! Best wishes for great things to come!
About those awful beer bottles, I’d be seriously tempted. I might go grab a plastic bag out of my car to use as a glove, though.


Angel July 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I totally would have taken her money! 🙂 We have hand washing/sanitizing areas near our bottle return, so I would have gotten gross for it. But I understand those that don’t because you sometimes do carry the “night after” smell with you through the store.


Kathy M July 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Congrats to you. Have fun with all that comes your way.


Krystal July 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Congrats on the Huff Post work, Katy!


Anna July 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Lol! The rank bag-o-stank brought back memories of my childhood beach vacations in which we camped in a National Park near the beach and had to ride our bikes to get to the actual beach. My parents made a “game” for us kids to see who could pick up the most cans along the way! I guess they figured the ocean would wash off the stank that we got on us. Hilariously, I thought ALL kids did this on vacation! Ha! But we still have the BEST memories from those vacations. Later, after we were in high school and the family finances improved, my parents bought a posh condo near the same area. They sold it when it never lived up to the old camping trips. They just bought another camper instead. 🙂


Erica @ Cult of Kale July 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

When I was a college student in NY I had similar things happen to me as I brought my cans and bottles back to grocery store. Some people would take me back to their cars to hand over their bags of cans as if it was a great and wonderful things they were doing.

However, we were really poor so we always turned them in anyway.


Shannon July 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Congrats! You are a great writer and the HuffPo crowd will live you as much as we do!!!!


AnnW July 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Ha! I am laughing so hard! Your article in the Huffington Post was great. My husband probably has enough clothes to last until retirement because he buys the kind that never wear out. Well, sometimes the collars wear, but you can get them turned. Brooks Brothers used to turn them for free.Did you know that LLBean has a lifetime guarantee on its products? If it wears out, they replace it. I never picked up money on the ground when I lived in New York City, because I thought someone would fall over me, or knock me down and take my purse. I would like to Dumpster Dive, but I wouldn’t use a Diva cup. I get faint seeing really bad injuries, but you deliver babies. I would recycle those yucky beer bottles and throw the money in the Food Bank Box, but you wouldn’t touch them. Funny. Ann


Carla July 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

congrats on the gig!

and I totally would have taken the gross bottles, cause hey, a dollar is a dollar! but I’m cheap/frugal/opportunistic that way. And I’m ok with that.


Auntie Karen July 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Passing on those stanky bottles isn’t much different than passing on something you find at a thrift store, but don’t really need. If this was a time in your life when you absolutely needed every nickle and dime, you might have recycled them. But you left what you didn’t need and I am sure someone came by who was very happy to find them. Everyone’s a winner except the disgusting Saab woman. By the way, I would venture to say anyone who decided to go through your closet would find more high end labeled clothing than they would in theirs! And maybe even a Jackson Pollack-worthy work of art or two on your walls.


Katy July 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

It was the sloshy that got to me.



Steph July 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I’m still awestruck you have a recycler that gives you money right outside the store. I wish!

Congrats on huffpo!


Ann July 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Loved it!! So excited for the NCA! Some of the comments were snarky, but that’s okay! Big time, baby! Big time!!!


MelissaInkDesigns July 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

Congratulations, Katy. How exciting!


Paula in the UP July 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

So many will now learn of your awesomeness!! Congrats on the new gig!

I would very possibly have returned those cans/ bottles, totally depends on just how disgusting they were…..although we get 10c for our returns here in MI!!


Alyssa July 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

I’m one of the folks who discovered you through your Huffpo post – excellently written and so exciting to read! I’m a clotheshorse determined to push people to shop resale (heck, I started a gently-used women’s apparel business out of this determination, running it in addition to a full-time job). I live in NYC and have seen with my own eyes the amount of clothing women discard here – ridiculously high end, barely-worn items that end up in mounds on warehouse floors, earmarked for rag factories and dumps. Talk about product lifecycles cut short. Looking forward to reading more of your blog 🙂


Katy July 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

Welcome, Alyssa! And it’s not just NYC where women buy deposable clothing to be worn a few times and then discarded.



Mr. Everyday Dollar July 30, 2012 at 7:18 am

Living your life this way is admirable. One of the best benefits of this lifestyle is how much less of an impact on the environment it has. Plus, it brings into perspective the important things in life, namely not anything that’s tied to conspicuous consumption. Why even have a tea kettle when you have a saucepan? That’s the life I try to live.


Katy July 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

I like to have an actual tea kettle, as it is safer to pour, especially for my spacey kids. However, I am also totally fine with doing without as well.



Diane C July 31, 2012 at 8:37 am

A teakettle boils water more efficiently. Since it is used for a single purpose, it also requires less frequent cleaning. Win-win.

Teakettles also turn up frequently at GW, garage and estate sales. I pick up the best looking ones and give them as gifts with a nice selection of (look expensive but weren’t) teas. Place it in a nice (recycled) basket lined with a fun dish towel (thrifted, of course) and you have a unique and special gift with no waste.


Erin August 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I live in the state to your north where we don’t have the same recycling facilities, however my husband and I were feeling very self-conscious about our recycle bin filled to the brim with beer bottles. The great part of living in the PNW is the adundance of microbreweries. Now we just fill up a growler and our waste has diminished considerably!
(I too found you thru Huff and find your blog inspiring!)


Lightlycrunchy August 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I just read your article – and loved it. I’m looking forward to reading more of them. There were some negative comments, but I imagine those are people who don’t get it and don’t see any need to. I grew up living simply and frugally and hope to do the same with my kids.


gabrielle August 3, 2012 at 5:22 am

Congrats on your new gig!


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