Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on March 16, 2011 · 19 comments

I look around my house and it seems that almost everything reflects my Non-Consumer lifestyle. From a bottle of olive oil that perches upside down, gleaning that very last teaspoon of oily goodness, to the pile of clipped coupons for yes, real food. (Down foodies, down!) I could write on and on about it, but instead I’ll let you take a peek.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


It wasn't until the next morning that I noticed that my 12-year-old son only ate half of his school lunch sandwich. The turkey had been sitting out all night and the entire thing had to be scrapped. Must remind myself to have him eat his lunch leftovers as an after school snack.

A pile of clipped coupons shows that couponing isn't just for packaged crap. Note that there are coupons for cooking oil, eggs, bread, cheese, bagels and orange juice. I'll probably only use a few of them, but it will be when these items are also on sale.

When the bottle of olive seems empty, I'll flip it upside down for another drizzle or two.

Two different bottles of upside down shampoo. The Pantene one had been placed in the wastebasket by our Japanese host son when he moved out. There was at least another week or two of shampoo left in it.

When our favorite hand lotion seems empty, we cut off the top and are always rewarded with plenty more product. Insane? Nope, just thrifty. (Sorry about the poor photo, but my camera is not big on the close-up.)

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny March 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

Toothpaste, too. Cut open the tube and there’s easily another week’s worth left in there that can’t be squeezed out.


Jeanine March 16, 2011 at 9:34 am

There’s a cool gadget in the dollar tree that does this as well.

I bought some items there, and this was their “feature” product that they gave away. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise, plastic, and China and all that…but honestly? It works great without getting toothpaste all over the sissors.


Cate March 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

That is so smart re: the lotion trick! I’m always so frustrated by those last little bits in the tube.


NMPatricia March 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Another way I use up the end of my hand/body lotions is to add a little bit of olive oil to it (some even advertise having olive oil in them!) thin it out and then add it to a newer bottle. Helps drain the end of it out.


HeatherS March 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Can’t believe I haven’t thought of cutting open the lotion bottle before – brilliant! I love the fact that there really is always something new to learn about frugal living.


Katy March 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I’m always learning something new as well!



Kristia@Family Balance Sheet March 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I can’t believe I haven’t cut my lotion bottles either. What do you use to cut through the bottle? I have cut through tubes with scissors, but not actual bottles.


Katy March 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I just use regular ol’ scissors.



Roz March 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Sort of related… my parents ran a bar in Britain and paid for our annual vacation with the drips from the liquor bottles. All the whiskies would go in a “blended” bottle etc. etc. This would then be used for bar drinks and money put in pocket!


Dmarie March 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

love that!


Lisa March 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm

My Scottish parents and my English in-laws (all lived through the war) gave me lots of ways to save. My father told me that in Glasgow the dustmen had a rack at the back of the truck or cart. Every bottle they found in the garbage went on to the rack upside down and it funnelled to one container. Each “empty” bottle had three drops in it. My mother-in-law showed me the cutting-open-tubes trick and she always ran her finger around the inside of the egg shell to get the last bit of egg white out. Here in Ontario we have milk in plastic bags that I rinse out and use for sandwiches.


Jeana March 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I cut open my lotion bottles too. I thought I was the only one!


Heather March 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I had to laugh as I had an upside down dishwashing soap container on my counter last week. I enjoy all the frugal ideas.


Katy (another Katy in Portland) March 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

My gosh – five posts and it’s only Wednesday. You are on a roll and I am enjoying all of them!


Cyndel March 17, 2011 at 7:38 am

I just did the same thing with three different lotion bottles. My boyfriend would get a new bottle each time he couldn’t get more out with the squirt handle. He knew there was more lotion in there, so he didn’t throw them away. Finally, I emptied them and found enough to last at least two weeks (he’s still using it, so I don’t know the final day count). Good tip!


Naomi March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

The lotion-bottle photo is my favorite. I’ve been tempted to do that before! But I ended up switching to toothpaste-style squeeze bottles of lotion and good old-fashioned Nivea (the kind that comes in a round container with a lid) instead of breaking out the hand saw.


Heather March 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

An irritation for me: Shampoo and conditioner bottles with odd shaped caps. Because round is so functional and boring! They seem to be designed to keep you from unscrewing and sloshing a little water around to get the last few uses out. Evil! I will be taking your “cut the top off” idea and hacking those bottles until I feel better.


Nita March 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I’ve stumbled on your website because of the Happiness Project website and soooooo far all I can say … I thought I was the only one that cut shampoo, lotion open, washed out plastic bags, etc, etc. Being a SAHM and living on one income we do ALOT to stretch the pay cheques and to save our planet. I’m happy to see some others who do the same and are proud of it!!!!
One thing I’ve been trying to do to make me happier … FIND my creative self again and take a few moments EVERYDAY for me! My kids like the mommy that doesn’t growl at them. AND I like her too. I’d love to win the Happiness Project book … seeing that 100+ on the wait list at our local library! Thanks!


anon March 25, 2011 at 8:41 am

Here is another thing that I do. When there is little shampoo left in the bottle and I forgot to tilt, I just a little bit of water to it. I give it a shake and I use it up as usual. I hate wastage.


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