Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without Challenge

by Katy on March 9, 2009 · 54 comments



I had used up the last of a bottle of shampoo the other day and was about to reach for a brand new bottle, when I took notice all the half-full shampoos that line my bathroom storage. Bottles that weren’t my favorite scent, bottles left by house guests, and all the mystery bottles that somehow snuck into my home. 

These multiple items not only waste our money, but clutter our homes.

When I write “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  at the end of my blogs, I really mean it. This catchy little phrase is the decision making that I want my brain to automatically go through before I buy something new or throw something away.

Use it Up:

  • Have I used up every last bit of this item? (Lotion, shampoo, catsup, bread crust, etc.)
  • Is there someone in my circle who could still get some use out of it? (Hand me downs, magazines, etc.)
  • Can this household item be repaired?
  • Am I eating my leftovers?

Wear it Out:

  • Can I squeeze any more use out of this item? (Stained T-shirts can be worn under sweaters, etc.)
  • Clothing and even shoes can be repaired.

Make it Do:

  • Can I continue to use something even if it’s not perfect? (clothes, sheets and towels can be mended; missing recipe ingredients can be substituted or even omitted, etc.) 

Or Do Without:

  • Instead of getting a great bargain on that cute new outfit, stuffed animal or knick-knack, can it simply not get purchased?

Which brings me to:

The Non-Consumer Advocate Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without Challenge.

Don’t start a new shampoo until all the half-empty bottles get used. Lather up with all those small soaps brought home from hotels. Don’t throw away things that can get fixed or mended. Eat your leftovers. Fix what you can, pass along what’s still good and pass up unecessary tempting purchases.

In short, don’t be wasteful. Value your possessions, whether they be a refrigerator full of food or all the clothing and toiletries you could ever possibly use.

Don’t buy anything you already have enough of.

Are you up for a challenge?

Add your name to the comments section below to be in on the game, and we’ll all play together. Tell us about your proudest use it up moments!

Make sure to check out Jonathan Bloom’s site for lots of great inspiration.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

techiechick March 9, 2009 at 6:08 am

I’m doing my best to play along, and have been lurking for a while… add a UK angle to your list!! I have a big bag of kid’s clothes & toys waiting to go to the charity shop in my spare room. I brought some of my 5-y-o daughter’s clothes downstairs to iron, and she asked why I was giving them away? The poor child…


Colleen October 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Hi Techiechick,
I sincerely hope you explained to her that the clothes either didn’t fit her any more or that she simply had too many and the you were donating them so another little girl less fortunate than her would have something nice to wear. It is never too soon to teach your children to be charitable and to part with their things graciously. The sooner they learn that stuff isn’t important the better.


Jinger March 9, 2009 at 6:26 am

This is definitely me! My household cleaning products are down to 1 bottle of Greenworks spray. And the only shampoo I use us Suave, daily clarifying. I buy one bar of soap at a time for showers and use the small travel/hotel soaps on my bathroom sink… my 20 year old is a very different story. She loves beauty products!


Jocelyn March 9, 2009 at 9:12 am

I’m in. I’m trying not to get groceries again until I’ve exhausted full meals from my pantry. Last night I made granola bars out of the honey/oats/nuts/fruit I had in my cabinets. 12 bars! That would cost about $8 for 2 boxes of granola bars at the store.
And I’m making homemade monogrammed hankies for my stepdad’s birthday out of a cotton button down shirt that’s too big for me.


katydid September 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Such a good idea for a gift! I would never have thought of that!


LeAnna March 9, 2009 at 9:56 am

I’d say I’m in, but I feel like I already do this, probably too much. I have a TON of clutter in my house that is specifically from other people giving me stuff that they know I’ll use that they don’t want. 😛 So I hardly ever have to buy shampoo, for example, because coworkers give me all of their trial sizes and stuff. I do buy generic dandruff shampoo to use 1-2x/week, but I use it diluted 2:1 product to water, so it lasts a year or so.

I have TONS of clothes and stuff in my office that I’m planning to repair, and haven’t had the time. My house looks a little wild because of all of the stuff I just can’t bear to part with because I can use it for SOMETHING down the line…kinda pack-rat syndrome.


LisaPie March 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

I read somewhere, I think it was the Flylady site, that you should squirt a bit of the leftover shampoos no one uses into the recepticle that holds the toilet brush and add some water. Then daily all you have to do is brush a little and flush to keep your toilets clean. This method leaves just enough of the shampoo in the brush to clean with. I have been doing this for a while now.

Also, I just looked in my bathroom cabinets and I think I have a lifetime supply of shower gels and body lotions. That stuff never needs to get on the shopping list again. I am adding that to my list of things to pare down.

Thanks for the reminders to keep at it! You are the best.


TryinginToronto March 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

I am trying to do this too. Some personal triumphs in the last few weeks: I’ve started making my own soup stock from food scraps; saved the red beet stock to colour a future batch of homemade playdough; have been saving the chunky but small hunks of homemade bread that break off for bread crumbs; making my own soymilk; using the okara (a kind of bean mash) from making soymilk into other scratch foods.

I get a strange thrill when my clothes tear or fray or show signs of end of life through actual use. I also use solo socks and other worn out clothes for rags (I will toss these after a particularly hard use), and have better flannel and cotton cloths and napkins for re-use (we don’t buy tissues or paper towels).

One challenge: although I am not a pack-rat, my spouse often just wants clutter – any clutter – out. After lots of discussion, I realize that it really robs him of energy and that we’re just not in the same place right now about reducing waste, etc. So if I want to keep things for mending, crafts, or whatever future uses, I really have to keep it organized and out of sight for harmony in the house. It’s actually a good thing, because it encourages me to be more organized and to think about what’s realistic for now (we have two little guys in (cloth) diapers).


Kimberly March 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

A little off topic, but I wanted to say I love your blog! I just found it about a week ago and I am hooked.

Anyways, I can totally relate to the cabinet full of barely used, or half empy shampoo and conditioner bottles, I have tons!. I am actually really embarassed when I see them all and think of how much money and resources (all those plastic bottle, ughhh) I have been wasting trying to find that “one” shampoo to miraculousy make my fine, thin hair beautiful. Anyways, I am definetely trying to use up all the beauty products and house cleaners I have in my tiny apartment before I buy anymore! I have had this tendancy to stock up when things are on sale, but I really need to quit shopping all together until I use up some of this stuff!


Jeanine March 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I had a moment this weekend….I had a coupon for 3.00 off two bottles of Herbal Essence . I love their None of your Friziness line. Walgreens had the whole line for 2.99 each. So with my coupon, that would have meant 1.50 per bottle.

I was in line and decided that I needed to use up that bottle of Cream of Nature, that pack of Olive Oil/Aloe shampoo, that itty bitty bottle of Carols’ Daughter….

And I put the HE right back. I hate that though….because I know HE works…I didn’t have such great results with the other products.


Hippy Habibi March 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

We try to do this but the challenge is a great reminder! I have some semi-dressy sandals that are starting to fall apart. I was getting ready to replace them but I should be able to squeeze some more life out of them.


Stacey March 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I’m in! I just completed a food budget challenge for February and thought I’d splurge this week, but I just couldn’t. It just didn’t feel right when I knew we had plenty by following my menu plan.

It’s funny that you mentioned shampoo, because I only wash my hair about once a week (I rinse on other days when it seems drab or oily) and I’ve had my bottle of shampoo forever. When I finally use it up I plan to use baking soda.

A recent “do without” story: my son will turn 4 in May and my parents want to buy him a ginormous outdoor playset. I went to Lowe’s this weekend to price one and it was over $1500 just for the kit to assemble yourself! I walked right out and decided someone will either give us theirs that they no longer use (because their kids have grown up) or we will continue happily to frequent our neighborhood playground.


Ashley March 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I’m in! I have been trying to use up shampoos and soaps and lotions for a while now. Happily the soap is down to one now and the shampoo is down to half a bottle and a few trial sizes. The lotion has been the thorn in my side! I want new stuff but know I have to finish what I started. The body butter is finally gone but I still have five bottles remaining!:( I was less than thrilled when a friend gave me one for a gift not too long ago.

Today I wondered into the shoe store and saw a cute pair of sandals on sale thinking yes! I will buy these! Then I realized I have a similar pair at home about five years old. For a while I debated with myself but finally put them back. Who cares if there is a foot print in the shoes I already have? No one will see while I’m wearing them anyway! Now is there anyone out there that knows how to clean dirty flip flops so I can’t use that as an excuse for a new pair?


tam March 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm

It’s so funny you mention this. Just last week, I gathered all of the tiny hotel soaps in my house and told my husband that we weren’t buying any more soap until they were used. (we have about 50 little bars!)


marianne March 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm

im in! i dont really know what im going to do yet but i will find something. maybe just pairing down on everything that is on my book shelf.


Mary C March 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I am in, I have a total case of pack-rat syndrome and I tend to stock up when there is a good price, except there are “good” prices more often than we use the stuff up.


Linda March 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I’m in. My problem area is the cleaning supply aisle of the store. I’m always looking for that “miracle” cleaner that will make my house sparkle. I really do know that it is my effort that will produce the sparkle, not a product, but it is still hard. So…no more…I’ll use what I have & find more earth friendly cleaners when those are gone.


Julie March 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm

My “use it up” story is the natural gas that was powering my oven today: while it preheated to 400 degrees, I roasted some pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in olive oil and tamari, then I mixed up a batch of white chocolate/blueberry scratch muffins, and added those to the oven. As soon as there was space when the pepitas were done, I put in some potatoes to bake for tomorrow’s dinner. When the muffins were done, I put in a mashed potato/”pretend” (soy) hamburger casserole so that the cheese on top would melt. I shut the oven off for the last 15 minutes or so that the potatoes needed to bake. Then I left the door open to spread the last bit of heat into the room. (It actually snowed here in the Seattle area today, quite weird on any day but especially in March.) While I was still hanging around the kitchen, I put some steel cut oats and almond milk in the mini crock pot and that will feed me for breakfast a couple of days in a row. Whew. I really feel like I got my money’s worth out of heating the oven today!
As for tiny soaps and shampoos etc., in my previous life, I worked in the travel business and got to stay at hotels a lot. I saved every bit of the freebies and enjoyed the variety. Then after my son was born, we didn’t travel at all for years and years. Gradually, my stash was used up. Two years ago, my husband took a new job and had to start traveling about 4 times per year. I really hate having him gone, but I trained him well. He always brings the toiletries back, even the partially used ones, and it provides a nice change from my regular organic brand that I use. And also, I put water in the shampoo bottle when I think it’s done, swish it around, and I can always get at least one more wash out of it!


BohoBelle March 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I’m in.

Ps. Julie I aspire to be as organised as you with my baking!


Martha March 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Another idea for those body products that you have from hotels or gifts…food banks love those things–they are always looking for more soaps and shampoos. Every time I stay in a hotel I bring home the soap and shampoo for our food bank. I’d much rather use my own shampoo than using up hotel ones….

My partner cuts open bottles of sunscreen when we think they’re done and it is incredible how much is still in there ready to be used. I suspect that would work for lotions and shampoos too, but we buy those in bulk so don’t want to wreck the bottles!


Marj March 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I’m in. I just love this keeps me charged up to do all these things. Our hotel soaps finally got used up, we have some half used shampoos to work on now.

My most fun will be the pantry and freezer cooking.

I was brought up to use it up, wear it our and make it do. We never had to do without………lots of older cousins for hand down clothing. We never went hungry although I still don’t like bread pudding. LOL

I sure love Goodwill though. Get there maybe once a month. Maybe once every 2 months now.


Dana March 10, 2009 at 12:14 am

While I think we do fairly well in this area, there’s always room for improvement.

I do stock up on shampoos, etc when I can get them for next to nothing. We give away a lot of what we end up getting for free, or almost free.

We are also fairly good at eating leftovers and using up food from the freezer.

One problem that we have here is TOYS. You know, the cheap kind with lots of little pieces that end up scattered all over the room. I’d rather the girls have a few quality toys that they play with than a bizillion things that they don’t play with and we end up having to pick up from all over the house at the end of the day.


mary March 10, 2009 at 12:41 am

I am new to the site. I would like to take up the challenge. I know I have alot of bottles under my bathroom sink. alot of half full shampoos and soaps. I also need to work on my pantry, using up those cans of food that have been there for a couple of months.


Evie Abat March 10, 2009 at 3:24 am

I’m so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog. I just joined The Compact, so we’ll see how I do.

Last night, instead of buying a ton of stuff for a new recipe to try for dinner, I found a recipe that uses a lot of stuff I already had on hand. My problem is that I tend to buy a bunch of food (like a huge amount of parsley, when just a smidgen is called for) for a recipe, or for “just in case”, and then it goes to waste. So, I’m going to try to use up what I have in the pantry for right now.

What I’m really having problems with is clothes. I LOVE clothes, and I’ve signed up for updates on fashion sites like CheapChica, StyleBakery, etc. It’s fun looking at what’s new. But do I really need more clothes? And how can I figure out buying something I need and will love and use forever (like a black cashmere sweater or a black cardigan) versus buying the same thing, but cheaper and made with less expensive but not-as-long-lasting materials. Sigh! That’s my biggest challenge (along with the paper clutter, which I have GOT to clean up).

However, I am giving away or selling clothing items, or books, or CDs I haven’t used in a while or don’t really LOVE. It’s all about love. If I love it I keep it; if I don’t, I need to let it go.


chaotic kitten March 10, 2009 at 3:54 am

I am definitely up for this challenge! There are so many areas where it applies to me, and I hate being so wasteful.

It starts now!


Wendy March 10, 2009 at 4:26 am

To Linda concerning the cleaning aisle, I used to have such an affinity for finding just the right cleaning product that I would audition a new one each week. Then, one day I became so smitten with the virtues [& cleaning power] of natural products for cleaning that I ended up donating all of my “miracle” cleaners. Now, I can’t imagine that anything could ever measure-up to the power of vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda.


Sharron March 10, 2009 at 5:34 am

I’m in! Waste not, want not–remember that old saying? I look forward to seeing how far I can live into that saying.


Kassie March 10, 2009 at 5:42 am

Add a bit a water to the end bits of lotion and shampoo, turn them upsidedown in a cup (lid closed) and wait. Put the accumulation of all in 1 bottle, rinse and recycle old bottles. This works if you have a lotion or shampoo you dont particularly like… add bits to one you do like…you wont notice the difference and nothing will ever be wasted. As for cleaning flip flops- spray them with your favorite cleaner- soak in water- wipe clean and then use a ‘magic eraser’ they will look like new (unless they are really really bad)


thenonconsumeradvocate March 10, 2009 at 6:20 am

I’m very excited to see so many readers taking up this challenge.

Being less wasteful is a habit that once started, is hard to kick.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Wendy March 10, 2009 at 6:28 am

“I’m very excited to see so many readers taking up this challenge.”

The challenge is an honor because of the lasting change it can bring about in our lives. With this challenge it is possible to discover that we are resourceful and creative; but, mostly that we are determinately charge of our purchases rather than being passively consumed by reflexive shopping impulses.


Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks March 10, 2009 at 7:12 am

I have fragrance allergies so I really can not use many cleaning and beauty products. I find a cheap vanilla scented shampoo and we use that until it is gone – just one bottle. I was horrified to find that a friend had about fifty bottles of almost used up shampoo in her bathroom – fashion conscious teenagers of course, but mama should have said enough! I am thinking we will switch to baking soda for hairwashing since we are old enough now to have dry skin.

I remake clothes until the fabric is worn through. I anticipate that the plain gray jumper I am wearing right now is about the get dissected and resewn, as it is old enough that the seam lines have stretched, and I have a much better sewing machine now.


Kristin @ klingtocash March 10, 2009 at 8:53 am

I’m already doing most of these things, but I’m on board for the rest. How do you factor in getting really good deals for things? Do you not buy it to save the money or buy it because you know you are going to use it later and pay more (like deodorant)? If I can get two sticks of deodorant for .25 cents each, should I skip it? That’s going to be tough.


thenonconsumeradvocate March 10, 2009 at 9:09 am


I am by no means against stocking up on item when there’s a great sale, provided it’s something you’ll actually use. That’s that good financial sense. (Buy your “needs” when they’re cheap.)

I bought a tremendous amount of cereal this week because it was less than a dollar a box, some of it free. I will now not NOT buy cereal for a few months. (It was cereal I buy anyway, like raisin bran.)

What I won’t do is start a box, get tired of it and then throw it away when it’s stale.

I am against have half-full containers of shampoo, catsup, salsa, etc, and then opening brand new containers.

That’s waste, plain and simple.

I just want people to think twice before going about a routine that may be wasteful.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Viki March 10, 2009 at 9:52 am

I’m in for this one! I have so many shower gels, lotions, and shampoos! Here’s an idea for all of those travel size things you can’t/don’t want to use (or use them up, empty them and refill)-donate them to a local group who packs boxes for the troops overseas. They can’t have full size bottles of lots of things. They LOVE getting the travel sizes because they take up less space in the goody boxes they send over. If you work somewhere where you can get extra, take them and hand them over! The soldiers usually want “unisex” smells so they can go to anyone there. (Personally, I think some should be girly, but that’s my opinion) If you’re in IL, go to for ideas.

Anyway, I’ll have to see what else I can accomplish. I want to get rid of all of my toxic cleaners, but hate to throw away bottles that are 3/4 full. I know I can take them to the hazmat, but then they throw away the bottles… plastic waste. hmmm… I’ll have to think about this one.

If you do the natural cleaning thing, what types of cleaners to make ahead of time and keep on hand?



Nicki March 10, 2009 at 10:43 am

Funny story. My dh is totally against me scavenging the little bottles of shampoos and lotions from hotels. Last summer, I went with him on an out-of-state convention. We stayed at the (really nice) hotel for a week. Each day, they left TWO bottles of each item when the maids came to clean the room for the day! So, I of course pocketed them all and didn’t tell my dh. I stuck them all in the outer zipper compartment of one of our suitcases. I was thrilled! Until we got to the airport….our suitcase was 1/2pound overweight, and dh had to pay an extra $35!! When we got home and I was unpacking the suitcases, he saw all of the stuff and threw a fit!! 🙂

Another good thing to do with all of those small-sized bottles of toiletries is to donate them to your local school. Our guidance office collects them and then distributes them to not as fortunate families who are in real need.


Janet March 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Find a good shoemaker! I’ve owned a pair of clogs for about 15 years. I recently had them resoled and polished by our local shoe repair man. The shoes cost me $45. The repair cost $30 and the shoes should last me another 15 years – which means by the time they are really shot – or they are buried with me! they will have cost me $2.50 a year.


Jan March 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I haven’t bought soap in years. I’ve traveled enough to accumulate them from various hotels/b&bs. I have several more years to go before I run out. Nicki, your husband might like to know that whether he takes the toiletries home or not, he still paid for them.

Due to some financial setbacks I convinced my husband to dismiss the housekeeper. (His previous wife died and he didn’t have a clue as to how to clean, so the lady was hired. 3 years ago when we got married I tried to get rid of her, but he wouldn’t.) So something good came of less income. One thing I’m doing without is the housekeeper.

And that makes me happy. I’m perfectly capable of cleaning, and I think I do a better job than she did. However, it’ll be some time before I’ve used up the Pledge, Lysol, etc. that she insisted upon. I’ve moved to vinegar/water where I can, and will make my own organic/inexpensive cleaners when the chemical stuff is gone.


Nancy March 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I’m in your challenge. I’ve actually already started. I decided last month that I was going to eat out of my pantry for a month without buying anything except produce or dairy. I plan on having only one shopping trip to the grocery per month and using what I have. I still have so much and just shared with someone who really needed food. Another thing I do is buy a large jug of Dr. Bronner’s soap and use it for about everything. I’m planning on checking out the Compact now and probably signing up. I already decided that I would have to sew, knit and do needlework with the stash I have on hand and not buy anything new unless it’s to complete a project already started. We’re talking thread, zippers, etc. What do all you who sew do about thread. Do you buy it new if you’re doing the compact?


Mel March 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

This is great advice I try to live by. For example, I have a face cleanser I like to use that has a bleaching effect on my towels. I try to only use my white towels as my hand towel in the bathroom, but sometimes I forget. Many of my once colorful, coordinated bathroom towels now have odd peachy looking hand prints on them. Oh well, they still dry my hands and face the same as they did when they matched my cute little bathroom. I just can’t throw them away. I do keep some “guest ready” towels on hand for when I want to impress the company.


Mandy March 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Living in a house with 3 women (one of whom sold avon and mary kay for a while) we have a huge stock pile of lotions, shampoos, face wash, bars of fancy handsoap, and just all kinds of strange things. I have given tons of it away, but I still have a large box that I am working my way through at what feels like a snails pace. My goal is not simply just to get rid of it, but to use it wisely as well. The longer I can go with out buying soap is saving me money.

Things I have done:
1. Used aloe vera as a shaving lotion.
2. Used shampoo/conditioner that made my hair overly greasy as a shaving lotion.
3. Using up the tub of vasiline as chapstick (refilling my little burts bees tin with it).

I actually thought I was finished with my shampoo collection, and ordered a sample pack of shampoo bar’s from an etsy seller. But today I found another bottle of shampoo and conditioner.

I am commited to not buying anything until it’s all gone. I am on my final tube of tooth paste! And only 1 more container of deoderant to go. It’s really amazing to me how much I seemed to randomly buy things and suddenly have a huge stock pile.


Jean March 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

RE: flipflops, I throw them in the washer with towels and let the towels scrub them clean. I used to have an addiction to the fancy nice smelling foam pump hand soaps from Bath & Body. Recently a friend passed along a bottle that makes any liquid soap product into foam, so now am using up lots of bubble bath, shower gels, etc that had been lingering in the vanity. Still get the lovely scent and am using up products I might otherwise have tossed. Love the hotel amentities, take them even if I don’t care for the scent, our local womens shelter loves to get these items.


tammy March 11, 2009 at 5:56 am

Mandy! I use the last of the bottle of conditioner as shaving cream. Leaves my skin smooth and silky! My best use it up moment came recently when boyfriend tossed a bottle of lotion. I took off the top, turned it upside down in a small glass jar and drained at least half a cup more lotion from the “empty” bottle! This is a wonderful challenge Katy! I can’t wait to see what we all come up with.


Magdalena March 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Sometimes you can find a bag or box of thread and notions at a thrift store, or even at an estate auction. I got a lot of fabric and vintage patterns from a church rummage sale. But caution: old textiles, including thread, gets weak with age, sunlight and heat, or it may be musty. Check it out carefully! And it’s probably the weird colours – I have to buy white and black, and try to plan my sewing to coordinate with the basics, then I don’t end up with three-quarters of a spool of neon blue.


A. Marie March 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I’m in. Actually, I’ve been in for years. (My late mother and I were subscribers to Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette.)

The true challenge is to extend Katy’s original example of using up the health and beauty products to all aspects of our lives. Take cleaning out the refrigerator, for example (please!). You can make a very serviceable soup stock out of things you accumulate, without having to go to the lengths recommended by Martha Stewart et al. Vegetarians can make a stock without including bones, but I like to accumulate about two chicken carcasses or a big Ziploc bag of beef bones (from pot roasts, etc.) in the freezer, and then add whatever looks as if it needs to be used from the vegetable compartment (celery, onions, garlic, etc.). Onions and garlic can even go right in without having to be peeled, just rinsed. Throw everything into an 8- or 10-quart stock pot with water to cover it plus the seasonings of your choice, simmer several hours, strain off liquid and chill overnight, skim off the fat the next day, and then proceed with the soup recipe of your choice. Bon appetit, mes amis!

Compliments to all preceding posts–and particular admiration to Julie for getting all those things into her oven in one day. I’m not nearly that organized!


Stasie March 13, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I applaud everyone’s efforts. I truly believe that even one person can make a difference. Keep it up everyone!

I have been trying to do some of these things….use up lotions, shampoos that I already have. Depleting pantry items and trying to stretch food shopping to two weeks and only buying what I need. I always add water to juices for myself and daughter. If you buy frozen concentrate you can save a lot of money too.

I have an awesome bread machine- I have been making my own pizza dough once a week and we have one w/ all the fixings for less than delivery. Somehow I can make jam in my bread machine so I used up some frozen berries and recently gave that as a little hostess gift.

I am trying not to use paper towels or napkins. I have been transitioning gradually to cleaning cloths(old towels) and cloth napkins as my DH thinks I am obsessive! Also, my job does not have bottle/ plastic recycling… I am bringing that home to recycle.

Other than that, I am making a huge effort to not bring any more yarn or fabric into the house and only use the supplies I have on hand.


AJ in AZ March 15, 2009 at 10:40 am

All these comments are great, and it is so great to finally have a peer group. The people I know, mostly younger but also my inlaws, have always thought my frugal ways were totally crazy. Now they are asking me how to economize.


TheAfricanQueen March 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm

When I was in the army and out on field maneuvers, I didn’t always have access to laundry soap when we went into the contolement facility to do our laundry. Instead, I used shampoo and it worked fantastic!

Recently, I was going to throw a few pairs of jeans away, but the creative side of me gave in to saving them as I really want to make some marionettes and these will be what I use to make a part of their bodies.

When I make a recipe, I have found a substitute list on the internet that I have printed off. (Oh, and when I print a recipe off, if we don’t like it, instead of just throwing that sheet of paper away, I keep it and use the other side to print another recipe on.) Brown sugar is a great substitute for white sugar when making a chocolate cake from scratch. It seems to add moistness to the baked cake. No liqueur? Try an equal amount of vanilla extract. No tomato paste? I use an equal amount of ketchup (organic). What about corn syrup. Use honey, honey.

There are many things my parents and grandparents used to do, that if we did them, we’d save so much and buy so little and have much more in our savings account!

One last thing: Your tax dollars at work ~ use the library to preread a book or magazine that you want but aren’t sure you really want to spend the money on it. Then, if you decide to buy it, check out’s used books and price compare (remember shipping and all that rot!). I’ve only bought one new book recently only because it wasn’t cost effective to purchase it used. My other recent purchase I did buy ‘used’ and it was like it was brand new!


bruce ritchie November 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Great blog!
Just wanted to tell everyone about the “freecycle” network out there. Here in our county it is Rockinghamfreecycle, but all over the usa are chapters in cities or counties. Check it out and help some people recycle building materials, sofas, pet turtles, etc. The only rules are that all things are freely given and freely taken. There you go!


Stephen R. Bock September 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

My wife and I have been simplifying for the past several years. I have read all kinds of books on this subject(most of which I get from the library). I bought used copies of “Affluenza” for all my wife’s siblings for Xmas this past year (bought used on Ebay). The year before it was “Your Money Or Your Life” by Joe Dominique and Vicki Robbins (bought used on Ebay). I challenged my wife with the question, How many items of posesssions do we have in our house? Is it 50,000 or 100,000? It is more than 50,000 because we have purged that many items from our home since we started simplifying. We are constantly going through our possessions looking for things that we can “do without”. All of the charity organizations love us because we have given away truckloads of stuff. We rarely go shopping for “stuff”. Our shopping is mostly for groceries and home repair materials. I was proud that I fixed my lawnmower a couple weeks ago. A bolt came loose and the piece fell off which controls the throttle breaking a spring. I decided to try to fix it (in the past I would have bought a new one). I found a bolt with the right threading(too long) in my stash and went to the hardware store. I bought three bolts (differing lengths) and a spring and fixed it for $2.33. Sure beats $150 for a new lawn mower. As a result of recording every dime we spend we have cut our expenses by 1/3 over the past four years and that is with some higher than normal medical expenses this past year. I am definitely in 🙂


katydid September 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I love this site. I used to be so good about all this, back in the hippy-dippy era. Time to go back to my roots and try again!


amy October 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Another great use for those little bottles of shampoo-
Dilute with water and fill a bottle with a squirt top to use in the laundry.
Use on those rings on shirt collars, it really gets them clean!


froggieb31 June 12, 2012 at 7:59 am

I am certainly in on this challenge! I am trying to help my children financially with my three beautiful grand daughters. Both my son and daughter have had bouts with unemployment. This will be my legacy to my family, to teach them to conserve and save. In this “spend it before you get it” world I think this will be a fun thing for us to become involved in as well as a way to feel better about how we blindly consume, consume, consume.


anna August 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I just found your website from the MSN feature today. Sounds like something I DESPERATELY need. I plan to look into this, and at least TRY… =)


L.D. October 7, 2012 at 9:28 am

Use it up wear it out, make do or do without. I come across this depression saying over ten years ago, another that has stuck with me is “Watch the nickels and dimes and the dollars will take care of themselves”, this not only applies to money but everything in life if you think about it. If you don’t patch that little hole in the roof it can result in great damage to ceilings and walls, if you don’t change oil and grease the chassis of your car it will turn to big pile of scrap iron. Its the little things that lead to big trouble, be proactive not reactive. Ben Franklin was good at slogans, “A stitch in time saves nine” , “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Simple words of wisdom to live by.


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