You Know You’re Non-Consumer When . . .

by Katy on May 9, 2013 · 71 comments

  1. Your favorite recent purchase was actually a curbside find.
  2. Your answer to your child’s question of “Why are our kitchen sponges so small?” is “What are we, Rockefellers?!” (This is because you cut sponges into half or even thirds!)
  3. You’re careful to properly care for your belongings because you know that your thrifted belongings are better quality than what you could buy new.
  4. The advent of sunny weather signals a mass laundry day.
  5. Your gardening decisions are based on what you can get for free.
  6. You mend items others would just throw away, like underwear.
  7. You have a hard time getting rid of stuff, because you see how most things can be repurposed.
  8. You look forward to leftover nights.
  9. You flip through fashion magazines and laugh at them.
  10. Your batched errands include such highlights as “the cheap gasoline” and “my favorite thrift shop.”

Now you. How do you know you’re a Non-Consumer? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 9, 2013 at 8:26 am

Cutting sponges in half….. oh my god you’re a genius! I am doing this as soon as I get home 🙂


Meghan May 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

Me too!


AFS May 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm

A friend of mine saw my tattered scotchbrite sponge 4 years ago. Her next visit she presented me with a TWELVE Pack. I still have ten of them unopened and #11 has a lot of life remaining.


cathy May 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

In my house the question would be more like “Why don’t we have sponges like normal people?!” (Hint: Mom prefers dish rags.)


Eliza May 11, 2013 at 3:53 am

Last time I broke out a new sponge my MIL (that very same day) used it to clean the outside furniture. I was horrified – I have hundreds of rags for that purpose. She didn’t get it and went out and bought me a bulk pack, too. I haven’t even opened it – I just thoroughly washed the original sponge.

Elaine in Ark May 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

I do, too! I found some that I liked and got enough to use a clean one every day. I still have some sponges, and I’m using them in the bathrooms. One is starting to get icky and will tossed pretty soon.

Karen May 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

You mend dogs’ plush toys instead of buying new. Those dogs have very sharp little teeth!


Katy May 9, 2013 at 8:32 am

This would be very non-consumery of me, since I don’t have a dog!



Karen May 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

I have read about you dealing wit kitty litter, so you must have at least one cat.

BTW, my dogs are both rescue.


Elaine in Ark May 13, 2013 at 7:00 am

Mine are both rescues, too. Whenever I hear someone say they’re thinking about getting a dog, I try to steer them away from breeders and talk up the shelter (my dog got sick while they had her, and they nursed her back to health. She’d been there almost exactly one year when I adopted her.) People don’t realize that shelters often have pedigreed dogs as well as mixed breeds.


Vivian May 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

If you have a cat please share your non-consumer ideas. Thanks, Vivian from Canada.


Katy May 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I buy my cat food and litter at Costco, and only take them to the vet if there’s a problem. And before you wonder about the safety of this, also only take my kids to the Doctor when they’re sick.



Vivian May 9, 2013 at 9:27 pm

🙂 We started buying litter at Costco when we started using the litter box in the house because of getting a kitten otherwise our cats went outside. Gross hey, but we have so many strays using our yard another two was no biggy. Yes we have to pick it up after the winter.

Our cat food we buy at a big box pet store since my husband thinks we should to stick with it because our 12 and 14 year old cats have never been to the vets except for being fixed. Katy as far as your practice about the doctor and vet that is my practice as well.

Jane in Seattle May 9, 2013 at 8:43 am

Your answer to the kids I want is …that’s a willow tree in the back yard, not a money tree! you get excited when you can get baby food for more than FREE and take it to the food bank.


Sharon May 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

“What are we, Rockefellers?” LOL That’s prime.

And absolutely, what I get second-hand is far superior in quality to what I see other people buying new.

You know you’re a non-consumer when you can say you learned how to recognize quality in clothing from reading books. Specifically the details of construction and materials covered in the oft-maligned “Dress for Success.” As the author Dorothy Sayers wrote in one of her detective novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey that the quality of a product is the assurance of its maker’s name; a name is not an assurance of quality. I no longer care what the maker’s name is. I care only about its quality.


Megg May 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

Your laundry basket is actually empty and you haven’t run the dryer in a week and a half because it’s been gorgeous outside.

You can tell the difference between getting something for free and turning down something useless for free. We got a coupon in the mail for a free razor that I was tempted to get…until I realized we had absolutely no need for it, and that would be a waste of resources. I was proud of myself!

You get really excited when someone turns you on to the site!


Reese May 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Alternatively, instead of keeping it for yourself, you could have redeemed it and donated it to a women’s shelter, OR gifted it to a friend in need 🙂


AnnDenee May 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

* there is nothing in the shopping cart which wasn’t on the list.
* the pantry has more canning jars on the shelves than store cans.
* everything new in my closet is “used”, and I am proud of that!
* gardening is my aerobic workout.
* my daughter does not know that food can come with a toy.


Sarah May 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

Love that last one!!!


Angie May 9, 2013 at 9:31 am

1. Using the library to read the books I see on Amazon.
2. Teaching my kids to cook from scratch (no one taught me growing up).
3. Sewing my laundry hampers back together after they started falling apart. They aren’t pretty, as I’m not the best seamstress, but they still have life left in them.
4. Perusing Pinterest and discovering I can make things from stuff I have around the house.


Denise Arneson May 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

You are a non-consumer when…
1. You eat leftovers for breakfast.
2. Most of what you own is secondhand.
3. Most of what you eat is homemade, and what is not generally comes from the clearance section of the grocery store.
4. Your books come from the library.
And finally
5 This is your favorite blog an Facebook page because of Katy and all the followers with their understanding and great ideas.Love you all.


AnnDenee May 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm

yeaaaaaa #5!!


Sarah May 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

…You get a huge amount of satisfaction out of making your own laundry soap, baby wipes/solution, cream cheese, yogurt, bread, jam, etc. (I am also tremendously proud of the fact that my daughter wears cloth diapers. 🙂 It saves an unbelievable amount of money/trash!!)

You use a mixture of olive/castor oil to remove your makeup at night.

You save old candle ends to melt down and make new candles.

You discover a broken hanger in the closet and decide to fix it instead of throw it out.

You have huge rips in your plastic shower curtain liner, but rather than pitching it, you decide to melt the rips back together with a lighted match… (we haven’t actually done it yet, so I don’t know if it will work!!… but this is the plan. Our plastic shower curtain liner is a sad mess after many years of use.)


PoppyEcho May 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

use an iron, if you have one, and waxed paper to protect the iron and the ironing board.


Sarah May 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm



Katy @ Purposely Frugal May 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

You walk into the bathroom to discover your 4 year old filled your bottle of face soap to the top with water, because she’s seen you do that with hand soap. 🙂


Jenn May 10, 2013 at 7:51 am

Love it! My four year old recently managed to fill the toothpaste tube with water “to get the last bit out”. It was quite a mess.


Katy @ Purposely Frugal May 10, 2013 at 10:30 am



Michelle H. May 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

A single box of Ziploc bags (picked up free with coupon) can last for years.

My baby girl takes a bath in a blue tub and dries off with blue hooded towels because my friend with boys gave me almost new hand-me-downs.


Lisa May 9, 2013 at 10:35 am

You know you’re a Non-Consumer when your idea of a relaxing evening is curling up with a good library book and a glass of iced tea.


AnnDenee May 9, 2013 at 10:54 am

yes yes yes!


Kate May 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

Oh, that sounds wonderful!


Kim Stewart May 9, 2013 at 11:16 am

When the last time you can remember being at the mall was in November when you went to get your birthday freebies from Godiva, Sephora, Starbucks and Noodles!

When you know when the discount days are at every thrift in your area.

When your neighborhood “trash/recycle night” is your favorite night to go for a walk!


Michelle H. May 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm

LOL! My old neighborhood had twice a week pickup and I always made sure to go jogging after dark the night before to see if there were any goodies.


A. Marie May 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

(1) When you’re really looking forward to graduation weekend at the local private university, because of all the stuff the affluent students unload on their way out of town.

(2) When you completely economize on makeup/hair color by never using any. (I do confess to using moisturizer, although I may experiment with using olive oil.)


greenstrivings May 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I love these! As for your (2), I’m right with you there and can add “when you exfoliate with baking soda”.


Susan May 9, 2013 at 11:46 am

I know I’m a non-consumer cause I know every single day each thrift store has “senior” specials, half price, buy one, get one, etc.
Yes, I’m a bonified senior, live on a wee pension and still manage to dress nicely and have a lovely apartment -plus my one true weakness, books and quilts!
Your blog is so special to me because of your thrifting and money saving tips – love it!


Vivian May 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

You know you are a non-consumer when:

your son instinctively turns over every piece of paper to draw on the other side.
bottled water is not on your grocery list, large water bottles are not filled at the water store when you plan on camping and a water filter is not installed on your tap.
you dream about Katy’s blog and facebook page.


Susan May 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

When you think twice about every purchase and find that most of the time you really don’t want or need it so you just leave it.


Alison May 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

When you wait for thrift store items to go on sale before you will purchase them. (Today I scored a king size headboard for $10. I have looked at it multiple times over the last few weeks, but was not willing to pay full price, $40. And, it looks great in my bedroom!)


AnnDenee May 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm



AFS May 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I call that my “Wait & see” game. Patience has allowed me to get lots of $4, $5, $10 stuff on 99 cent Monday, you gotta love thrift stores!


Taylor-Made Ranch May 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

You know you are a non-consumer when:

An evening’s entertainment is free and involves sitting on the back porch with your Love and enjoying a night sprinkled with the most brilliant stars in recent memory.

Your higher-end dryer hasn’t even been turned on in over 4 years because you line dry 12 months of the year – pulling out the portable drying racks when you can’t dry outside.

You’ve learned to make your own yogurt, bath soap, noodles and laundry detergent.


~Taylor-Made Ranch~
Wolfe City, Texas


greenstrivings May 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

You take the newspapers and magazines a friend handed down to you and give them to someone else to read when you’re done.

You have to really ponder whether the brand-new, tags-still-on, GapKids dress your 10 year old will love is actually a good buy at $6.99 (no, but it turned out to be 30% off day! woot!).

In your house the Tooth Fairy is not subject to the pressures of inflation.


Cheapchick May 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I mend my own socks (I was thinking does anyone do that anymore?) and when I buy socks I try and buy 3-5 of the same exact type in the same color, that way if one is beyond repair I can still match it with others. They last way longer that way. I see things I like and rather than buying them put things on my garage sale wishlist.


Hannah May 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I mend socks, too. Good socks are more expensive, but I find they last a long time, and are well worth mending. Plus, if I find a style I like, I buy extra pairs, since they seem to discontinue every good design after a few months.

The secondhand wishlist is a great idea!


Katy May 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Your rag bag is filled with scraps made from your husband’s old underwear.

It’s been so long since your last home-dye job, that your roots are five inches long and you refer to it as “ombre effect.” <-- Me. Katy


Vivian May 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Ha about the underwear. My aunt who is about 60 scoffed at describing my grandmother doing this. I have to admit I don’t but I haven’t bought a dish rag in years. My mom (since passed) and my SIL have given me many crocheted dish rags. Anything not good enough to be donated or sold gets cut up otherwise.


mia May 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

This is hilarious!!!


Diane May 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Top one: You just don’t spend money or go into stores except for groceries and basic needs.

You find pleasure in the absolutely free life outdoors…walking, swimming, and taking photographs with a non smartphone’s camera then enhancing them with pixlr.

You find all the free entertainment available and enjoy every minute of it.


Hannah May 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

You save empty jars and tubs to store the buttons, screws, springs, bolts, etc. that you took off the completely worn-out clothing or unsalvageable appliance you occasionally have. You have a drawer full of spare parts for things, that comes in handy when doing repairs.

Sometimes you buy a food product to get the container if it’s a size that fits nicely in your pantry or spice rack. Your dishes and pans are not all in matched sets because they came from different places.

You would rather receive a box of mason jars, than a box of jewelery, for Mother’s Day.


AnnDenee May 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

GREAT Mother’s Day gift.. I’m jealous! 🙂


PoppyEcho May 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm

You hear about someone buying new kitchen/dining room chairs or you see them advertised, and you think “huh? why would anyone buy chairs? chairs are free!” (number one thing that gets put out for free garbage around here)

you are similarly mystified by your quilting friend’s sighs that quilting fabric purchases are probably more than she should spend… because you use old sheets with pretty colours.. and you even feel that paying a $2.99 is a waste for one when if you wait for church rummage sales you can fill a whole bag for $5.

you go to the mall and feel culture shock, its been so long.


kim May 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

the last time i went to the mall was to volunteer for kids on the block at christmas — and it had been at least two years since i’d been there. i got so agitated i burst into tears and had to leave! WHAT are those people doing????????


Laurie Bennett May 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I know I’m a non-consumer because:
* I wash ziploc bags
* I plan on decorating our entire patio (plants, pots, furniture) from garage sale finds
* I can’t remember the last time I went to the mall
* I went to Target to check out one thing in the ad, and not only didn’t need/buy it, couldn’t think of a single thing else I needed while I was there
* while we do go out to eat much more than I care to admit, I only take as many napkins as I will use, and if I’m not taking the drink home, I don’t use a straw or a lid.
*Sometimes I find garage sale prices too high. (that’s a new one for me).
*I bring my own container to the pizza place, as I know we won’t eat it all in one sitting.
*Almost every day I find something in the house I don’t need, and can sell for a bit of cash.
* I stop everything I’m doing to read this blog for ideas as soon as it pops up in my email box.


Maggie May 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

My favorite days of the week are Tuesday and Thursday (the day the thrift store is open), Wednesday (trash goes out on the curb- can you say FREE CURB STUFF?), and Saturday (yard sales!!!)


Sadye May 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I did a clothes diet last year (no buying clothes unless they were replacing a destroyed item), and I knew it had worked when I was window-shopping with a friend and couldn’t find a single thing to try on — the store (and it wasn’t even a huge one like H&M) just overwhelmed and confused me.


dusty May 10, 2013 at 3:42 am

I try to be a non-consumer (as much as possible – went to my first Goodwill the other day, scored a beautiful summer dress, 5.75 yeah!!) and lead a healthy life at the same time (I have been a vegan for several years), so while I agree with most of the comments on this subject I do not agree with not taking pets (or ourselves or children) to the doctor unless it’s necessary. It is our responsibility as pet owners to have them seen at least once a year for shots, exam, etc. I also think we (and children) should go to doctor as well at least once a year even if nothing is wrong just for a checkup. My sister did not believe in having tests, mammos, etc., she felt she was in good shape, didn’t drink or smoke, was a vegan, unfortunately she died of metastatic bone cancer, so sad, primary could have been found and treated if she just went to the doctor. So as wonderful as it is to be frugal and feel that you’re making a good choice as far as the earth is concerned, please don’t put medical care for pets or people in the category of being wasteful.


Alexandra May 10, 2013 at 4:44 am

share wi-fi with neighbors. Cut bill in half!
taking a foraging class and learning what edibles are around to eat that are nutritious and free.
Skipping dentist to every year instead of six months. No problems for years so….
I agree with the only going to doc for issues. Even my doc says pap smears and mammograms should only happen every few years. (I see a pretty radical nurse practitioner so I know I’m not the norm.) My old doc was ready to sign me up for pharmaceuticals or tests every time I went in there.


cathy May 10, 2013 at 5:04 am

I’ve learned that the recommended frequency of pap smears and mammos changes depending upon your age. That info is coming from more “establishment” types, not radicals. I do agree, though, that some providers go to pharmaceuticals faster than others.


Linda M May 10, 2013 at 5:16 am

I would not be alive if it weren’t for regular check-ups! Know your body and take care of it. I don’t think you should go to the doctor for a slight twinge…but don’t ignore the great strides in medicine to save a few bucks!


Katy May 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I take the kids and myself to the doctor on a regular basis. But it’s still not that often.



Stephanie May 10, 2013 at 6:44 am

This song makes me think of you 🙂


Annie May 10, 2013 at 9:37 am

When someone tells you to buy a copy of “The Cheap Bastards Guide to New York City”, (yes, it’s a real book), and you borrow it from the Library instead.


Lindsey May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

When spring comes and our salads consist of dandelion leaves, fireweed leaves and shoots, chickweed and lambs’ quarters. And so does half the pesto—I use half basil and half of a foraged green and no one even notices the difference.


Kailey May 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

…When you get super pumped off making dinner from two mushrooms, half a sweet potato, quarter of a zucchini and some barley.

….you cringe when your friend just got a new iphone even though the other one still works perfectly..and the one before that and the one before that.


Madeline May 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Have graduated from happy hours at the local watering hole to two buck chuck on the patio with girlfriends and home made snacks on a friday night every once in a while.

Finding all the FREE entertainment activities in my town: concerts in the park, movies at the rec center, hiking trails, bike trails, free lectures at the state park close by, culture pass at library for free art museum,etc..

Think once, twice, three times if I “REALLLLY” need whatever it is I think I need..

Wear clothes over and over till they are truly dirty or s almost- smelly, not just once!

Meals have become simpler, less ” side dishes” per meal. Vegan diet helps too!

Redecorating means moving the furniture around not buying new items!


LadyLelan May 11, 2013 at 8:34 am

… when you get your “retail therapy” rush out of car boot sales (and boy do I love these in France…)



Elaine in Ark May 13, 2013 at 6:53 am

…when you’re on the board of your POA and you hang your laundry outside even though it’s against the rules.


Alexandra May 14, 2013 at 3:54 am

LOVE it!


Alexandra May 13, 2013 at 2:56 am

I work in a commercial kitchen and noticed we used a water sprayer and a stainless steel scrubbing pad for most tough jobs. I switched to the same at home, giving up my green scrubby sponges. I have not looked back.
I have a stack of small dish rags/washcloths that I change out every day. I use that in addition to scrubber. the scrubber has lasted 6 months and is a work horse like no scrubby sponge EVER was. I bought a 3 pack 6 months ago and am still on scrubber number 1.

I wonder about bacteria living on a sponge vs living on stainless steel. My instinct says even a rinsed dried sponge will harbor more than a stainless steel pad.


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