Monday, May 10, 2010

Cheap Thrills

I am going to try very hard not to get on my soapbox about consumerism and the state of our throw away nation. I am hoping anyone that is reading my blogs has begun to realize what a crappy cycle most Americans are caught up in. That being said, I like stuff too. I maybe like some different stuff than the average American, but I like it nonetheless. How I get my stuff is where I differ from many. Since the first of the year, I have made a conscious effort to only buy second hand. Everything. There will be some things that I have to buy new, but most things I do not have to.

This saves me money, save the earth and keeps my conscience clear. In the last 10 months, I have purchased four iPods; two nanos, one shuffle and one touch. All four were brand new, in the package still and two of them had extra accessories. I spent $40 on the nanos, $20 on the shuffle and $150 on the touch, which came with a two year warranty and lots of accessories; retailing at over $300. I bought them on craigslist. Now, I did happen to catch a news story, I don't know where I was, where some guy died answering an ad on craigslist. I assure, I have not died yet. I ALWAYS meet in a public place, if I go alone, I give someone all the info I have about the person I am meeting and I check the product before I hand over the money. I use craigslist to buy and sell stuff. I use it for yard equipment too. It's crazy how many people need money and are willing to let something go for super cheap.

I have been trying to only eat from the farmers market or what I grow and make myself. Alli is way better at seeing raw food and envisioning and concocting a whole meal from it. Can you think of a better way to keep the money in Phoenix? Food at the market is usually organic, even without the expensive seal of approval, and it cost the same as conventional food at the grocery store. Everyone profits from this. The local business owner gets a profit, the state gets taxes from the local business and I get nutritious food.

Don't tell me that you don't like an iced latte or tea in the summer. Why are you stopping at Starbucks, the Walmart of coffee? Or any coffee shop for that matter. Make extra coffee in the morning and set it in the fridge for your afternoon pick me up. I just add ice and flavored creamer to a glass, then pour the coffee on top. It even makes that pretty layer effect if that's what you are into. And you can use whatever milk you drink, no $.50 extra for a sensitive stomach. For tea, I brew a big jug of chamomile/peppermint and pour it over ice in a large camping beverage jug, you know the ones with the button to pour. I leave it on the counter for however many days it lasts. No opening the fridge, the kids can drink it without stunting their growth with caffeine and it's quite refreshing! Guess what you still have? Your six bucks, your dignity and my respect. Guess what you don't have? A cup that may or may not be recyclable, a straw that is definitely ONLY garbage and a light wallet.

I love free things! That's why I love "Bulk Trash Shopping". Some call it bulk trash pick up, but you know what they say, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." What can you get from bulk trash? Over the years, I have fixed my fences with slightly used fencing material, I have refurbished three Adirondack chairs, found interesting things to plant in and the kids have found stuff to build clubhouses with. When it's my turn to put out another man's treasures, I always separate real trash from the good stuff people might use. There's never anything left. It's perfect!

This last money/earth saver is not for the faint of heart. I don not turn on the air conditioner until June, later if I can help it. This year, we are going to try and go all summer without the air on. the kiddos will have to move downstairs because it gets really hot up there, but I think we can do it. I don't think many of you can imagine what a triumph that would be for me. Two summers in a row, I lost my air in July, so I am not totally unaccustomed to sweating all day. When my house was built 100 years ago, there was no AC. Granted it was 2-3°F cooler back then. The house was built to catch breezes from all directions. Going all summer will motivate me to fix all the windows, a project I have been putting off for a long time. Wish me luck and invite me over every once in a while!

These are just a few ways to ease your recession. Feel free to leave comments on how you do it. I would love to add more things to this list of awesomeness. In the meantime, I will sip my delicious homemade latte and blog some more!


  1. I'm with you!!! I shop thrift stores, craigslist, the local anarchist free store, clothing swaps, freecycle, and more. Dumpster diving is great!

    I've even started using old, clean t-shirts instead of toilet paper. I cut them up and leave the pieces in a bowl on the back of my toilet. I could wash and reuse better ones (like cloth diapers) but I haven't gone that far yet.

    I work at a cooperative and do all of my grocery shopping there - as a member i get discounts and can buy tons of local, organic products!

    I am fostering fragile baby kittens from the humane society, so i have to use the swamp cooler a little more than I'd like, but I do ask people to save any plastic bags they have so that I can use them to clean up all the little kitten poops! :)

    Showering in cold water during the summer is awesome and saves the energy needed for hot water.

    I also just discovered - where you can swap books, DVDs, video games and CDs for free with people across the country!

    I also, walk, ride the bus, and bicycle as often as possible.

  2. umm... clarification - i leave the CLEAN t-shirt pieces in a bowl on the back of the toilet. i throw the old ones away in a used plastic bag.

  3. Haha! i actually understood that. WE do the cloth wipe route, but we wash ours. I made them from an old flannel bed sheet. They are wonderful and I love them! I will check out swaptree. That sounds great!

  4. This is a great post! Thanks for the tips. I bought a bidet and that is awesome for, um, cleaning up the hiney. I haven't gone to using cloth wipes, but I want to.

    I use my clothes line to dry stuff, and hardly use the dryer at all. We made clothe napkins that we use. Also I repurpose Daddy's camouflage pants into skirts, mei teis and anything else I can. I have a messenger bag or (maybe) diaper bag idea brewing for one of his discards. I also repurpose other clothes. I love to do it.

  5. Bryce has totally called Starbucks the 'Walmart of Beans' for a while now. We also make our own coffees here, toting my jar around nestled in my odd sock covering. I love living on an alley for the bulk trash shopping. We use our compost o 'recycle' our food. We also do the line drying, why not? The kids like finding ideas for our past due clothing also. So many good ideas, so much time to implement them! BTW, Thursday, Tempe at noon!

  6. I think that I have an A in my BIO class and won't need to take the final, so Thursday should work out just fine!!

  7. I love this post, and what you are trying to do to simplify your lives. The real difficulty these days is finding the time to go back to basics. We buy bulk flour and other supplies, make our own bread, dry seasonal vegatables and fruits, etc. But, I have the time. Who does these days?

    I love your posts about your chickens, your garden, it's amazing and you are well ahead of the pack of wannabe back to basic folks.

    Puting one foot in front of the other and taking those first steps is EXACTLY what is most difficult. Many people want to do it, but don't even know where to start.

    Having been gone from the US for ten years now, coming back and going to a grocery store is a horror. BUYING ICE TEA? ICED COFFEE? MICROWAVE MASHED POTATOES? That's when I realised how out of control consumerism is.


    Cheers to you and your family. The kids are lucky beyond words.