October 15, 2014

What Not To Buy Today

Do I really need another cutlery organizer? Does the world?

Hmmm. What not to buy today? The possibilities are endless.

I am always coming up with new things not to buy. I derive as much satisfaction from this as more consumer-oriented individuals do in shopping for the same items.

The difference is that they have to pay money for the things, then have to find somewhere for the things to go, then must care for and maintain the things, keep the things safe from theft, and eventually properly dispose of said things.

I like to skip all of that and see what I can do with the resources I have around me. A small example would be not buying a plastic cutlery organizer after our move to the Maritimes. Since I have always had a plastic cutlery organizer in a drawer in my kitchen, it seemed natural to buy one here.

Free cutlery organizers.

So much of what we buy seems natural since it seems like "everyone" has one. But not everyone in the world finds couches, cars, and coffee tables natural. Many do without... and are still happy.

The thing I am doing without today is a plastic cutlery organizer. Instead I am using two glass jars I salvaged after eating the peanut butter inside.

And as I cook I am finding having utensils at hand on the counter is preferable to having them hidden inside a drawer.

Most often the best alternative is to not buy anything.


  1. Anonymous10/15/2014

    I'm having the same conversation with myself around the purchase of a bath mat. Do I really need one? What happens if I don't have one? I'm running an experiment to see how life goes without the luxury of stepping onto a bath mat when I get out of the shower. So far, I don't really miss it. One less thing to buy, wash, store, and replace - yay!

    1. Anon,

      That is funny. We have been living without the standard bath mat for years and haven't missed it.

      When we want something other than cold tile to step on to we throw a towel on the floor.

      Yay! is right. If you can make not buying as much fun as buying you have it made.

  2. Jessica10/15/2014

    This is So true. I enjoy the feeling of deciding / realising I don't need to buy something.

    Funnily enough though, I sent my husband to work today with a little diagram in his lunchbag with a Thing I wanted him to build - a little wooden divider to stop my disorganised utensils from flying to the very back of the drawer every time I open it. What I really need is a new kitchen! with shallower drawers! .......

    1. Jessica,

      You're an engineer. I love the idea of a lunchbag diagram to get the creative juices flowing. A wooden divider is an excellent idea.

      It would be DIY and wood is biodegradable at the end of its useful life.

      A kitchen that you like is important if you cook a lot, and if you are bagging lunches, I dare say there is food prep going on there. Excellent.

  3. I do have a cutlery tray in my drawer, but my spoons (the utensils used the most) sit in a glass on top of the cupboard. Although it took a little time to get used to grabbing a spoon from the cupboard instead of the drawer, now I cannot imagine having to get back into the drawer each time I need a spoon. It also carries on a family tradition as my grandmother always kept her spoons in a spooner and I love that connection.

    I so enjoy your posts and the way they remind me of what is/isn't important and help to keep me grounded in my own life.

    1. Melodee,

      A spooner. That is a new one to me.

      Being grounded is good. Keeping or reviving things that used to work just fine for our grandparents is one way of achieving that.

  4. Anonymous10/15/2014

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!
    As you say, it's incredibly satisfying to realize you actually don't need to buy something. Especially when you realize that in addition to saving money and saving the planet, you're also saving someone the need to spend time at work producing something useless.
    Thanks for your posts, always heartwarming to read :-)

    1. Marion,

      Yes - so many benefits. Thank you for adding the human relief from performing mindless functions to produce needless items. It is ultimately unsatisfying all the way around.

      But this way of thinking is not so beneficial for the corporate interests that employ those people (below a living wage) to make those needless things so a few can profit handsomely.

      This is one reason things that make sense are not currently promoted in the mainstream. But more and more people are coming to the same conclusions you have. That is what is brilliant to me.

  5. Anonymous10/17/2014

    Thanks for the post. Recycled glass jars are excellent for many things...its nice to think outside the standard, consumer solutions. Looks great as well.

    Yesterday on my way from work I stopped to buy a few groceries I thought I needed...the line-up at the cashier was insane, so I left the store without buying anything. After a bit of pleasant scrounging in the fall remains of the food garden (kale, onions, garlic, herbs) and back of the pantry (pasta, sea salt, red pepper flakes, olive oil, a scrap of parmesan - an excellent pasta dish resulted. Super delicious, very frugal, and enough leftover for lunch today. The bag of red lentils in the pantry, with more garden produce (lots of fresh dug carrots, plus onions and garlic), some Indian spices will be this weekend's (and a few work lunches) hearty soup. Maybe a batch of whole wheat rolls too. Still no need to head to the store - more time to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather.


    1. Jake,

      The day you describe sounds fresh and perfect - less shopping (even if it is for food), more enjoying fall and self-reliance. Nice. Thank you for sharing your non-consumer moment.

  6. Anonymous10/17/2014

    There are those in the minimalist movement who stress leaving your counters free of anything. I happen to find it so much more convenient to have utensils in crocks on the counters instead of in drawers. I was lucky enough to inherit crocks from my farming great grandparents. Never thought about the cutlery, but it makes sense.

    It's a fun challenge to always think of what I can do without or make do with something I already have. Never ceases to amaze me all the money wasted on things I really didn't need, but thought were must haves.

    1. Miss Marla,

      Oh, if I had all the money back that I have wasted in my life. I guess they were all (costly) learning experiences.

      And that's no crock. Sorry, couldn't resist. I do actually love old time crocks.

  7. Anonymous10/18/2014

    I love jars! I have a medium sized box of them in my pantry. It is my go-to for most storage especially things in the kitchen. Others reach for a ziplock and I reach for a jar!

    I give away soup, etc., in jars and asked that they be returned (for food refills) or that they re-use them. After ate the jelly, I re-use the jar a jelly jar for a cup of herb tea and take it nearly every where I go. This keeps me from being tempted to drive-in somewhere. Down here it's hot and one gets thirsty when out and about.

    I shop for food at a store that sells bulk food. I take my jar into the store, let them weigh it, and go fill up with food items. When I get checked out, they subtract the weight of my jar and only charge me for the food in it. We only have one store like that here. Would be wonderful to see more food and things like laundry soap offered in bulk.

    Just think of all the plastic we are NOT using when we use jars over and over again! Ooooo, I love jars!

    Love seeing your cutlery handy on the counter in jars and this whole concept of not buying and using what you have. So creative, resourceful, and rational.


    1. Terri,

      Of all the stuff we gave away before our big move, something I miss the most would be my marvellous collection of glass jars. Small jars, medium jars, and huge jars all gone. Now I am starting over, but I don't know if I can eat that many pickles.

      I love your ideas for being prepared while out instead of relying on buying things to keep you going. The bulk store sounds awesome. We are still looking for something similar in our area.

      Plastic avoidance is definitely a motivator for acquiring a new jar collection, which is off to a good start.


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