10 Things You Should Never Have to Buy

By Liesl Clark

We got our inspiration for this post by reading Suburban Pioneers’ list of 10 common products you never need to buy, so we thought we’d spread the wealth and add to their list. Do read their list first. Keep a notepad nearby, and write down any items we’ve missed. If we all compiled lists of 10 “Never Buy” items complete with explanation, we’d live in a utopian circular economy, my dream economy.  After reading our list, then compile your own and send it along in the comments below.

10 common items you should never have to buy:

1) Paper towels (Um, use cloth ones)

2) Hair ties (look in every parking lot and side walk)

Hair Ties and Hair Clips Recovered From the Parking Lots and Sidewalks of the World. Just wash them. Photo © LIesl Clark

Hair Ties and Hair Clips Recovered From the Parking Lots and Sidewalks of the World. Just wash them. Photo © LIesl Clark

3) Pens (look in every parking lot and side walk)

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

4) Ribbons (look on every shoreline)

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

5) Styrofoam Packing Peanuts or bubble wrap (just ask on Freecycle)

6) Ziploc bags (wash them)

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

7) Plastic children’s toys (just ask any parent for them, they’ll gladly give you a box or 3)

These Plastic Toys Were Being Thrown Away. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

These Plastic Toys Were Being Thrown Away. We Salvaged ‘Em. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Oh, and if the parents in your neighborhood want to hang on to all that plastic, just make your own toys. Here are a few (hundred) ideas for toys you can make from stuff in your home to get you started:

Click through for innovative ideas for making your own toys or reusing them at Trash Backwards

Click through for innovative ideas for making your own toys or reusing them at Trash Backwards

8) Books (use your library!)

9) Plastic straws (use your lips)

plastic straws recovered from Point No Point and Schel-Chelb Estuary, WA, photo by Liesl Clark

10) Plastic cigarette lighters (use matches, especially from matchbooks you collect from bars and restaurants)

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

OK, so now it’s your turn. What’s on your list?

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Categories: Reduce Your Use, Think About It, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

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15 Comments on “10 Things You Should Never Have to Buy”

  1. Prairie Rose
    February 7, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Some great ideas…thank you! As for #9…I agree with you completely, plastic straws need to disappear from our lives, but sometimes a straw is a nice thing to have…GlassDharma makes excellent glass straws in several styles and for all kinds of sipping! A wonderful eco-friendly company with great folks behind it. I drink a lot of lemon water and use it to protect my teeth. You can make a protective cover for the glass straws and carry them with you to use at restaurants.

    https://www.facebook.com/GlassDharma?ref=ts&fref=ts
    http://www.glassdharma.com/

    Love what you are doing, keep it up!

    • February 7, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Hi Prairie Rose. We love Glass Dharma, too! They’re doing great things, especially since they put a lifetime guarantee behind every one of their straws.
      — Liesl

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      Yes, adding to what Liesl said – We love Glass Dharma! We even link to them in the straw post Liesl linked to in her “10 Items” post, but here’s a handy stand-alone link for anyone looking to reuse plastic straws or find durable alternatives: https://blog.trashbackwards.com/2012/04/17/straws/

  2. February 7, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Love this list, too! Mind if I link it on the 10 Common Products post? We are totally on board with the circular economy thing–not only because we are cheapskates, but because over consumption is strangling our planet. Better to use our resources and stuff creatively!

    • February 7, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      Yes, please do link. You started something wonderful so let’s keep it going. I love the idea of compiling a long list of “10 Things” from many different contributors, if they’re willing. One lovely person on our Facebook page added air and water to the list. Of course! Love it.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

      • February 7, 2013 at 9:02 am #

        Thanks! I like the idea of many people doing top 10 lists. We can all pool our best practices and learn from each other!

  3. February 7, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Paper for notes and coloring on. I save all the cardboard from friends and family and keep them handy instead of buying paper.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      That’s a great one, Lois. So, when you say you save cardboard from friends and family, do you mean paperboard from things like cereal boxes?

      We save all white printer paper that comes into our home that is only printed on one side, even junk mail pages, and use them for their blank sides — sometimes for the printer or for kids’ art. Paperboard is now being saved for our business cards. A post about that coming soon.
      — Liesl

      • February 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

        I save all cardboard that comes my way, packing boxes, cereal boxes, pop tart boxes… I am amazed at the amount of processed food some people eat.

  4. Sally Newell
    February 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I always carry a lightweight facecloth for hand drying away from home. I save all the plain backed envelopes come every day for memos to self, lists, big ones good for art work, etc.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Sally. Thanks for your ideas. I’ve always meant to have a small cloth in my bag for us to use instead of paper towels. Great reminder!

      Envelopes are excellent for notes and scrap paper. I save some of the best ones for our seeds saved from the garden, too.
      — Liesl

      • Suellen
        February 8, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

        I save those return envelops that come in junk mail. I just cover the address with stick-on labels usually used for file folders. I never buy a box of clean envelopes. I just use my recycled ones.

        Also, I cut out my address that appears on all kinds of mail and then use those address cutouts for my return address. A little scotch tape goes a long way.

      • February 9, 2013 at 2:24 am #

        Love it, Suellen! I think I’ll try that, too. And we get those sticker addresses from a few organizations, too, but we’re doing our best to cut down on the junk mail.

  5. February 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Hello lovelies. You inspire me to make a nautical version of “10 things”! The two things I’d immediately add to your list: lotion, and household cleaners. Making them yourself isn’t hard, they’re so much better for you and the environment.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sarah: 10 Common Products You Never Need to Buy « Suburban Pioneers - February 7, 2013

    […] Feb. 7 at 10:00 a.m.: Want more ideas?  Check out Trash Backwards’ new post: 10 Things You Should Never Have to Buy!  I challenge all of you to make and share your own top 10 lists of things to reduce and reuse.  […]

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