50 Things You Never Need to Buy

By Liesl Clark

50 Things You Never Have to Buy

50 Things You Never Have to Buy

A couple weeks ago, we posted 10 items we no longer buy and have had a resounding response. Well, they were actually 20 items, since the original list of 10 came from Suburban Pioneers. We’ve decided to up the ante and compile a list of 50 items you could cross off your shopping list as most of these are no longer on our list and the alternatives our readers have provided are truly viable. We’ll start at 50 and work our way down to the first 10 listed by Suburban Pioneers.

Here goes:

50) Water: This one was submitted by one of our Facebook page friends. Let’s not ever buy water unless we absolutely have to. With a little forethought, there’s no need to buy water packaged in plastic

Bottled Water for Sale

Bottled Water for Sale

49) Air: Another Facebook submission — Who buys air?

48) Note paper: Notes can be written down on any scrap paper. We write notes on the backside of letters that come in the mail, envelopes, anything with room for a few paragraphs.

47) Wrapping Paper: There are so very many wonderful alternatives to wrapping paper. You’ll find a few in our Trash Backwards app:

Click Through For Gift Wrapping Ideas and Reuses at Trash Backwards

Click Through For Gift Wrapping Ideas and Reuses at Trash Backwards

46) Fly Paper: We’ve started making our own very effective sweet fly paper and won’t ever consider buying the arsenic-laden strips again.

Hanging out to dry. Photo © Liesl Clark

Hanging out to dry. Photo © Liesl Clark

45) Pot Scrubbers: We’ve started using aluminum foil lately, of all things. But Rebecca has a great tutorial for converting a plastic mesh produce bag into a pot scrubber.

Sparkling clean pot scrubber and bowl - photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

Sparkling clean pot scrubber and bowl – photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

44) Planters: Almost anything can be converted into a planter — you just have to use your imagination. Come and get inspired at our app, there are some truly incredible planters there:

Click Through to See Everyday Items Turned Into Planters at Trash Backwards

Click Through to See Everyday Items Turned Into Planters at Trash Backwards

43) Trellises: As above, trellises are a garden feature that can include whimsical reuse. See what others have done in our app, or enjoy this one made from a headboard.

An Old Headboard from Freecycle Makes a Perfect Garden Trellis, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

An Old Headboard from Freecycle Makes a Perfect Garden Trellis, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

42) Chicken Bedding: We use cut grass, dried leaves, roadside grass and — our favorite — Freecycled shredded paper.

Shredded Paper Bedding Photo © Liesl Clark

Shredded Paper Bedding Photo © Liesl Clark

41) Yogurt Maker: Skip the yogurt maker and make your own in glass jars. It’s easy.

DIY yogurt in small glass jars, ready for on-the-go eating, lunch bags, and snacks at home - photo: Rebecca Rockefeller

DIY yogurt in small glass jars, ready for on-the-go eating, lunch bags, and snacks at home – photo: Rebecca Rockefeller

40) Window Washing Liquid: Vinegar and water works perfectly, along with newspaper instead of microfiber rags or paper towels.

No-Smudge Newspaper Method. Photo © Liesl Clark

No-Smudge Newspaper Method. Photo © Liesl Clark

39) Laundry Detergent: Try our DIY recipe and save some money.

Ingredients For DIY Laundry Detergent. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Ingredients For DIY Laundry Detergent. Photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

38) Dish soap: Here’s a DIY Dish Soap recipe that’ll surprise you.

plastic-free baking soda soap in an upcycled pasta sauce jar, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

plastic-free baking soda soap in an upcycled pasta sauce jar, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

37) Salad Dressings: Remember simple balsamic and olive oil dressings? Just make your own delicious dressings in a jar. They get better with age and will give you no excuse for not eating your greens. Try our favorite recipes and you won’t be disappointed.

Adding Vinegar to Taste is Best. Photo © Liesl Clark

Adding Vinegar to Taste is Best. Photo © Liesl Clark

36) Fire Starters: These are so easy to make and they make excellent gifts.

Lint Firestarters, Photo by Liesl Clark

35) Balloons: If you visit Balloons Blow on the Web, you’ll understand why you never want to buy them again. And as an alternative, try a pretty no-sew bunting.

Front Porch with Bunting

Front Porch with Bunting

34) Saran Wrap: We never use plastic food wrap any more, now that we’ve found the ultimate reusable alternative.

DIY Reusable Plastic-Free Food Wrap

DIY Reusable Plastic-Free Food Wrap

33) Gift Tags: We’ve been known, come Christmas, to repurpose last year’s cards as gift tags. You can do the same with all the pretty cards you receive throughout the year — turn them into tags to add to your gifts.

Gift Tags from Christmas Cards © Jenny Lange

32) Padded Envelopes: We receive so many of these throughout the year, and reuse them of course, that we even freecycle a box or 2 to other businesses that can reuse them.

Don't Buy New! Reuse Your Padded Envelopes.

Don’t Buy New! Reuse Your Padded Envelopes.

31) Christmas Ornaments: Ornaments are one of the sweetest items to make, as they’re treasured year after year.

Click Through For Trash Backwards Trash to Treasure Ornament Roundup in our app!

Click Through For Trash Backwards Trash to Treasure Ornament Roundup in our app!

30) All-Purpose Cleaner: Orange peels and vinegar will style you with an all-purpose cleaner you’ll love.

DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

29) Fruit Vinegar: Fruit scrap vinegar is one of the DIY recipes that’s really changed my buying habits. I make a better apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and blackberry vinegar than I can buy in the store.

Vinegars Photo © Liesl Clark

Vinegars Photo © Liesl Clark

28) Potatoes, Arugula: If you’re a gardener, you’ll understand this. When you inadvertently leave a potato or two in your garden, you end up with more next year. Same goes for arugula which always goes to seed in our garden. We never have to replant it. So we simply don’t buy it.

27) Garlic Crusher: In a pinch, use a wide knife to whack at your garlic cloves. Or, go caveman-style as I do and find a great stone for crushing.

Garlic Crushing Pestle.jpg Photo © Liesl Clark

Garlic Crushing Pestle.jpg Photo © Liesl Clark

26) Furniture/Floor protectors: So many items can be used to protect your floors from the scratching legs of your furniture. Flip flops are one among many.

Reuse an Old Flip Flop to Protect Your Floors, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

Reuse an Old Flip Flop to Protect Your Floors, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

25) Silica Gel: We get a lot of silica gel through products that are sent to my husband for his work and then Freecycle it. If you need it, just ask on Freecycle and you’ll likely find plenty.

Silica Gel, Photo by Liesl Clark

24) Beach Toys: So many beach toys are washed up on our beaches, obviously left behind by others, I’d love to see people simply stop buying them. There are great alternatives to buying these redundant plastic items.

Metal beach toys from the thrift shop, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

Metal beach toys from the thrift shop, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

23) String: We rarely buy string anymore, because we aren’t ashamed to say we salvage it from all sorts of items, like our chicken feed sacks.

22) Doorstops: Get creative with your doorstops and you’ll find joy in refraining to buy one.

Boot Doorstop © Rebecca Rockefeller

Boot Doorstop © Rebecca Rockefeller

21) Easter Egg Dye: We discovered a great reuse for an Easter egg dye that we’ll definitely use again — magic markers! Whether they’re used up or not, soaking them in water for a while doesn’t hurt them one bit.

Use your dried up Non-Toxic Markers for Easter Egg Dye

Use your dried up Non-Toxic Markers for Easter Egg Dye

20) Paper towels: Um, use cloth ones.

A few good rags in a basket = alternative to paper towels. Photo © Liesl Clark

A few good rags in a basket = alternative to paper towels. Photo © Liesl Clark

19) Hair ties: Look in every parking lot and on any sidewalk and you’re bound to find a hair tie or 2.

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

18) Pens: As above, look in every parking lot and on the side walks. Pens are everywhere.

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

Pens Recovered on Puget Sound Beaches

17) Ribbons: Simply look on every shoreline and ribbon can be found there.

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

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

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

15) Ziploc bags: Wash them.

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

Gaiam Bag Dryer, Photo © Liesl Clark

14) 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

13) Books: Use your library!

12) Plastic straws: Plastic straws are a scourge upon the land and water. Use your lips, or find a glass, bamboo, or metal alternative.

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

11) Cigarette Lighters: Plastic cigarette lighters replace matches way too often. We still collect cool looking matchbooks from bars and restaurants.

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

Lighters Recovered from Puget Sound Beaches

(For these last 10, be sure to visit Suburban Pioneers for their full post)

10) Post-Its

9) Plastic Funnels

8) Microwavable Neck Pillow

7) Pet Fur Remover (Brush or Stone)

6) Travel Toiletry Containers

5) Rubber Bands

4) Reusable Grocery Bags

3) Pet Poo Bags

2) Cleaning Rags

1) Plastic Leftovers Containers

What can you add to our list? If you’re ready for more, we’ve created a list of 100 Things You Never Need Buy. Enjoy frugal living!

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Reduce Your Use, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

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14 Comments on “50 Things You Never Need to Buy”

  1. February 22, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    I am always amazed by what I see on your site and think, oh…I can do that! Thanks for always writing such amazing and simple ideas

    • February 22, 2013 at 4:43 am #

      Hi Adventures We Week — Thanks so much for the kind words! Great to hear that the steps we try to take aren’t too large. Added up, they’ll eventually make an impact, we know. I enjoy reading about your adventures and look forward to learning more from your site!
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  2. March 28, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Trash bags. Let’s say you are not a perfect zero-waster, and there is still a trash bin at your house. We keep a smallish metal step-can with a removable liner and line the bottom with newspaper. Most wet waste goes into the compost (we have a city compost service), so most of the trash is dry. To avoid smelliness, we rinse off anything wet and non-recyclable before putting it in the trash. (Again, as a non-perfect zero-waster, you might have meat wrappers to throw out. They would drip and smell in your trash bin. Since I have to see and smell everything that goes into the trash when I dump it, not to mention that I have to spray the removable liner down, I want to limit that!)

    Compost bags. It irritates me that these even exist.

    Dryer sheets. They smell bad, they taste bad on your cloth napkins, and they reduce absorbency in towels. (They also create garbage after you’re done with them, as they are synthetic. Then there’s the box they come in to be recycled!) If static cling is the reason you use dryer sheets, remember this: natural fibers tend not to create static in the dryer. Wool makes static, but who puts wool in the dyer? Synthetics, if you wear them (mine are in the form of yoga clothes), should drip-dry anyway. They’ll last longer, and without so much pilling.

    • March 28, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Awesome comment, Susie. Agree completely. I’m working on a list of 100 things you never need to buy and these’ll be added. Many thanks.
      — Liesl

      • May 21, 2013 at 11:48 am #

        A crumpled ball of aluminum foil in the dryer also cuts static cling. Even better, use a clothesline 🙂

      • May 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

        I love the clothesline reminder.

    • Teq
      April 16, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      Over drying your clothes in the dryer also causes static cling. So make sure you don’t over dry your clothes.

      • April 16, 2013 at 8:41 am #

        Thanks, Teq! Great tip, easy to do. Saves electricity, too.
        — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  3. Teq
    April 16, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    You’re welcome.

  4. May 21, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Shampoo…I have heard that you can wash your hair with baking soda and ‘condition’ it with apple cider vinegar. I have not been brave enough to take the ‘Poo free challenge, but I have seen results from others, and from what I see, it works well after a period of adjustment when your hair has to figure out how much oil it actually needs to produce (now that it is not being stripped by shampoo). Not sure if it would work too well for people who have to use styling products to look human (like me).

    Here’s a link to my blog with my 14 things I no longer buy: http://freakshippiespunks.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html

  5. jackie
    May 22, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    For the freezer bag thing we just started using the bags our milk comes in. It good also because you can buy meat or other things in bulk and package them up for a single person and not waste any wood also. Than you just wash and dry them.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. DIY Reusable Freezer Bags | Trash Backwards - April 24, 2013

    […] Ziploc bags lie firmly in the categories of reusable and washable in our household. They’re treated just like a glass jar or container, are washed after each use, hung to dry, and reused over and over again until they no longer work and are recycled with other plastic bags. You can make your own bag dryer, or buy one through Gaiam. We haven’t bought a resealable bag in over 4 years as a result. They’re one of the 50 things you never need to buy. […]

  2. Daily Carry - May 22, 2013

    […] this link because being a survivalist/prepper means being resourceful.  This blog post from : https://blog.trashbackwards.com/2013/02/22/50-things-you-never-need-to-buy/ is an excellent read with lots of good […]

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