Monday, May 04, 2009

Thrifty / green tip of the day

I just wanted to share a thrifty tip with you that is a "duh" for me but might not have sunk in with those less used to being frugal. It's also quite eco-friendly and green. It is this:

Never, never, within reason, turn down anything free.

Srsly. Let's say your mother-in-law offers you leftovers after thanksgiving and you hate most of her cooking.  What if you know for a fact she's just going to chuck it in the garbage disposal (like my Father-in-Law's wife does)?

Take it. Take the food. Not only does it give you a little bit of an 'in' w/ her, but you might be able to use it. Put the carrots or the green beans in soup. Freeze the cornbread to make your own delicious stuffing. If you have chickens, toss the rest to them and eat those fresh eggs with a superior smirk on your face. At the very least you could dump every speck into your compost heap. All of these things are better than it going down the disposal.

What if you find a huge bag of clothes in the dumpster?  This happens to me ALL the time.  "Eww" you say, "I don't want to wear other peoples old clothes!" Why not? How is this different from getting them from a consignment shop or a yard sale or the Goodwill?

"What if they're dirty?" you ask in horror. So what? You own a washing machine. Wasn't it Stephen King's Doloris Claiborne who said: "Shit washes off"?

A tremendous amount of what my family wears is top quality (Gap, Old Navy, Hillfiger, Land's End, etc) clothing gleaned by me from the local dump.  Most of it is found in mass quantities and is actually CLEAN. Much of it is folded or still on hangers. Some is actually new with tags. No joke.

All this goes for clothes offered by friends and family. If you know for a fact that the stuff won't be the right size or style then politely decline ("Thank you, but I just got a huge bag from [fill in name of imaginary friend] that I havent gone through yet! Thanks anyway!")  If there may be stuff you could use then take it.

Yes, it is a pain in the arse to sort these bags of clothes, but I grab a hamper, a trashbag, and a rubbish bin and sort dierctly into them. Rubbish (torn, stained, hideous) goes in the bin, Not-My-Style/Size goes in the trashbag to go to the thrift store, and the usable ones go into the hamper to be washed.

Don't overlook items that can be cut up for craft projects like quilts, or made into rags.  I always slice the buttons off of trashed garments to put in my replacement button cache.

What if you find a piece of furniture, are offered a box of kitchen stuff, or see a pile of scrap wood by the road? Again, assuming you have room to store these things, they are ALL expensive and useful. Even if you only find ONE tupperware lid in that box of kitchen items that fits one of yours, you will still have gained. AND you can take pride in knowing that by your sending the rest to the thrift store, you've done some excellent good-for-our-planet recycling.

All for a few minutes of your time.

Take the freebies. You never know what you might find.

What's the best freebie you have every gotten? Was it given or did you find it? Leave a comment and share the story!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:16 am   4 comments


At 8:28 am, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I rarely turn down free stuff, unless I KNOW I can't use it (my MIL offered us sleeping bags that belonged to Mr. Chili and his brother in the 70s, for example, and I suggested she bring them to the Goodwill instead). I don't take things just for the sake of taking them, but I also don't turn my nose up.

At 8:30 am, Blogger Bikini said...

When we moved into our house, the previous owners had left a small pile of furniture they wanted to have taken to the dump. We told them we'd take care of it, since it included an outdoor patio furniture set (which we spray painted and did a little spot welding to make it like new), and a big dresser mirror (which I've repainted to go in Bloomer's room). They also left a cubicle-like desk setup in one of the bedrooms which we disassembled and used to make most of our workshop tables (which I've then used to reupholster and refinish other bits of furniture),

At 8:38 am, Blogger MrsEvilGenius said...

I wanted to put this in the post but couldn't figure out where: All the stock sales that i attend also have "junk" for sale. There will be everything from farming equipment to household stuff. Well one day there was this big box of really crappy crap (that no one would even bid on) left over. I hesitated but, at the finish, took it home.

Amongst the do dads and frou frou crap stuffeses was a cup and saucer - made in 1964 - of my own china pattern. Perfect condition.

Needless to say, I've never left a box behind at the sale if they'll give them to me!

At 2:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothin' I hate more than shoppin' for clothes (esp. shoes, but don't get me started there), so I take happily all that I am offered in the way of "hand-me-downs" (perhaps I'm used to this as the baby among three kids?), and take what works, sending the rest on to a thrift store. :-) Unlike you, I even take stuff that fits but which I don't like, just to wear while workin' in the yard. One massive entanglement with poison ivy/oak (as we so often see here in the South), and out it goes. ;-)

Also, as far as "washin' shit away," I prefer to use laundromats for those initial "from the bin" washin's. Then my own wash after. YMMV. ;-)

I've also taken in furniture "left behind" by various house-mates early in my life. I once gave my parents a nice wing-back chair (recovered by them many years ago), which became my mother's fav chair in her slower, more sedate, rather senior years. :-)

Also once found a set of two cups/saucers and four dessert plates from my late husband's mother's china pattern (Meissen) at Goodwill. Brought him a LOT of smiles every time we had coffee at breakfast while using them, given that he'd last seen them in Vienna in 1939. :-)

I still smile at the memory.... :-)

Recycling is only a GOOD thing. Do it!


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