Stop! Don't Buy That!

I ride the anti-consumption train. I question each and every purchase. Do we really need it? Is there a less expensive, better, or different solution? Can it be found used? I prefer to replace when items when they are broken, obsolete, and cannot be repaired.

Bottle holder turned soap holder

On my anti-consumption train along with we don’t really need it and find it used are find it for free and fix it.  Finding free items or fixing something is another way to not consume and save money, extend the life of stuff, and often find creative ways to make something work.

107’s free and fix-it list for the last 30 days:

1. Fence gate. The gate was falling down. Dale and I shopped for a new gate—it was the wrong size and would need to be deconstructed and rebuilt—so Dale repaired the gate, yet again, using hardware on hand. Cost: $0

Repaired fence gate

2. Soap dispenser. The second outdoor sink is so small that a bottle of soap falls off the edge—landing in the asparagus bed—so we needed to find a way to contain the bottle. We did a quick look search online and the soap dispenser we liked that would fit in the space was $24.99. Less expensive plastic ones wouldn’t last too long outside in the sun and weather. Dale innovated and repurposed a bike bottle holder that works perfectly. Cost: $0

3. 5-gallon buckets. We use 5-gallon buckets for so many things: compost collection in the kitchen, water catchment in the bathroom, diluting compost tea, hauling garden stuff around, and the list goes on. We like to find used buckets at local shops for free. New buckets for carrying compost and outdoor sink water catchment. Cost: $0

 55-gallon barrel dreaming of catching water off the hen house roof

55-gallon barrel dreaming of catching water off the hen house roof

4. Rain barrel. We are going to add rainwater collection to our hen house and needed a 55-gallon barrel or two. We were able to source the barrel for no additional cost from a local shop. Cost: $0.

5. Compost bins. As our composting strategies have evolved over the years, so have our compost containment systems. We were able to go pallet wrangling and find enough pallets to revamp our compost set up.  Old bed slats from the alley were used to fill in the gaps on the pallets. Cost: $0

Pallets getting ready to become the new compost bins!

6. Valve boxes. A greywater set up required valve boxes to protect the outlet valves—a call to a friend resulted in a stack of 1-gallon pots and alley hopping resulted in a large emitter box to protect the region valves. Cost: $0

7. Fence. Fences seem to be an evolving, changing garden element . We have a dog, Roxy, and she loves to be in the garden. Over the years I have built fences out of branches and logs to prevent her being able to pass through parts of the garden…the asparagus bed was in dire need of better fencing. The removal of the two trees in the front garden meant all the branches and the trunks could be repurposed as a fence for the asparagus bed. Cost: $0

8. Books. I think that it is important to include that local libraries contain free books! A lifetime of learning available with a library card for no additional cost. I use my library nearly every week. It’s a terrific resource. It's also a great way to preview books before committing to purchasing a new book. Cost: $0


  • Your shed, garage, closet, or other storage area might have items that can be repurposed
  • Someone else's storage area might have items that can be repurposed
  • Talk to people about what you are trying to do and perhaps they will share a better, cheaper, or creative solution you haven't considered
  • Local library
  • Local shops what carry bulk goods, bakeries, delis, and restaurants may have buckets and barrels that can be repurposed