Saturday, 24 July 2010


I won't assume that everyone knows what upcycling is, so basically, it's taking something old, unloved, or not quite right, and re-using it to make something new and useful. It's recycling without having to send it off somewhere else and wait to get it back as your next milk bottle.
You can do it with anything, recover an old worn out chair, refashion some clothing, turn empty tins into useful pen holders, camp cookers, or food storage tins.
Really when it comes to upcycling the sky is the limit, but don't take my word for it, just Google it, you'd be amazed by how many people have created so many different things! Some people have even made a livelihood out of upcycling vintage goods, even to the point of calling themselves the garbologists wife.

If you can't sew, then upcycling is a great way to learn, you source fabric (garments) from op shops and if you have a massive disaster it hasn't cost you much, and once you've got your sewing mojo going you'll probably be able to save past disasters and turn them into something cool and useful too!

A friend of mine demonstrates why not being afraid to just have at something you don't really love is totally worth it, check out her ape to great transformation.

While upcycling is a cheap way to get what you need, it's also great for the environment, we are such a throwaway society these days, and with the bulk of the items we purchase here in good ole NZ being produced in sub standard working conditions over in China, stepping out of the consumerism culture and embracing recycling is just sensible.

Along with the whole upcycling theme, don't forget freecycling just use the search to find your local group, it's an easy way to get rid of stuff you don't need, and find stuff you do.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Bulk Buying

One way to possibly save money is to buy in bulk, I say possibly because sometimes it's more expensive, especially in the supermarket, so it pays to shop around and do your maths. I'm always made grumpy when I discover it's more expensive to buy two smaller packets than one large one, twice the packaging is not environmentally friendly and I fail to see how it can cost the manufacturer less.
One good place to buy in bulk and reduce your packaging is Bin Inn they let you take your own clean empty containers in and fill them, and on a whole the bulk bin goods at your average Bin Inn are cheaper than the same products found in a supermarket bulk bin.
If you live in a big city you'll have more choices, but if you don't then never fear, with the wonders of the internet and free shipping you can still bag a bargain.
Namaste lets you order online, and if you are organised and buy up a few months worth at a time then you can get free shipping, which makes it even cheaper than driving around several shops sourcing everything you need. I'm sure there are other shops like this, if you know of one please let me know!
Bulk buying when things are on special is tempting, but be sure you are buying something you need, rather than deciding it would be nice to have just because it's cheap, and do check the same products from other brands aren't cheaper, supermarkets are tricky with their marketing and you'll often find that while they have a big name brand on special, the regular price on a budget brand makes the budget brand the one to buy.
Because supermarkets are all about trying to make you impulse buy, the best way to avoid the temptation is eat before you shop, shop to a list (and a meal plan!), and try and make it a once a month stock up - get your fruit and veges from a vege shop, and invest in a bread maker or a stand mixer with a dough hook to make your own bread - you can buy yeast in bulk much cheaper than the small containers they sell at the supermarket. Regular dashes out to the supermarket always end in extra purchases and are a money gobbling trap not to fall into.

Storing your bulk purchases is also important, if you are going to buy up in bulk then you don't want to be buying short dated stock unless you intend to use it in something else or it is freezable. Even flour will go rancid if kept too long, so do a bit of research and find out the best way to store your goods and how long you can expect them to last.
Dry staples such as rice, beans and pulses should keep almost indefinitely as long as they are kept in airtight, dry, rodent and insect proof containers, so investing in some good storage containers before you stock up is a good idea.
Of course you can also share with other people, so even fresh fruit and veges can be taken advantage of without leaving you in the position of having to freeze or preserve more than you need.
On the whole buying up in bulk makes sense, and if you can't use all of it then organise yourself and some friends or neighbors and start a co-op to share the bounty.
If you've got any bulk buying tips please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Frugal Journey

I decided it was time to really look at how we spend our money, and although I already have a blog on upcycling and vegan cooking, I wanted one that addressed local cost saving ideas, bulk purchasing, garden produce sharing, minimalist living, and all the other frugal living ideas I can think of.

I guess the first thing I need to ask before buying something is, is that a want, or a need, because if I just want it, I don't NEED it!