conscious consumption


“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a slogan used by Americans in the 1940s to conserve for the war effort.

My grandmother was the absolute queen of this! My sister and I were fascinated by the multi-colored bar of soap in her bathroom, which was made from bits of melted and molded leftover soap.

Not a bit of food went to waste in her house. She made fantastic vegetable soup, but each batch was different depending on the leftovers used to make it.

Wisdom from this era is trending again. With some conscious effort, you can reduce your product consumption by using every last bit of the products you buy. You’ll save money and give the planet a little help too.

Here are a few tips to help you squeeze the most out of things you buy, and make you aware of things you might use that you don’t really need and can live better without.

Out squeeze used-up tubes


Cut tubes of lotion, shampoo, and toothpaste in half when they are close to empty. You’ll get a few more applications than throwing them away when more can’t be squeezed out. Make the cut diagonally on the tube so it’s easier to use up both ends.

An added bonus is that some plastic tubes can be recycled after this because you can rinse them. Just check the recycling number on the tube to make sure it is accepted at your facility.

Dilute that last bit

You’d be surprised at how many more uses this one easy habit will give you from your products. When liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener bottles are almost empty, stretch them for a few more loads by adding some water and shaking.

This also saves water when you rinse the bottles for recycling because they are seriously empty. Make a habit of doing this to shampoo and body wash bottles as well. This gives me validation to buy the good stuff because I’ll use every drop! It also works for salad dressing. Add a little milk to almost-empty creamy dressings, or oil to vinaigrette dressings to use up that last hard-to-get bit.

Make the most of makeup


A small makeup brush will get you a lot more uses out of the bottom of lipstick and liquid eye makeup tubes. When lipstick gets too low to apply, use it as blush. Just a small bit each day from the same used-up tube has lasted a full year and kept me from buying blush.

Avoid produce waste

Before heading to the grocery to restock, take stock of what needs to be used in your pantry or fridge and plan your menu accordingly. Soups, salads, and stir-fry are great ways use up leftover produce.

Make use of your freezer to avoid waste. Not all produce freezes well, but some freezes better when prepared with an end in mind. Some websites let you to type in the ingredients you have on hand, and will match them with recipes. Check the recommended sites at the end of this post to find the best way to salvage what you have.

Un-foil baked potatoes


Skip wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil when baking. This allows the skin to get crispy, which is my favorite part because it tastes like a homemade potato chip.

Clean the potato with a vegetable brush, then puncture the skin several times with a fork. Rub olive oil and sea salt on the potato and bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 400°. I usually bake six at a time for one hour.

Electricity is a consumable product as well, and minor changes in your routine can help conserve it. Appliances that heat up are huge energy hogs. Preheating the oven is often unnecessary. Likewise, turning off the oven several minutes before the timer goes off allows enough heat to finish cooking most recipes.

When it comes to buying stuff, I much prefer quality over quantity and buying less often helps me do that. These are just a few tips that I’ve found on my journey to a more minimal lifestyle.

Please check back as I will add more to this post, and feel free to share any tips you have in the comments.

Helpful Links

Avoid produce waste Living Well: 11 Secrets of Properly Freezing Produce by Gabrielle Blair

Enter ingredients to find recipes

6 thoughts on “conscious consumption”

  1. Thanks David, you and Debbie are doing great with Kentucky to Cali as well! Lots of fun adventures I look forward to reading!

  2. But is using the oven for an hour worse than another method of cooking potatoes, like the microwave? I read somewhere that the microwave was actually the best way to cook most vegetables because the faster you cook them the more nutrients are left.

  3. I’ve also heard that the microwave changes the composition and nutrients of food for the worse. I do use the microwave for various things, including baked potatoes (although they taste better cooked in the oven!), but I wonder what it does to food. I don’t know. Just a question. At any rate, I like your blog. I’ve always been frugal and try to save money; I’ve just gotten into decluttering this past year so that I can move to a smaller house and be debt free. It feels freeing to get rids of lots of stuff!

  4. Hi Vicki, thanks for visiting! Good luck on your goal to declutter and become debt free. I’m finding there are so many benefits to living with less stuff, but am still working on it as well!

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