How To Say ‘No’ To Other People’s Garbage

Honestly, that shouldn’t be the title of this post. It really should be:

How To Be Creative + Frugal With Other People’s Garbage

That’s more fitting. Now, I know some of you are probably pissed because I lured you in with this title but in this lies the golden rule of homesteading.

Like any farmer worth a shit, they will never throw anything out, give away anything they might use in the future, and they certainly won’t share it with anyone else. And we all hate those uber frugal, greedy, posessive people. But inside, we’re screaming that we’re just jealous because we want his pile of junk to be our pile of junk!

If your lifestyle includes homesteading, farming, living off the grid, or self-sufficiency — never say, ‘no’ to anything anyone offers you. Here are a few categories of things you will probably be offered by friends, family, other homesteaders, and curbside junkies (my favorite finds). And honestly, they cover all the basics.

But for real, The Beard should be the one writing this article because he is usually the mastermind behind turning ordinary objects into something I could never imagine. But, I hate to tell you, you’re stuck with me. I’m a low level bitch, but at least I’ve learned from the best. So that clearly qualifies my knowledge as top shelf shit.

Food

And so it goes, every family event will be laden with a smorgasbord of food, ranging from smoked gouda wrapped in salmon to every kind of cookie your mother, her mother, and your mother’s neighbor could think of.

Never say no to to-go plates, or buckets for that matter. But I also turn my nose up to unecofriendly products so you better bring your glass containers and jars with you.

Even if you don’t like the food you’re given, someone will like it. The Beard pretty much likes anything and everything. He has no problem with pickles, smoked eggs, or homemade cheesecake. But really who has a problem with cheesecake? I, on the other hand, a Celiac vegan am very hard to please. Not intentionally, but really what can a person like that eat? Lettuce? Celery? Yep. I eat a lot of that shit.

But even if we are handed items that The Beard would not even touch, we have friends and friends of friends that would totally benefit from perfectly good food that just doesn’t match up with our low class taste buds.

For instance, we were given a huge meat and cheese tray that no matter how much The Beard ate, he couldn’t finish it before green, gooey mold decided to creep up on the corners.

And so, we decided to invite some friends over, cut the cheese and meat tray up, along with an endless supply of peanuts — and we were feeding our guests for free. Little did they know.

When all else fails and it can’t be composted, we turn to our animals. Dogs and chickens can definitely put a dent in our food waste. We actually don’t have any food waste going into our garbage can at the end of the week.

On the other hand, we have also been offered and given food that I cannot live without, like I was telling you about that celery and lettuce. Or when The Beard’s aunt and uncle give us zucchini after zucchini, tomatoes that turn dishes into culinary art masterpieces, honey that fuels my baking addiction, and any leftovers they possibly cannot eat anymore of.

Again, never say no to FREE FOOD. You need it. Your body needs it. Your family needs it. And your friends would like it too. Just think, you never have to buy dog treats again because they get food other people would otherwise throw away. Now it just ends up in our backyard in a very different form.

And I’m not saying we feed all that food to our animals. That is hardly the case. That’s a last resort effort to avoid food going into the landfills. Trust me. I never pass up a meal. The Beard knows all too well that I LOVE to eat.

Building Materials

Am I right?! Do you know how many things a homesteader needs to build. An outhouse, their actual house, cabinetry, animal coops and pens, outdoor ovens, just to name a few. Why wouldn’t you load your truck up with free bricks? Or lumber? Or some metal baskets?

You never know what you can turn something into, like an industrial mixer I plan to turn into a hanging light pendant. Free wood, dressers, or entertainment centers found on the side of the road can be turned into chicken/rabbit coops, goat fencing, a garden trellis, or produce storage.

When we first moved to our little acreage, I was always trying to find ways to eliminate our ‘trash’ pile. God it was so ugly! I couldn’t stand to look at it. We hid it behind a camper and then our shop. That is until I found how resourceful that little (or freaking ginormous) pile of shit could be. Garden boxes, more rabbit hutches, chicken coops, raised garden beds, garden fencing, fourth of July decorations, kitchen shelves, coffee tables, dining room tables, dog chew toys. You get the point. I’m getting annoying.

And so I have come to fully accept that there will always be a junk pile when I can once again dig through the rubbish and create something beautiful, well at least functional. Every time — on the homestead — function trumps aesthetics.

I’ve actually been begging The Beard to go garbage picking around the neighborhoods on large garbage day, but he promised me in the summer. You know I’m gonna remind him day in and day out.

Seriously, any building materials can and will be used on your homestead. Especially if money is tight, these resources will save you the most money possible.

Clothing

Ain’t no shame in a hand-me-down thang. I love second hand items, not just at the thrift stores but also clothing handed down from friends and family. They are free, free, free. And I either get to update my wardrobe or at least enhance the necessities on the homestead. Like the wool, flannel jacket my aunt gave me that I store sick chickens in and use to do my daily chores when it’s a little brisk out.

Anything for winter is pretty awesome because honestly, you can’t have enough warm clothing. Boots, hats, gloves, jackets, snow pants. Bring ’em on. And in the summer, t-shirts are great. I’m gonna look like shit anyways so does it really matter if I’m wearing a size S shirt or an XL that I need to tuck into my shorts and they still fall out the bottom? I don’t think so. And we go through t-shirts so fast over here, our closet can’t keep up.

Clothing is really expensive when purchased new or even used sometimes, so any way I can update my dress clothing for free is a win-win for me. Even borrowing shoes or a dress for a special event can really help. There are even companies now that you can rent items for events. Just ask around and save yourself a couple hundred dollars.Your homestead will thank me.

Or Even turn old raggedy shirts and sweats into cleaning rags. Trust me — you’re gonna need them.

If blankets or pillows are offered to you. You better take them and run. Don’t even give them the chance to change their minds. Winter is coming. And winter is a cold bitch. You’re gonna wish you didn’t say ‘no’ to that pillow and blanket.

Garden Clippings

My favorite favorite item to receive for free! But I also love to give some of these too! Only thing is, I have to get a hell of a lot better at gardening before I can give these as gifts. I have a hard enough time keeping plants alive, let alone pruning them to give as gifts.

But seriously, that aunt and uncle I told you about that The Beard has — they have the motherload of clippings or extra plants laying around. Plants laying around, ya not me. I wish I was that good at taking care of plants!

They have given us  mature BLACK RASPBERRY BUSHES. I am so excited to see how they turn out next year. They have also given us tomato plants, herb plants, seeds from their flowering something or others, and endless extra plants that seem to pop up unwanted in their garden. If only I was that lucky to have random fruit and vegetable plants popping up everywhere. Hell, I can’t even get weeds to grow in our garden. So I will gladly take fresh from the garden produce and their clippings.


And so now you know I’m a greedy bitch when it comes to taking things for free. We never say ‘no.’ Yes, I have a blacker thumb that an atomic bomb, but I do have other assets, believe it or not.

We turn those gifts like baking, cooking, dinner, cleaning, or helping move heavy items or intensive labor into our free gifts to others. It’s like a bartering system. Offer what you have in return. Unless it’s a curb alert find — it’s free game and you be as greedy as you like. No shame in our game.

But seriously. Take care of those who take care of you. Otherwise, that would be called a leech and no one likes leeches.

If you haven’t read my article about Mentors on the Homestead, you really should. And these people can be a gold mine for food, clothing, building materials, and garden essentials. Even if they don’t have them or can’t offer them for free, I’m sure they would love to offer their knowledge. Again — just make sure you are returning the favor sometimes.

How do you find free materials for your homestead?

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