How to Avoid Buying Stuff in 2019 – Updated 24th Nov 2019

I’m famous! Well not quite. To be more accurate my black bin waste is. On Monday the 14th of Jan Claire Byrne Live, a current affairs programme on our national channel RTE, did a segment on waste reduction and my wee bag of black-bin waste was held up for all to see.  I also got to speak about how I reduce my waste along with 3 fellow zero wasters. I got a lot of positive feedback on my contribution from friends, family and the programme managers, which is lovely and I hope it means that there’ll be more zero waste items on mainstream media.

Being my own harshest critic I can’t bring myself to watch it just yet but if you’d like to see the clip you’ll find it on the RTE Player here. Not sure if people outside of Ireland can access it.  So between this segment and my appearance on RTE news in 2017 talking about my brown bin (compostable waste) I’m thinking of changing my name to the waste queen!

Now back to this week’s blog post. Why is it that January feels like the longest month financially? Even though we don’t participate in mass consumerism at Christmas time there is still a lot of expense and some years it feels like that January paycheck is never going to drop. Perhaps the best way to avoid this pinch point is to avoid buying where you can.

My generation are so used to owning stuff that even the idea of streaming music and not owning a CD was a bit of a wrench for us. The younger generation don’t seem to have the same attachment and are quite happy to keep their money for experiences instead. I think we could learn a thing or two from them. Here are some useful resources to help you avoid buying stuff in 2019.


Avoid buying a Car by

  • using public transport
  • cycling or walking
  • using joining a car share scheme like Go Car or Yuko
  • using lift share service like Carpool or Liftshare


Avoid buying a Bike by


Avoid buying a Boat (yes really!) by


Avoid buying Clothes by


Avoid buying Toys by


Avoid buying Holiday Accommodation by


Avoid buying Books by

  • using the local library
  • sharing with friends and family
  • using little libraries
  • checking out if your local cafe or hostel has a ‘take one, leave one’ book shelf
  • visiting your local recycling centre. Some centres, like the one in Bray, Co Wicklow, collect books and offer them to citizens for free
  • downloading free audio books from websites like those listed here or from from your library via Borrow box


Avoiding buying DVD’s by

  • subscribing to Netflix
  • renting movies off SKY


Avoid buying Spare Parts by

  • printing spare parts at your local library using templates from sites like Thingverse


Avoid buying Homeware by

  • asking friends and family for duplicate (every house has them)
  • reusing plastic takeaway containers as tupperware
  • reusing jars as take-away coffee cups, or vases or to store food
  • picking up things from Freecycle pages & groups and the free section on


Avoid buying Garden Equipment by

  • making your own compost and if you don’t have enough compostable waste get more on Sharewaste
  • joining your local GIY group and swap seeds and seedlings
  • collecting seeds from parks and gardens (remembering to ask permission first)
  • picking up things from Freecycle pages & groups and the free section on
  • dumpster diving. I have a beautiful orchid that I rescued from skip!


Avoid buying Food by

  • joining Olio and connecting with people looking to rehome extra food


Avoid buying Training by



PS – You might also be interested in my posts Six Weeks towards Zero Waste and Savvy Sustainability

9 thoughts on “How to Avoid Buying Stuff in 2019 – Updated 24th Nov 2019

  1. Hi Elaine,

    Well Done – you’re such an inspiration. All four of you were just brilliant on Claire Byrne Live. Going to have to make a real effort this year, it was another woman who inspired me to use cloth nappies years ago so you’re inspiring me now to get zero wasting seriously.

    By the way, where I live in Bray, the local recycling centre has an ongoing supply of books for free and regularly has to throw out skiploads of extra books. Sad but true.

    With best wishes, Jill


    • Thank you so much for those lovely words. I’m blushing!

      We’ll done on using the cloth nappies. I only switched on to zero waste when I was past the nappy stage. When I think of all those disposables I sent to landfill, eek!

      Go slowly with your changes. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed. And do post on my Facebook page if you’ve any questions.

      Thanks also for tip on books at Bray Recycling centre. I’ll edit the post to include it.



  2. Thanks for sharing your ideas – I must admit I’ve been thinking about ways to travel without using my car so much recently. Even just cutting out some of the shorter journeys initially and switching to using a bike can help with consuming less and being more eco friendly. I don’t have much space so am considering investing in a fold down bike so it doesn’t take up a lot of storage space!


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