Sunday, February 2, 2014

Going Too Far?

You know how I love my thrift stores and the bargains I find there.  How I especially love finding things that can be used for something other than what they were originally intended for.  I have to question myself this time, was I really going too far?

We go through a lot of bags at the farmers markets.  Some for people to carry their purchases in, (not all customers remember to bring their own bags) and most to contain the produce in while it's out on display.  Some of the produce can be bundled with elastic bands, but others do better in plastic,  especially during the summer when it's warm.  If there is a warm wind blowing through, the greens can wilt quickly when they are exposed to the warm air. Not many customers want to buy wilted greens. The bigger stuff we bundle, and stand them in water, but the smaller stuff, like basil and arugula and salad greens are all in their own plastic bags.  Many of the bigger farm stands sell items by weight, but we sell by the bag or bunch, it just works better for us.  Last year I sent out a request to all my egg customers and received bags and bags of extra plastic bags they had accumulated, and Larry sorted all those out and we hand those out to customers that don't have their own carry bag.  The produce bags, well we have to use new ones for that.  I was lucky a couple of years ago, that a long time customer was moving and was clearing out her stuff, and she had a lot of freezer bags that she was never going to use and she offered them to me.  Previous to that, I had bought a case, four rolls, four thousand bags, but they were now gone.  Last year I bought one roll, $27 for a thousand bags.  

A few weeks ago I found bags of these bags, about 100 in a bunch, brand new, for 25 cents. 


 The top of the outer bag was rolled down and stapled, so at the time I didn't realize quite how long they were, although I don't know if that would have changed my mind or not.  There were five bags of bags, so for $1.25 I had 500 bags.   When I got them home, I decided to cut them shorter, which was really easy to do, I could cut about 20 at a time with sharp scissors.  That way I got rid of the 'Potato' part, and they were about the size I usually use.


I was left with 500 shiny smooth top parts of the bags.  It was eating away at me, I felt like I should be able to use them for something.  I experimented with a stapler, closing off the bottom of those bag parts,  I could make it work, but I didn't really like it.  But then I had an idea.  The next time I went to the thrift store, it was the monthly sale, so for $1.50, I got one of those things that sucks the air out of plastic bags and seals them.  There is a wire inside that heats up and melts the two layers of plastic together as it burns through.  


It worked like a charm to seal the cut edge!  I could do 6 or 7 a minute.  And the seal is strong.  That's a pound and a half of marmalade oranges in there (speaking of my next job....)  There is writing just on one side of the bag, so I'll put that to the back when I put the produce out to sell.


I know, time is money, but I did it while I was sat drinking a cup of coffee and resting.  So far I've cut and sealed 200 of the 500 bags, so I'll leave the other 300 in case I want to cut them a different size.  Potentially for $2.75 I will have 1000 bags in two different sizes.
  I'm a frugalista!

I'm sure some people would think this is taking 'frugal' a bit too far.
I'm wondering that myself.


  1. Whatever you can do to cut costs! I used to encourage all my greenhouse customers to bring back their pots so I could disinfect and use them again, I always told them it helped to keep costs down. 1.50 for that sealer was a bargain!! Frugal is okay:)

  2. Hey, frugalist…I think that is really COOL! I'd like to find a sealer like that for that price! You go girl!

  3. I love this, not only did you save money but recycled as well! I am always so pleased when I find a bargain at a thrift store or garage sale...but try to only buy things I truly need.


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