All The Things You Can Do … INSTEAD Of Buying Something New! … Your Complete Guide To Getting Stuff In Los Alamos

Beanie’s Bike Shop co-owner Rhiannon Laakso-McIntyre poses with her boss, Beanie, and the drill press gifted to them through the Buy Nothing Los Alamos Facebook group. Laakso-McIntyre and her partner Ryan McIntyre are fulfilling a 10-year dream to begin making custom bike frames with the help of several pieces of equipment donated by the community. Remember, Los Alamos has many excellent repair shops to keep your good old ‘stuff’ running! Courtesy/ZWLA

From Los Alamos County’s *Zero Waste Team:

Buying new stuff these days is fraught with difficulties and potential for disappointment such as supply-chain delays, inflated costs, poor quality, and environmental and social impacts.

Buying new material goods cost us money and time; it also takes a huge toll on our planet.  New stuff often comes with a large environmental cost in materials, water, fuel, labor (often in poor conditions), and excess packaging that results in waste.

Perhaps the biggest impact, however, is on the climate. All material goods take energy to make, which usually produces greenhouse gasses and warms the earth. The glass I’m drinking out of right now took fuel to mine raw materials, energy to refine them, electricity and/or natural gas to melt and cast, and packaging and fuel to ship. Much of our household carbon footprint is tied directly to our own consumer behavior. Current data indicate that consumption of material goods may contribute as much as 12 percent of Los Alamos’ greenhouse gas emissions (see Los Alamos Resiliency, Energy and Sustainability Task Force Final Report).

Thankfully with simple planning and creative thinking, we can fulfill our needs for “stuff” while minimizing impacts. Los Alamos has a wealth of resources that will get you what you need (or want) while consuming less, reducing waste, saving money and making new friends.

Let’s look at what you might do when you find that you need or want something:

  • Rethink/Reduce/Refuse: First, Rethink. Ask if you really need this thing or are you about to spend money on “retail therapy” for something you can live without? Can you Reduce the amount of clutter and waste in your life by not buying this thing? Can you Refuse to keep marching along on the “Consumer Treadmill” (and save money!) by making a different choice?
  • Repair: Did something break or need repair? While replacing it with a new thing may (or may not) be quicker and cheaper, you may end up with something you like less, or that may not last as long.
    • We have several excellent repair companies in Los Alamos– requests to find repair help are always answered on the Shop Local Los Alamos AKA Keep it Local – Los Alamos Facebook (FB) group.
    • If you want to take a stab at DIY repair, the internet especially, YouTube, and Pinterest are an incredible exhaustive resource for instructions!
  • Reuse: Perhaps it can’t be fixed; RIP beloved item. Or you need something “new” (to you). The options here are vast, including:
    • Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales (in-person and online), and online resale are all choices to find this new to you item. Skip the fast fashion stores; thrifting is the new black when it comes to clothes. You can find pretty much everything else you might need through one of these options. Even high-end fashion and electronics can be found at significant savings. Check Facebook groups, listings in the paper, Google “used …” or “refurbished …”, and give new life to used things!
    • Seed/Plant Swaps:  Growing your own food is fun, nutritious, and sustainable. Los Alamos has several seed and plant swaps each year or ask on the local gardening Facebook groups.
    • The EcoStation has a “Reuse Area” where reusable items can be dropped off and picked up.
    • Don’t forget re-gifting! Pass that gift along to someone else if it doesn’t work for you. Wrapping paper, gift bags and ribbons can be saved and reused too!
  • Recycle/Repurpose: It takes a little more creativity and time but can you build something out of materials you already have or can get? Check the internet for instructions and get busy!
  • And last, but perhaps the very best: Sharing! Can you borrow or share something that someone else has? Tools are a great thing to share. My neighbor down the street has a huge workshop and happily lends us tools. We’ve also borrowed items through the Buy Nothing FB group. See about getting hand-me-downs from other parents for your new baby or older child. It’s a great way to meet people, use things that we only need temporarily, and don’t have space to store.

These are just a few of the ways our Zero Waste Team has found to live the Good Life with Good Stuff without buying new. It not only saves us money and prevents environmental harm; it also helps us become more self-reliant, build community, and send less waste to the landfill.

Share your favorite experience, tips, and solutions to avoid buying new stuff on the Los Alamos County Environmental Services Facebook.

For more information, check out the Los Alamos County Environmental Services webpage at For those with questions or concerns, contact Environmental Services at 505.662.8163 or

Zero Waste Tip: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Get FREE STUFF through Facebook groups like Buy Nothing Los Alamos, NM and Freecycle. I have seen everything from half-used bottles of detergent and moving boxes to furniture and drill presses given away on these sites. And beer! Plus, you get to meet your community and help them clear clutter from their lives!

* Zero Waste Team: The Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) and Environmental Services Division (ESD) formed the Zero Waste Team to educate the community on: 

  • reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and 
  • conserving energy and water. 

Comprising community volunteers and Los Alamos County employees, the team achieves the ESB and ESD charge through printed and digital messaging that is shared through traditional media sites, social media, and brochures. Moreover, the Zero Waste team members work with individuals and organizations, such as restaurant owners, businesses, schools, and residents, to incorporate these best practices to reduce and conserve into daily routines. To join or contact the Zero Waste team, contact

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