I Paid Money To Properly Dispose of My Mattress

That old saggy, squeaky mattress.

Everyone has one or will encounter one eventually.

Ours came from a friend in college. My husband used it for a while post-graduation, then it was our bed when we moved in together, and then it was finally relegated to the guest room when we moved two summers ago.

It has to be at least 10 years old and we tried to cover up the body divets we created with a mattress topper, but this baby is done.

We also don’t have any space for a queen-sized bed anymore because an actual baby is about to take over the guest room.

IMG_20200215_081901

Bye-bye mattress! 

As we purge the items in the guest room to make room for its new inhabitant, I am trying to be very cognizant of where everything is ending up. I could have definitely posted the mattress, box spring, topper, and metal frame on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for an extremely low price or even for free. I also could have put it in the alley and hope someone picked it up before the garbagemen did. It is important to note that most charities do not accept used mattress donations.

All in all, I figured both those options will eventually end with our mattress in a landfill. Sure, handing our old mattress off to someone else will extend its life for a little longer, but what are the chances the person who takes it is going to properly dispose of it when they are done with it?

Probably zero.

So we decided to delay the inevitable and recycle our mattress.

The most annoying part of being a responsible person is that I have to pay for this to occur, but keeping our sad mattress out of the landfill is important to me, so here we are.

The first thing I did was get a handful of quotes from mattress recycling and removal services:

I ended up going with JunkRelief for obvious reasons. It was wonderful for movers to come in and just take all of it away in under 10 minutes. There was no way I was going to be helping anyone get a box spring down a set of winding stairs while pregnant. No way.

All in all, while I am out $145, I don’t feel too bad about it. I am happy it is gone and I am happy it is properly taken care of it.

A Maternity Wardrobe: Options to Not Buy New

You know what is not that fun about being pregnant? Needing to create an entirely new wardrobe around your ever-expanding belly.

Well, some people might like that, but I do not.

Luckily, I have been able to craft my maternity wardrobe in a handful of ways that help keep my own personal impact down.

Borrowing From Others

My cousin and her friends have been accumulating maternity clothing for years and through a number of babies. They kept passing the collection back and forth to whoever was pregnant next.

They were happy to loan me their 3 BINS OF CLOTHES! After doing some sorting based on style and size, I picked out a good start of long sleeve shirts, sweaters, and some pants.

IMG_20191208_111533

A friend who had a baby in 2018 also let me borrow some more clothes from her. Now that I have multiple peoples’ clothes, I had to make a mark on the tag of each to help me remember whose is whose when it is time to give them back.

Buying Secondhand

I love ThredUP normally, so I looked to them for some secondhand maternity styles. I ordered some basics like a few t-shirts, tank tops, a dress, and leggings so far. The dress and leggings still had tags!

IMG_20200203_172917

Given that there is just one of everything it is important to check every once in a while on their ever-changing availability.

Using What I Already Own

For the most part, I am still working in my regular clothes into my wardrobe. I bought some longer tank tops that I can wear under a lot of my shirts to extend them and I have one of those belly bands to keep my pants up. In the beginning, I employed the hair tie trick with my pants.

Unfortunately, as I get bigger it is harder and harder to incorporate my normal clothes. My shirts and sweaters are not long enough and when I wear my regular pants with the belly band, I live in constant fear that the band has ridden up and 1) my unzipped fly is exposed or 2) my bottom is hanging out!

But Also Buying What I Need

This is not to say I have not bought anything brand new. I did get a couple basics (the tanks I mentioned, 2 long sleeves, tights, jeans) and some workout gear (2 tanks, 2 shirts, and 1 pair of leggings), but I consider my purchases to be pretty minimal so far. We shall see what happens when my belly really starts to get big in the third trimester!

Overall

The absolute worst part about buying maternity clothes (whether secondhand or brand new) is you cannot try them on! I literally have no idea what will fit me and basically, all stores that have maternity lines do not carry them in the store, meaning you have to order multiple styles and sizes just to see what works for your body! To add to that, most physical stores do not accept maternity style returns and require returns to be mailed in only.

It is frustrating and annoying and I totally get why leggings are the primary uniform of the pregnant woman.

An Attempt at Beeswax Wraps

Don’t worry. All my posts won’t be about pregnancy and babies from now on.

I finally found the energy and time to tackle a DIY I have been wanting to do. I own a couple pieces of beeswrap as a replacement for plastic cling wrap, but they have been around for a while and are starting to lose their ability to cling to a surface.

While at a craft fair back in November, there was a booth selling local honey and beeswax products, including a nice brick of beeswax.

IMG_20200119_171916

So I bought it, thinking I would try my hand at creating my own.

At first, I was going to run over to Michael’s or Jo-Anne Fabrics and pick up some fabric, but then I remembered The WasteShed here in Chicago. They sell repurposed arts and crafts materials! So I headed over there and scrounged through their fabric scrap bin, leaving with a bunch of options for the low, low price of $2.75.

IMG_20200119_172001

The directions I followed for these beeswax wraps came from Good Housekeeping. I was looking for a tutorial that was easy and did not involve a lot of weird ingredients. For instance, a couple required pine resin and some other stuff you have to find at a specialty store or order. Neah.

So here is what I did:

1.) Wash, Dry, and Iron Your Fabric

Good Housekeeping recommended using 100% cotton, which I was not able to know if I fully achieved since I bought fabric scraps, but I figured I would give it a shot and see what happened.

After washing and drying the fabric pieces, I ended up ironing them because some were pretty crumpled. Otherwise, I would not have done this step, I hate ironing…

2.) Cut Your Fabric

I used pinking shears to keep the ends from fraying, but I am sure you can hem them also. I didn’t really adhere to a specific size and just kind of eyeballed what looked good. You can definitely see that I cannot cut straight either!

3.) Grab A Baking Sheet and Parchment Paper

GH recommends placing the printed side of the fabric down.

IMG_20200119_171925

4.) Cover Fabric in Beeswax

This is where I started to stray from the GH directions because I did not buy beeswax pellets, which apparently are a thing. I had a brick of beeswax that needed to be grated, which took quite some effort and I would not recommend it.

So I grated and grated and grated for what felt like forever and covered the fabric.

IMG_20200119_172447

5.) Pop It in The Oven

It only takes about 4 minutes to melt and then you are supposed to brush the wax around on the fabric, but it seemed I did not use enough wax and there wasn’t any to spread. There also were a lot of spots where I could see that the wax was missing, including the edges.

So I tried again.

IMG_20200119_173917

This time I put my muscles to work and grated a more ample supply of beeswax and made sure to get up close to the edges. This seemed to work better this time around.

6.) Let It Dry

The fabric pieces were pretty cool to the touch once I took them out and tried to brush the wax around. I was able to pick them up and wave them around a bit to initially dry.

Afterwards, I folded the fabric over a wire hanger and hung it on the shower curtain rod to fully dry. This only took a few minutes.

7. Enjoy?

After grating enough wax for three wraps, I was pretty tired, so I decided to give it a break. I am also curious if these will work, so I didn’t want to spend all this time and effort making a bunch and it turns out they didn’t do anything.

They feel right and they look right, but I want to test them out for a bit.

IMG_20200120_085738

Hopefully, they do the job! I will keep you update.

Have you ever made DIY beeswax wraps? Any recommendations?

Food Aversions and Food Waste

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body does a lot of weird things and your stomach and taste buds start to betray you.

For a handful of weeks, I barely wanted to eat anything. Everything was just so unappealing.

With my ever-changing palette, I had to come to terms with something that I do my very best to avoid in my non-pregnant life: wasting food.

Many times I would try to eat some of the lovely home-cooked meals my husband made for me and many times I would poke at it with my fork and end up eating a bowl of Cheerios instead.

I would often be over-zealous and prepare more food than my stomach could manage, leaving a lot left behind. Our compost service benefited the most in the first couple of months.

While I felt pretty guilty that I couldn’t always eat what was put in front of me, I had to learn to accept that this was going to happen. With my hormones all over the map, I couldn’t really control what I wanted to eat one day and not the next.

Luckily, I am now in the second trimester and my appetite has vastly improved. I can eat vegetables again! A miracle!

Global Climate Strike A Big Day For Many Reasons

On September 20th, 2019, I participated in the global climate strike in downtown Chicago.

IMG_20190920_125037_exported_633_1569002269223

I took the L downtown and as I exited the station, I could hear the roar of the march as they were approaching Federal Plaza.

Ascending the steps of the station, my eyes filled with tears as the protest grew louder.

It could have been because it was an extremely moving event.

It could have been because of the frustration of the inaction of our governments.

It could also have been because it was inspiring to see so many people come together to demand action.

But actually, I had free-flowing tears from my eyes because later that afternoon I had planned to take a pregnancy test to confirm what I had already known, that I was going to be bringing a child into this pretty messed up world.

After the strike, I headed back home feeling inspired and tried to put taking the test out of mind. A couple hours later, the test was positive and my entire future changed in an instant.

I am very aware of the argument that the number one way to limit your impact on the environment is to not have children. While I absolutely respect that camp and the people making those decisions, that is not my stance.

We have a short time on this planet and having a child of my own is something that I have always wanted to do. While yes, my child will have an impact on the environment (as we all do), it will be small in comparison to the biggest emitting offenders.

So that is where I have been the past few months: coming to terms with what’s about to happen, preparing financially and mentally and emotionally, and also laying down a lot because being pregnant is really tiring.

 

 

Why Use Towels That Go In The Trash When You Can Use Towels That Can Go In The Washer?

How many rolls of paper towels do you use a year?

We probably only buy 3-4 rolls of paper towels and reserve them for particularly messy situations. I usually forget they are even under the sink.

Otherwise, I have been using a legitimate, real towel for cleanups.

To get to this point, I have stocked our kitchen with lots of actual towels that get washed in the washer instead of tossed in the trash can.

In our small kitchen closet, we have one drawer devoted to “rags” or clean up towels and we keep one hanging underneath the sink. These are basically just old towels, be they old bath hand towels or old dish towels. Certain towels are used specifically for the bathroom and ones for the kitchen.

The second drawer holds cloth napkins and dishcloths. The third has hand and dish towels.

towel laundry.jpg

Having plenty of towels on hand keeps us from having to reach for the paper version, which we keep around for emergency back up.

After the towels are used, I let them dry on the washer door and toss them in the hamper.

A huge pro of using real towels in the kitchen is that it doesn’t necessarily mean more laundry. At the end of the week, usually on Friday or Saturday morning, I collect all the towels from around the house, wash them on hot, and replace them with clean ones.

That’s it.

The bath towels and sheets needed to be washed anyway, so it’s no more work for me, and no additional load of laundry.

We save money and landfill space. Win-win!

 

Patience

If you know me personally, patient most likely wouldn’t be your adjective of choice to describe me.

But I have been thinking lately about patience and that is mostly because I started a new job that I am very very excited about. I graduated 6 years ago and I have been through 4 jobs since then. Some were good and some were not, but I continued to search, to network, and to interview.

I got rejected A LOT. Since 2012, I have applied for 393 jobs and received 60 first-round interviews. That is a success rate of 15%. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I had to be patient. It was worth the wait.

Patience is also an important trait when dealing with any environmental/waste/green tasks. Our society has pushed instant gratification on us. We use something once and then throw it out. We want something new, we buy it right now and get it shipped to our door the next day.

It seems counterintuitive to go against this, and harder, more difficult, and inconvenient, but it makes a bigger impact.

Take an extra two seconds and collect your kitchen scraps for a compost service.

compost bin

Search secondhand services for exactly what you are looking for and sell your items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and ThredUp. Or donate your stuff.

thredup

Fix up what you already have whether it is a chair, jeans, or your dress pants,

alterations

Collect personal care products and plastic bags, save your beyond repair clothing, take in your running shoes to be recycled, and return wire hangers from the cleaners.

credo dropoff1

Grow your own vegetables or join a CSA.

Plants 2

Shave with a safety razor.

safetyrazor4

Take action on things you don’t want like junk mail, mail not addressed you and solicitations.

Old tenant's mail

Choose the slower shipping option.

All of these things take TIME, but I value the outcome more than the time it takes to bring my plastic bags back to the grocery store.

It takes patience to do these things instead of just throwing stuff into the trash can. Sure, that is easier and sure, that is faster.

But properly taking care of what comes in and out of your life is worth the wait.

A Place for Personal Care Products

Unlike some people in the zero waste world, I have not rid my life of all store-bought personal care products. I do still like to use toothpaste…

So does my husband, so anyway here we are.

A while back I heard that clean beauty store, Credo has partnered with TerraCycle to take back personal care and beauty items for recycling.

I have been buying makeup from Credo for a while, long before they opened a physical store here in Chicago. While their products are free of a bunch of nasty chemicals, they don’t do so well on the packaging front.

So when I learned you could bring in your empties (and earn rewards points will doing so!) I started to hoard our floss containers under the bathroom sink. Not going to lie, I have also dug stuff out of the bathroom trash!

credo dropoff1

The bag slowly accumulated deodorant, toothpaste, floss, old makeup, hair gel containers, a lotion bottle and much more.

credo dropoff2

Over the weekend I took my haul into Credo on Damen and asked what they do and do not accept. Turns out basically anything except nail polish, perfume bottles, and hair spray.

So I did have to take my hair spray back home with me and I am still trying to figure out what to do with it. Did you know aerosol cans can explode if crushed when they are not completely empty?! Mine must not be empty because it still makes noise when I press the nozzle.

All in all, I am happy to have a little more space under the bathroom sink and for my old toothpaste tubes to be properly disposed of.

Growing Goodies on Our Balcony

On a dreary day in May (Chicago has had plenty of dreary spring days), I ventured out to the newly opened City Grange garden center to find what I could grow on my balcony.

When we moved into this apartment last summer, I did not make an attempt to grow anything beyond some flowers, but this year I wanted to try growing vegetables and herbs. Even after taking a small space gardening class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was not entirely sure where to start.

Luckily, City Grange is there to help people like me figure it all out. Unlike Home Depot or other garden centers where it is next to impossible to find an associate, and then an associate that actually knows what they are talking about, at City Grange I was immediately greeted and offered assistance. And boy did I need it!

I explained what kind of sun I get, what floor we are on, that we don’t have a hose, and how much space we actually have to grow. After some discussion I left with:

  • Romaine
  • Garlic Chives
  • Kale/Red Kale
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Sorrel
  • Calendula
  • Strawberry
  • Milkweed

Plants 5

I also left with potting mix, seaweed fertilizer, and probably the greatest find of all, a pig watering can.

Not all of my plants were meant for human eating. Milkweed is an important food source for monarch butterflies. I also planted the calendula 1. because they are pretty and 2. because I needed a cross pollinator for my strawberry plant.

My planting vessels ranged from one reused pot from last year, two new self-watering pots from Target, and an upcycled metal pot and basin I got at a garage sale for $3. I drilled some holes into the pot and basin and they were ready to go!

Plants 4

After some time, my little plant babies started to get acclimated to their new home and started growing big and strong (except for the garlic chives, they are not feeling it).

Plants 2

I got my first calendula flower, which looks like a little marigold and a bloom on my strawberry plant.

Plants 3

The cilantro, mint, and oregano have been prolific and I am often harvesting almost every week. I have been drying the oregano and also using it fresh.

plants 1

Almost two months later my plants have been doing amazing, except those darn garlic chives. I have had fresh romaine and sorrel salads, kale in my smoothies, and fresh cilantro on tacos!

This experience has been much better than when I tried to grow herbs from seeds. If you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend checking out City Grange!

When Was the Last Time You Went to The Tailor?

When was the last time you went to get your clothes altered to fit your body?

And no, the last time you went to the tailor/seamstress to get a bridesmaid dress hemmed does not count. That is not the same.

I have blogged a lot about taking care of the clothes we own, by getting them fixed or just plain, old taking good care of them!

One way to take care of the clothes we own, that I think is often overlooked by my age group, is taking clothes to a tailor to be fitted to your own body’s shape and size.

The standard sizes from clothing manufacturers are all over the board anyway. A size 6 in one brand is a size 10 somewhere else and the way we shop online without actually trying on the piece basically guarantees we will end up with clothes we thought would fit but most definitely do not.

Even so, clothes are not made specifically with your measurements in mind, but a tailor or a seamstress can help your ill-fitting clothing become the perfect size!

For instance, I went through a period a couple years ago where I gained some weight and none of my dress pants fit. So I went out and bought some. Fast forward to now, where I have since lost that weight and of course, none of those pants fit. They were so so saggy on me.

I didn’t want to buy another set of pants again and I liked them enough that I decided to get them taken in to fit my current body shape. Two of the pairs I decided I did not want to invest the money in tailoring, so I gave them to a friend. The other two I took down the street to a nearby cleaners. Forty bucks later I had two pairs of pants that fit.

alterations

Previously, I had brought in a skirt I purchased from thredUP and had it taken in. It was great to walk out with a piece of clothing that had been altered just to fit me.

Sometimes it is not worth it to pay for alteration fees. In that case, let go of those clothes for someone else! But if it is a piece you love and a quality one, why not put a couple extra dollars into making it uniquely your size.