Reuse / Upcycle

The Paralysis of Getting Rid of Things Correctly

We are currently clearing out our guest room to make way for baby and it has brought up a phenomenon that I don’t think I am the only one to have encountered.

It is the fear of disposing of/getting rid of items correctly.

If it were up to K, he would either throw everything out or haul it all to Goodwill. No questioning whatsoever.

I can’t handle that.

From the odd things like the collection of free fridge magnets we have acquired from our insurance agent to half-used Christmas candles to the normal stuff we just no longer had a use for, I wanted to make sure each went to the right place once they left our home.

For the most part, the reason we still had all of these odd things was that I was waiting to figure out what to do with them. Sometimes I figured it out and sometimes I didn’t, but they stayed in our home longer than necessary and it was causing me a lot of stress as we wait for the baby’s arrival.

I figured out what to do with our mattress and got it recycled. I used Facebook Marketplace and my local Buy Nothing group to get items into the hands of people who want and need them for free. Those half-used Christmas candles got picked up by someone in that group! So did old Amazon Alexas, a Roku, underbed storage containers, an old backpack, an old crockpot, a desk lamp, a fruit bowl, headbands, two purses, an old Fitbit, tools, and a bunch of personal care products.

 

Utilizing the Buy Nothing Groups meant that my stuff wasn’t automatically sent to the giant truck that sits outside the Salvation Army to be sorted and possibly purchased down the road. My sheets, bed skirt, and duvet cover immediately got a second life, along with many other items!

We did have to institute a rule that if things aren’t sold or picked up within 2 weeks of posting, the items will be donated. That way we could keep the flow of removing items and they weren’t just sitting around until I went crazy.

There were also things that didn’t get figured out and I had to let go of it. That collection of fridge magnets needed to go and I had to begrudgingly toss them in the trash.

It has been hard and has taken a bit longer than necessary, but I am glad I took the time to make sure things went to a good home.

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Have you ever made DIY beeswax wraps? Any recommendations?

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.

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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!

 

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.

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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.

 

 

An Easy Way to Secondhand Shop: thredUP

For the most part, I do a pretty good job of avoiding the temptations of shopping for new clothes. I don’t wander the mall for fun, or go window shopping, and I have unsubscribed from alluring marketing emails.

Sometimes I succumb to my desires and I end up trolling websites, adding things to my cart, feeling bad about it, and then never returning to purchase it.

I try and keep a list of items I am specifically looking for so I don’t get swept away by something trendy and end up impulse shopping.

Back to where I mentioned feeling bad about shopping, this is important. I am fully aware of all of the environmental and social costs associated with purchasing new clothing (water, resources, labor, shipping, etc.), which makes randomly purchasing pieces really hard for me (but just to be clear, I still do purchase new clothing).

Enter thredUP, a humongous repository of secondhand clothes filterable by size, brand, color, you name it! The problem I find with shopping for secondhand clothes in physical stores is sorting through what you are looking for. It takes time and patience.

With thredUP you can search specifically for what you are looking for and also create alerts when say a Madewell cardigan is added. That’s how I ended up with the cardigan on the right.

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Two J. Crew cashmere sweaters and a Madewell cardigan for much less $$$

I created my search and then waited for the right one to come along, but since there is only one of each item (usually), you need to act fast! By the time I checked my email alert, someone had already added it to their cart. An item can stay in someone’s cart for a specified amount of time and if it is not purchased it is opened back up. If you really like an item, you can check that you will auto-buy if didn’t end up getting purchased.

It was really easy and I used that feature to get my Madewell cardigan. I also set alerts for certain brands I am fond of, which is how I found the two cashmere J. Crew sweaters on the left. I wanted a cashmere J. Crew sweater but they retail for over $90. This one on thredUP was new with the tags still on for half the price. It is warm, cozy, and I love it.

A handful of my wardrobe has come from thredUP and I intend to add more pieces along the way. My coworker recently stopped by my office and asked if I had used thredUP before and my response was something like, “Yes, I have a bunch of clothes from there, this J. Crew sweater I am wearing is from thredUP! Oh wait, so is this Ralph Lauren skirt! I am wearing an entirely secondhand outfit!”

All in all, I recommend thredUP. I have not used other secondhand shopping sites like Poshmark yet but plan to take a look. I am on the hunt for a white denim jacket!

Do you have a place you love to secondhand shop? Let me know!

This post is not sponsored by thredUP, I just like their site and want to share! 

I Paid Someone To Fix The Hole in My Jeans

I have lofty goals sometimes and try to fix things that are in need of repair.

The key word is “try” because it is been proven that I am not a skilled seamstress as outlined in this past post. Luckily, I received a basic sewing machine class for Christmas and am on my way to improving my sewing skills a bit.

My attempt to patch the hole in my jeans failed miserably and I ended up hoarding that pair until I could turn them into housing insulation.

Since then, I recently had an older pair of jeans rip a hole in the crotch while I was doing an impersonation of an Olympic curler (yes, you read that right). As I glided into a deep lunge, I immediately knew my pants were done for.

But like last time, I held on to this pair because I knew there was a way to bring them back to life even if it wasn’t fixed by me.

A couple of weeks later, while walking down the street, I noticed a storefront that advertised denim repair and thought I would give it a shot. So I brought them over to Mildblend Supply Co, paid $25, and a week later had fully repaired jeans.

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Where is the fixed hole? It is hard to tell!

Twenty-five dollars seems like a lot for just fixing a hole, but its cheaper than buying a new pair of quality jeans.

According to the employee who was sifting through all the repaired jeans to find mine, their store is one of the only ones in the Midwest that has a darning machine (check it out on their Instagram). They did an amazing job. Can you even tell where they fixed it?!

Given that the probability of me ripping my jeans is pretty high, I foresee going back there again.

In Chicago and have hole-y jeans (that aren’t supposed to have holes, not those trendy ripped ones)? Then check them out!

 

 

How Facebook Can Help With Secondhand Shopping

My love for Craigslist has not waned, but I have found a new place to add to my arsenal for buying items I need and selling items that don’t “spark joy.”

It came about when I started to sell our wedding decorations post-wedding. I posted lanterns and table numbers to Craigslist but heard that Facebook Marketplace was now the place to buy and sell. So, I tried it out.

In terms of selling, it is pretty easy. Just post your item and buyers can reply via Facebook Messenger. You can mark items as pending and then as sold once you have completed the transaction, providing a rating to your buyer. The downside is that Marketplace provides an “Ask for Details” button that automatically messages the seller asking if the item is available. From my experience, buyers like to use that button A LOT. I mean, if it is still posted, and not marked as pending, it is still available…

Buyers can also send customized messages about items and save items to come back to later. You can search specific areas, within a certain radius, as well as by category.

I cross posted all of my wedding decor on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I got the most responses to my items from Marketplace, and that’s where the majority of my sales came from. Seller beware though, while I did get more responses, the responses were a lot of unnecessary questions, beyond asking about its availability. People asked where I was located, if they could only buy specific items of the lot, and what dimensions where. All this information had already been included in the post’s details.

In addition to Marketplace, I have joined a number of community selling groups on Facebook, like Chicago, Buy, Hustle, and Trade, and Wedding & Party Recyclers Group.  I also am apart of a neighborhood group, so it is likely there is a group near where you live too.

Another group I am a member of on Facebook is the Chicago Buy Nothing group, where members post items that are available for someone else to take, or where members post items they are searching for. I posted moving boxes and supplies after we moved this summer and was glad someone else could use those items.

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I was just glad these boxes didn’t end up in the landfill.

The downside of using Facebook and Craigslist, of course, is having to field questions and coordinate with buyers when you could just drop your unwanted items off at Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I see myself adding Marketplace to my repository of places to search for items I am looking for locally. The opportunity to be able to pick up a sought after item from a neighbor down the street, for less than it would cost new, is a win-win for me.

Have you used Marketplace? What are your thoughts? Do you have any other apps or sites that you swear by?

Disclaimer: This post is not in any way affiliated with or sponsored by Facebook. 

Oh Hey There 2019

And just like that, it is 2019.

I am kind of pretending that time has not moved so fast and have not made any resolutions for the new year.

Honestly, I do not need another to-do list.

Last year, I hoped to accomplish the following resolutions.

2018 goals

Here is how I did based on the following scale:

Neah= didn’t even happen

Meh= kind of did it

Yay= accomplished!

1.) Buy in bulk: neah

This just didn’t happen. Will work on this for 2019.

2.) Reduce clothing purchases: yay!

I did make a real conscious effort to reduce my clothing purchases. For instance, I went to a clothing swap, borrowed white dresses for wedding-related events, and only bought a pair of pants and socks for my honeymoon.

3.) Be conscious of what goes in the trash: yay!

I am overcome with legitimate sadness whenever I see things being thrown out that shouldn’t be. It has even rubbed off on K, which is amazing. To bring my lifestyle into our wedding, we had composting and used less wasteful wedding vendors. We collected 227 pounds of food waste in 2018 and I finally worked up the courage to approach the subject of having a compost pick up service in our office. Also when we moved over the summer, I made sure that boxes, bubble wrap, and plastic went to the right places.

4.) Bike to work: meh

So I did bike to work once. I was a little terrified, especially because after I got to work, I found out a cyclist had died the day prior after gotten hit by a truck. Needless to say, I didn’t do it again and now its a bit cold…

5.) CSA Round 2: meh

While we did get another CSA share for the summer, I cannot say that we did a better job of trying to get through all of our produce before it went bad. I did go through a phase of freezing a lot of the veggies, so that was a plus!

6. Remember to say no to straws: meh

Sometimes I remember, but most of the time I don’t. Our biggest win in this category was asking the bartenders at our wedding to not provide straws unless our guests asked for one.

Overall, I am pretty content with how we did in 2018.

2019 will be some more of the same.

What are your plans for 2019?

Batteries Can Be Tossed

I often get asked what to do with stuff.

What do I do with plastic bags since they can’t go in the recycling blue bin? Where do I take pillows? And sheets and towels? Textiles that can’t be used? Salvation Army or Goodwill?

Recently my dad asked me if he has to recycle alkaline batteries, and not long afterward, a friend texted me the very same question.

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Back in the day, your regular TV remote battery couldn’t be put into the municipal trash because they contained harmful mercury that could leach into waterways. Nowadays, batteries do not contain mercury, which is good.

In Chicago, alkaline batteries are accepted in the garbage cart, while rechargeable batteries are considered hazardous waste due to nickel cadmium and must be recycled accordingly.

These batteries can now safely go in the trash/landfill, which isn’t necessarily that great.

Yes, they can be thrown out (like a lot of things), but you can also go one extra step and find a place that recycles them. You can look up where to recycle your batteries here, and for the most part, it is going to depend on where you live and what your town or city collects.

So check it out and do something with that pile of dead batteries in your junk drawer.

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