Reuse / Upcycle

We Broke Our Microwave and Never Fixed It

Usually, I am always in the pro-fix-whatever-is-broken camp, but in this particular case, I am not so sure.

A month or so ago, we had an incident with the microwave…

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Since we have a tiny kitchen, we have an abnormally tiny microwave. Basically, a heating pad was in there and couldn’t fully spin around, leaving it stuck against the microwave’s wall. That caused a bit of a sparking and singeing episode and the microwave has not been used since.

To avoid any accidental and habitual use, I just unplugged it. At first, it was quite annoying since I was so used to checking the time on it, even though there is a clock right on the wall.

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My morning oatmeal used to be ready in 2 minutes and re-heated dinner was just a few minutes away. Ok, I don’t need to explain to you how a microwave works…

Anyway, now everything gets heated up in the oven or on the stove. I used to grumble about it, but really it doesn’t take that much longer. If I know I need to heat up leftovers in the oven, I just need to remember to turn it on a bit beforehand.

Overall, the re-heating process of any food does not take any more than 15 minutes, but it does create some extra dishes…

Should we even try to fix it? Or just go with the flow of no microwave?

 

 

 

Your Beyond Repair Clothing Does Not Have to Be Destined for a Landfill

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My cousin sent me this text message the other day.

It is a good question and while there are plenty of places in the Chicagoland area where you can bring your gently used clothing, there are not so many places to drop off clothing and textiles that are longer wearable or useful.

The U.S. EPA has found that 85% of all discarded textiles (that’s 12 million tons) are sent to landfills every single year.

USAgain

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USAgain has drop-off collection bins all around the city. They accept clothes, shoes and household textiles (like towels, bedding, tablecloths, etc) regardless of condition.

Usagain chicago locations


Chicago Textile Recycling

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Chicago Textile Recycling provides textile recycling outlets and fundraising opportunities for organizations, businesses, and municipalities. They collect used clothing, shoes, and household items for reuse and recycling, resulting in a diversion of over 2.5 million pounds of waste from area landfills annually.

Unfortunately, they don’t have as many drop-off options as USAgain does within Chicago and Cook County (as in they have zero). There is a drop-off box at their warehouse in Hillside just outside the city and about 20 locations within Lake County.


Patagonia Worn Wear

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Through the Patagonia Worn Wear Program, you can return Patagonia products that are well beyond repair to be recycled it into something new, or repurposed, by bringing it to a local store or mailing it in.

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The North Face Clothes the Loop

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The North Face Clothes the Loop allows you to bring in used apparel and footwear of any condition or brand and receive a $10 reward towards your next purchase of $100 or more. Items are repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys, and fibers for new clothing.

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Other Options:

 

So now you know that your stained and ripped clothing can be used again!

I Keep Flamingos on the Fire Escape

There’s nothing quite as kitschy or screams summer like a plastic lawn flamingo.

I personally think they are hilarious and have always wanted to have one in my future yard, but never really came across any and I didn’t go out of my way to find them.

That was until I found this flamingo pair at a garage sale.

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And they are awesome! You can’t help but smile looking at them!

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According to the seller, they are cast-iron from the 1930’s and had recently been repainted. I did an e-bay search when I got home and could not find anything else like them online. They truly are one of a kind!

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Let’s keep in mind that I do not have a yard or any green space for that matter.

All we have is the fire escape.

So until then, the flamingos are going to hang out there with the mini grill and the compost bucket.

Recycling My Obsolete iPod

Today marked the end of an era.

I tried very hard to prevent it from happening, but sometimes we must let go of electronics that are 10 years old and no longer work.

And by “let go,” I mean recycle.

My Apple iPod Classic was purchased circa 2007-2008 with the money from my first job in high school. Together, we listened to favorite songs on repeat, and passed countless hours in the car, walking to class, and eventually walking to work.

 

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RIP iPod Classic 2007-2017

The battery started failing a few years ago, but since I no longer walk to work, it was not getting as much use anyway.

 

Eventually, it stopped holding a charge.

Then it would not turn on.

I brought it to the Apple Store a few months ago to see if there was anything they could do. Apparently, my iPod is so old that Apple classifies it as “obsolete.” There was not even an option on how to restore my decrepit device. After some messing around, the employee did get it miraculously to turn back on.

Unfortunately, it was a last ditch effort that only worked for a few days.

Months later, I finally got around to bringing my iPod back to the Apple Store to recycle it. It was a super easy process, where I just filled out a quick form, and I was on my way.

Speaking of recycling electronics, I also recently brought a broken Fitbit back to Best Buy, which was also easy peasy.

Now I want to know how and where do you recycle your old electronics?

More information on Apple’s Recycling Program.

More information on Best Buy’s Recycling Program.

 

Designing Our Kitchen Table

I previously posted about our sad kitchen table and the search for a new table, or at least a table that was new to us.

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While I still continue to stalk Craigslist for a good replacement, we have decided to use my dad’s skills and the family woodworking business to our advantage.

And this is not the first time we have.

See below.

IU chairs done

Dad saved the day when my attempt at stripping these chairs proved futile.

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When the shop had some left over bowling alley lanes from a previous project, we bought some legs and made a bench for our entryway/door.

 

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We bought this coffee table on Craigslist and on a slow day, the shop refinished the scratched up top for us.

 

Basically, my dad will solve all of our furniture problems.

Except for chairs, he won’t make those. (Sidenote, new chairs are so expensive!)

The plan is to have him model our table off of the West Elm Lena Mid-Century Dining Table. Except instead of spending $450+ on the West Elm version, we are going to fashion our own out of whatever random leftover wood the shop has lying around.

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West Elm Lena Mid-Century Dining Table

 

Stay tuned!

 

Jean Repair Attempt Failed

I have known for a while that my attempt at patching my jeans was failing, and yesterday they finally bite the dust.

jean rip

There is no saving these babies at this point, but since it is about to be short season, this is something I will probably put off until fall.

Have you made an attempt to repair something, but were met with utter failure?

At least I tried. I got another good 4 months out of my favorite jeans.

Take Those Wire Hangers Back

Does your closet ever look like this after a while?

 

dry cleaner hangers

Or more realistically, does it look like this?

 

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Anyway, I pretty much don’t get any of my clothes dry cleaned, but K gets a lot of his shirts pressed, so we end up with a mess of wire hangers every couple months.

These hangers cannot be recycled, and if you can’t think of anything else to do with them, they can get quite annoying.

Did you know you can just take them back to the dry cleaners?

I have brought a bag to the closest dry cleaner (one that K does not even use) a number of times and have never had a problem. They always accept them!

You can avoid the wire hanger overflow by following a number of steps:

  • Don’t purchase “Dry Clean Only” clothes
  • Refuse the hangers from the dry cleaner
  • If you do take them, reuse them!
  • If you cannot, bring them back!

 

 

How to Be a Craigslist Boss: Part 2

The other day, I posted Part 1 of How to Be A Craigslist Boss.

Now it is time for Part 2: Selling on Craigslist!craigslist

Creating Your Post Is Important

Good Images

I personally think the key to a good Craigslist ad is all in the pictures. I will never even look at a post without an image!

Seriously just take some good pictures of the item you are trying to sell. It will take 5 seconds. Most likely the quality of the phone on your camera is amazing, so there is absolutely no excuse for bad photos.

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Nooooooooo. No images and terrible headlines (see below).

Effective and Precise Headlines

No need for flashy headlines here, just be specific on what you are selling.

Say it is a couch and you are between two headline options.

Headline #1: “Great Deal! Comfiest Couch Ever!!!”

Headline #2: “Crate and Barrel Brown Leather Sectional- Good Condition”

The second option gives the buyer much more information than headline #1.

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I could not resist this headline though. Very clever!

Keywords

On the same note as headlines, you need to use specific keywords in order to get people to view your post. At the bottom of the post body, add tags to help people find it when searching.

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Good amount of keywords and not keyword overload.

Be Specific

Include any details that you happen to know about the item. Some details you may want to include:

  • Manufacturer
  • Age and when you bought it
  • Condition (missing pieces, scratches, dents, etc.)
  • Smoke and pet free home (especially important for upholstered items)
  • Dimensions
  • Any links to the item if it is still currently being sold

Pricing

Shoot for a price that is not too low and not too high, but leave just enough room for buyers to negotiate down.

You can list that your price is firm or will accept OBO (or best offer).  The good thing about Craigslist is that you can always change your price later if you are not getting any bites.

Make sure to do some research and see what similar items are going for on Craigslist too.

Also, take into account the condition of your item. If it is broken or missing pieces, say so and price accordingly.

Being Safe

Safety is an important aspect when you are selling things to random strangers online. 100% of the time, I have never once had an issue, but still please be careful.

  • Do not post your actual address. Just use your zip code or a major intersection in the area.
  • If you can, schedule to meet in a public place such as a crowded, well-lit parking lot.
  • Have another person with you if you can (I have actually brought my grandmother before, but not like she could help beat off an attacker).
  • Do not accept PayPal, check, wire transfer or anything like that. Go for cash only.

 

What has been your experience selling or buying on Craigslist? Or any additional tips? Let me know!

More Resources:

 

How To Be A Craigslist Boss: Part 1

I have bought and sold a ton of stuff on Craigslist.

Past roommates have even been found with it and that is a whole different story.

In fact, I furnished my entire dining and living room in DC with Craigslist items for under $400.

Below are two Craigslist tables currently hanging in our living room.

You can even find love on Craigslist and not in the Missed Connections section. My cousin met his now-wife through it because he bought her couch. Crazy, right?

Right now, I am searching Craigslist for a TV stand and dining table, but seriously you never know what you might find, which I think is the most fun part!

craigslist

Since I do most of my shopping lately on Craigslist, I thought I would put together a handy little list of tips for those who are new to finding and snatching deals on the platform.

1. How to Search Through Craigslist Crap Like a Boss

Search Terms

As I said before, I am looking for a TV stand, but I pretty much never just search “TV stand.”

So many different items can hold your TV. Some of the search terms I use include: “buffet,” “credenza,” “sideboard,” “dresser,”  and “media console.”

When looking for my kitchen table I either use just “table” to capture every kind or “kitchen table” and “dining table.”

Additionally, you can use the pipe key “|” to include an “or” in your search.

The Map Function

I find this most useful when looking for apartments, or when I am feeling particularly lazy and am wondering what people nearby me are selling.

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Check “Posted Today”

If you are looking for something common, such as the kitchen table I am looking for, Craigslist is inundated with these items all day long.

And if you spend any significant amount of time searching for something, you will notice the same posts you saw yesterday after a couple pages. To see what is newest, you can check the box for what was posted today.

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Knowing How to Filter

I also like to filter my results by newest posts instead of by relevance and price. The faster you can reply to a new post, the more chance you have to score that deal.

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There are a couple other ways to filter out unrelated posts too. To remove spam, you can filter the price to a minimum of $2.00. I also like to only search posts that have images and to bundle duplicate posts.

2. Timing Is Everything: When to Search

Obviously, you can check Craigslist anytime you want, but there are certain times of the year that will yield more results.

  • When people move: at the end of the school year or the end of the month
  • After holidays: people get new stuff and need to make room for it
  • Weekends: for when people need to sell stuff ASAP

3. Location Matters

Some geographic areas are just going to have better goods than others.

Chicago being a major metropolitan area provides a lot more opportunities for there to be a bedroom set you are into and a lot more people to buy that weird coffee table you have been trying to get rid of.

For instance, I have a friend who was in the market for a vintage Coleman cooler like ours below.

cooler

He lives in Michigan and Craigslist did not have any listings for these type of coolers, but when I searched in Chicago, there were at least 5 available. I ended up getting the cooler for him here in Chicago and he picked it up the next time they were in town.

Stay tuned for my next post on selling on Craigslist!

Additional Resources:

Can A Used Table Be An Upgrade? Yes!

Besides our couch, the kitchen table is probably used the most piece of furniture we own.

Except it is not actually used for dining.

It is where:

  • I work
  • I blog
  • We dump everything when we come in the door
  • The mail gets tossed
  • We put stuff from the kitchen to give us room to cook in there
  • And on and on

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The current kitchen table has been around for a number of years now. I picked it up at a garage sale and it made its first appearance in my apartment during graduate school. I ended up spray painting the legs black and re-staining the top since it was most definitely used as a kid’s table and had been covered in marker.

K used it in his previous apartment and it is now in our apartment.

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It has definitely made the rounds.

It’s a fine table. There is nothing really wrong with it, but it does not serve us anymore.

We can only fit two chairs underneath the table. That means only two people can ever sit there. We can never have people over for dinner (we only have 2 chairs anyway), or just sit at the table with more than one other person.

It is time to finally get a bigger kitchen table that can fit 4 adults where at least 2 are not standing up. And one where I did not do such a terrible job staining it. (This was even before last year’s debacle with stripping and staining our kitchen chairs).

Anyway, we want a quality piece of furniture that is going to last us many years, not just a quick fix that looks cute for the moment.

We like the style and look of a lot of West Elm tables, but we are not too keen on the price.

On the other hand, we are also willing to pay more for a quality piece.

For now, I will be been scouring Craigslist for a good deal. Maybe I will even find one at a vintage market this summer. Let me know if you find any!