Too much stuff

How To: Not Buy Baby Stuff

We have not bought much for this baby so far.

I haven’t bought a cute outfit or a soft blanket. Really all we have bought is some stuff for the nursery and most of it was either given to us or purchased secondhand (that’s a post for later!).

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Our first baby purchase were some little booties from our alma mater to announce the pregnancy.

The moment we found out we were expecting, we knew that it would be a slippery slope of baby stuff coming from every which direction, be it grandparents, friends, or a box being delivered on our doorstep.

For me personally, not buying stuff for the baby was not all that hard. Given that we don’t know the gender, there wasn’t much I could get anyway unless I wanted my baby to dress exclusively in grey and white (gender-neutral clothes are so lame <insert eyeroll>).

For others though, the urge to shower me in stuff was a little stronger and I had to have a conversation with both future grandmothers not to run out to Homegoods and buy everything in sight.

Right now, pretty much everything in baby’s nursery has come from someone else, be they hand me downs from other little babies in our lives or pieces of furniture.

This baby is going to get stuff though, even with the uncertainty of my baby shower even happening. I did my best to be conscious of what was going on my registry. I focused on multi-purpose items such as our bassinet/pack-in-play combo and a high chair that grows with baby. and quality materials such as wood, cotton, and glass over plastic.  Using Babylist, I was also able to ask for non-material items, such as house cleaning, babysitting, and home-cooked meals. I could even ask for preloved clothes and books!

Any advice for keeping the overwhelming amount of baby stuff at bay? Please share!

 

 

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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?

Salvation Army Vs. Goodwill

When we clean out our closets, move, are making way for new things, or are deciding which items in our lives “spark joy,” there is bound to become a donation bag.

It may be the giveaway pile or donate box, whatever you call it, it has to go somewhere.

The old books you’ve already read can be handed off to a friend looking for a new summer read, sold on Craigslist, or posted on the many Buy Nothing Project groups for someone else to enjoy.

More often than not though, with our busy lives, it becomes just too much work to try and find a new home for your items and coordinate a time to have it picked up. So the items get dropped off at a donation center because you want the stuff out of your house NOW.

Recently, I was asked which was a better place to donate your pre-loved items, Goodwill or Salvation Army? I didn’t have a clear answer, so obviously this became a good blog topic.

Salvation Army

According to their mission statement, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

They work to meet all sorts of human needs from helping disaster survivors and stopping domestic abuse, to combating addiction and assisting the unemployed. Learn more about what they do here.

Donating clothing and goods to The Salvation Army helps fund addiction rehabilitation programs. You can donate at their Family Stores and drop-off locations or schedule a free pickup. We had The Salvation Army come to pick up our couch once. It was nice that they could take care of that.

According to CNN, the Salvation Army spends 82% of donations on aid and you can check out Salvation Army’s sustainable development goals here.

Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose mission is “to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” They seek to help all job seekers and in 2017, Goodwill helped more than 288,000 people find employment.

Donating your items to Goodwill helps create job opportunities by funding job training and services and they also claim it keeps billions of pounds of textiles and clothing from meeting their end in the landfill. You can calculate the impact of your donation on their website which is pretty cool. For instance, if I donate 5 shirts, that provides 31 minutes of on-the-job training.

But is that what really happens? This Huffington Post article does a good job of explaining what happens to your clothes when you drop them off at Goodwill. In reality, after the good stuff has been picked out and the unusable has become rags, the rest gets shipped overseas. I was not able to find anything that directly explained what they did with stuff when it didn’t sell, but here is a blog about their sustainability initiative.

What’s the Verdict?

It is up to you! Both are keeping materials from the landfill and helping others in the process. I am sure there are parts of each that some may not agree with, but both are better options than tossing your clothes in the garbage. To avoid having to go through all your clothes and donating every few months, be conscious of your purchases and only buy what you actually need, buy secondhand, or attend a clothing swap.

What are your thoughts?

Honeymoon Packing List…Ha, Yeah Right

You know those posts that detail every little new thing you should buy for a vacation or a honeymoon?

Or my favorite ones that refer to their list as honeymoon essentials.

This Tried & Tested: Honeymoon Fashion Essentials article tells me that I need the following:

  • eye-catching carryalls (are those purses?)
  • a sultry, yet sweet robe
  • something that screams “newlywed” (my worst nightmare)

Honeymoon Essentials No Bride Should Go Without preaches that I must have:

  • a monogrammed tote
  • another robe
  • and a sweet perfume

10 Things to Put on Your Honeymoon Packing List also suggests perfume and numerous special outfits…

You know what new items I bought to bring on my honeymoon? Two things: one pair of hiking socks and hiking pants.

That’s it.

To be fair, we were honeymooning in Canada and were hiking and lounging most of the time.

But either way, my point is that you don’t need a ton of new stuff for one trip. Use what you have. I had hiking socks, but not enough to go for 7 days. I certainly don’t need “eye-catching carryalls” to celebrate my marriage.

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So here I am casually on top of a glacier wearing my honeymoon pants and socks (more on the glacier part in another post), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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It was a little cold for teeny tiny bikinis in Canada anyway.

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We definitely did see another couple on the trail in their “newlywed” attire, wearing matching Mr. and Mrs. shirts.

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That’s not our style. I am also wearing my glasses because I legitimately left my contacts back in Chicago.

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So if I did have to make a honeymoon packing list, I would suggest that you make sure you bring all of your visual aids.

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So that you can truly see and enjoy all the scenic views.

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Who is Bea Johnson?

While most people involved in reducing their waste have heard of her, most of my friends and family who read this blog have no idea who Bea Johnson is.

Well, Bea Johnson, of Zero Waste Home, started the whole Fit-My-Entire-Family’s-Annual-Waste-in-A-Mason-Jar trend.

That’s right.

Her family of four can fit all the waste that they produce annually in one jar.

 

This is her family’s waste for 2017. Source: https://zerowastehome.com/about/bea/

The reason I am bringing her up is because I had the opportunity to hear her speak on Monday at the Shedd Aquarium thanks to an event put on by my buds over at Zero Waste Chicago.

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I have not been to the Shedd in ages, mostly because I am terrified of fish and only like free museums, but they are super involved in conservation through their Great Lakes Action Days and plastic waste reduction through their Shedd the Straw campaign.

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The evening started out with an action expo of numerous local organizations and businesses striving to reduce their waste. I knew most of the organizations in some way or another and got to see a lot of familiar faces.

I did get to pick up some low-waste powder laundry detergent from Meliora Cleaning Products, which I am super excited to test out. That’s a post for another day.

After the expo, we filed into the auditorium to hear Bea speak about living without waste.

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Bea’s journey to a zero waste lifestyle started in 2006 when her family first moved to be closer to town and it’s walkability. She outlined her failures with making her own cosmetics, shampoo, and even toilet paper.

She and her family follow the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Rot, which I have posted about before.

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Her family refuses what they do not need and say no to single-use plastics, promotional freebies, junk mail, business cards, and more.

Then they reduce what they actually need. One thing that she said really struck me, “Once we pass our comfort level, anything beyond that becomes excess.” That is absolutely true. She has 4 kitchen cooking utensils, uses only white vinegar and Castille soap to clean, and her entire wardrobe can fit in a carry-on suitcase.

The family approaches reuse by swapping out disposables for reusable alternatives, which means glass jars for food, an old pillowcase for bread, and buying secondhand.  Everything they buy is from a thrift store or from E-Bay for super specific purchase you can’t easily find.

After that, they recycle what they cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse. Contrary to what people believe, living a zero-waste lifestyle encourages you to recycle less. Whatever is left is composted, or rot.

Overall,  Bea Johnson finds the best benefit of her lifestyle is the simplicity, which is something I can get behind. Although I understand and support her lifestyle, I know that for some people, it is just not attainable, which is totally fine.

You may never be able to fit a year’s worth of trash in a jar and that’s okay (I know I won’t). Every small step or implementation of one of the R’s is a step in the right direction.

 

 

I advise you to learn more about Bea and Zero Waste Home. It is really interesting. And with that, I leave you with these two pieces from Monday:

“When you live with less you have more time to do what is important to you.”

“It’s a life based on being instead of having.”

 

Update on A Resolution

As part of my new year’s resolutions, I am working on reducing my clothing purchases and focusing on second hand when I need to.

 

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A pair of secondhand jeans I found last year. 

 

We are only three months into the year, so plenty to go, but so far I have attended a clothing swap and only purchased 1 new pair of pants for work.

 

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My first experience at a clothing swap.

 

My bridal shower has come and gone and I did not buy a new outfit. I thought about it, I searched around, but there was nothing that I really liked. It seemed silly to buy a new outfit for the occasion, so I even looked into Rent the Runway.

In the end, I wore an outfit I had for ages with a pair of shoes I have worn to a gazillion other weddings.

To be honest, I got plenty of compliments.

 

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Don’t worry, those balloons have been saved and will be reused. 

 

Luckily, I have friends who have gotten married previously, so I was even lent a wardrobe of white dresses to wear for any other upcoming wedding events. Thanks, guys!

I don’t foresee any other issues in the immediate future that would require me to make new clothing purchases. So, for now, I just don’t browse for clothes on the internet, stay away from physical stores, and unsubscribe from any mailing list who’s subject line starts with SALE!