repair

The 5 R’s

Back in the day, it was just the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.

3 r's

I know this because I did a science project about it in 6th grade and decorated it with puffy paint.

But since then, 2 new R’s have been added to the spectrum: refuse and rot.

There are other R’s that people add such as repair and repurpose, but I kinda lump those under reuse, so I am going to leave those out for now.

The best way to visualize the 5’s is in an inverted pyramid, with our biggest, most common actions on top, leading down to what we should be doing the least at the very bottom.

So at the top of this inverted pyramid, we have our number one way to avoid waste and that is Refuse. Saying no is the number one way to keep stuff out of the landfill. I talked about this recently in my 10 Most Overlooked Ways to Reduce Waste post. Saying no keeps those items from entering our lives in the first place, be they straws, food packaged in plastic, or freebies. Collectively saying no, and therefore decreasing demand, also can spur change.

After we have refused all the bad stuff (excessive packaging, food that’s grown far away, etc.) it is time to focus on what we do have and use, and then Reduce it. Don’t go out to eat for lunch every day or cut back on buying new clothes.

Now we have a curated list of items that we own and use. Sometimes those items will break, need some fixing or their original purpose becomes unnecessary. This is where Reuse (and repair and repurpose) comes it. Turn that old dresser into a jazzed up TV stand. Unleash your inner DIY goddess.

Now we get into the last resort part of the pyramid. If we cannot Refuse, Reduce, or Reduce something, then the next place it should head is into your compost bin to Rot.

Who knew that many years after middle school I actually would be composting!

Pictures

But plastic is not compostable, so any milk jugs and glass bottles (that you have not already refused and reused) should then be Recycled. Notice that recycling is pretty far down the list.

It definitely is not as far as the very last option of the Landfill, the place where your trash goes on to live forever. I love when trash cans are labeled with “landfill.” It helps you think before you toss that your gum wrapper is going to head to a giant hole in the ground and not to this fantasy land of “away.”

 

What is in a landfill?

Not sure this information is accurate anymore…

 

And that’s the 5 R’s (+ Landfill)! Here is an example of one piece, say a magazine, going through each step of the pyramid.

  • Refuse: You are offered a free magazine subscription that you politely decline
  • Reduce: You still love reading physical magazines (and if you do, that is great! You do you!) so you cut back on how many you subscribe to and get the rest online.
  • Reuse: After reading the magazine, you cut out the pages to decoupage a DIY project or use the pages as padding material for your Christmas ornaments.
  • Rot: When your done with your DIY projects, you add it to your compost pile or bucket
  • Recycle: If you don’t have access to composting, you toss the magazine in the recycling bin.
  • Landfill: If you don’t do any of the above things…

 

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10 Most Overlooked Ways to Reduce Waste: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2!

If you missed Part 1, you can check that out here.

10 most overlooked ways to reduce waste.p2

Let’s get right into it.

#5 Vote with Your $$$

Every time you purchase something, you are contributing to its demand. This is simple economics.

Put your money towards products and companies that you believe in. If it is important to you that your items are produced using renewable energy, then support companies that do.

For instance, there is a fair trade shop just around the corner from our apartment and it is currently struggling, so after work today I popped in and used my dollars to buy wool dryer balls and Bee’s Wrap. My dollars did not just get me faster-drying clothes in the dryer but they made a statement that I support these kinds of shops and want them in my neighborhood.

Resources:

#6 Your Pantry and Fridge

Open your fridge.

Now open your pantry.

How much of the stuff in there is going to end up in the trash can/landfill? I am not just talking about food packaging and wrappers, but food waste too.

Keep this in mind when you are at the grocery store. I am not asking you to only shop in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods, but just start noticing.

Once you do it is hard to shake it.

 

CSA week 7

Joining a CSA helped us cut down on packaged produce, but sometimes we still received things in plastic. 

 

Resources for Cutting Back on Packaging:

#7 Wait it Out

When I find something that I want (not need), I bookmark it in my browser under a folder called “Things I Want to Buy.”

And then I leave it there for days, weeks, and months.

If I am still thinking about it long after I saved it, then I will consider it further. If not then it gets deleted, and to be honest, not many things have survived the “Things I Want to Buy” folder.

Basically, avoid impulse buys by having a waiting period for each item. You might find that you didn’t like it as much as you thought, or get home and realize you already have 5 black sweaters.

Resources:

#8 Put Some Effort into What You Already Have

Did something break? Then fix it.

Do your jeans have a hole in them? Sew them.

jean-patch2

The #8 overlooked way to create less waste is also known simply as taking care of your stuff! Wash and dry clothing according to the directions. Store equipment in the proper place. Use a coaster. Give your car regular maintenance. Fix the soles of your shoes when they have worn through.

Putting a little extra effort or elbow grease will make your stuff live a longer life.

Resources: 

#9 Buy Secondhand/Previously Loved

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that the majority of our furniture is secondhand. Everything pictured below has either come from Craigslist, a garage sale, or family/friends.

Not only is it way cheaper than buying anything new, but it keeps pieces out of the landfill. Beyond furniture, I do have some pieces of clothes that are secondhand, but the majority of my wardrobe is not. It is something I am working on.

Resources to get your secondhand shopping on:

#10 Don’t Give into Trends

The fashion world likes to tell us that we need new styles of clothing every few months. If it is not the 70’s bell sleeves, the chokers, or those “cold shoulder” shirts, it will be something else tomorrow. That way you can buy, buy, buy.

Don’t give into that crap. You don’t need any of it. I like to think that the clothes I purchase will be something I wear for a long time, so I stay away from trends and keep my closet pretty neutral.

Whatever the next ridiculous trend is, pass on it, and just wear your regular sweater that covers your shoulders with pride!

More Resources:

 

What else would you add to the list?

Hole Filled Jeans Become Housing Insulation

Earlier in the year, I tried fixing my favorite pair of jeans by patching them.

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It worked for a couple months. but then this happened

jean rip

These jeans became beyond repair, but I couldn’t bear to just toss them out with the garbage when they were in no shape to be donated.

So I did what any rational person would do.

I hoarded them for several months until I figured out what I could do with them.

Enter Madewell.

Madewell3

They have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green to execute a pretty neat jean recycling program. Bring in ANY type of jean to one of their stores and they will help turn them into housing insulation.

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So far, they have collected over 1 million pieces of denim and saved over 600 tons from going into the landfill.

Right now, Madewell is running The Denim Forever Tour, hosting pop-up recycling stations at locations all around the country.  So check out if they will be anywhere near you between now and October.

Below is what my hole-y jeans will become! Insulation to warm people’s houses.

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Just for dropping off your jeans, Madewell will provide a $20 coupon towards a new pair of their jeans.

Check out this cool video about the program.

 

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

conservation queen text

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

usagain-logo

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

CTR logo

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

clothes-the-loop-video

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.

clothes-the-loop-hero


Other Options:

 

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

I Still Drive the Same Car From High School

When I was a junior in high school (2006), I got my first car.

It was a 1998 Toyota Rav4.

And today in 2017, I still drive that almost 20-year-old car.

Gomez2

That car, affectionately named Gomez, has been the perfect car.

It got me through all 5 years of driving back and forth to school in Indiana. Gomez hung out in storage for a bit while I lived in DC, and now is an amazing city car. But since my car is so old, I don’t get concerned about any new bumps or marks from everyday street parking.

At first, it may seem a little silly that I still drive the same car I did when George W. Bush was President and when I could not legally vote. My friends’ have all gotten new cars since high school (for the most part), and my brother has gone through what feels like eight cars.

But ultimately, I think it is kind of neat that my car is still around and running.

At this point in life, I don’t need to replace Gomez. I do not rely on my car for work and am not traveling copious miles each day on my commute, but there are definitely some drawbacks to driving a car that was designed and built when I was 6 years old.

Pros of Driving My Super Old Car:

  • No monthly car payments
  • No obsession over keeping it scratch free
  • Gomez is very recognizable (that could also be considered a con)
  • Tiny SUV makes parallel parking easy
  • Can fit a lot of stuff in it

Cons of Driving My Super Old Car:

  • Probably not Is not fuel efficient
  • Probably lacking in safety technology (there are at least 2 airbags)
  • Lacking in all technology (it was upgraded to a CD player before I got it, but that serves as a reminder that it originally came with a cassette player)
  • It’s showing its age and those repairs cost $$$

gomez1Even if I eventually replace Gomez, it won’t ever be with a new car straight off the lot. A used car will work just fine.

How do you feel about driving old cars? Is it better to drive them til the end or upgrade to a more efficient model?

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.

DIY: Saving My Favorite Jeans

My jeans always rip in the exact same place. Right in the crotch area.

In the past, I have had my grandmother patch them up for me. Sometimes the same pair would get repaired several times like the one below.

While folding my laundry last week, I noticed my newest pair of jeans (over a year and a half old) have finally achieved the dreaded crotch rip. I was not shocked or surprised. This was bound to happen eventually.

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Besides this tiny hole in a not so noticeable spot, the jeans are just fine. There was no need to fret, I was going to patch them myself!

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My sewing skills are even more sub-par than my knitting skills. I can sew buttons and seams together, but nothing this extensive (is this considered extensive?).

Now was my chance to learn a new skill that I could continue to use for years to come!

First, I needed some supplies I did not currently have in my possession.

  1. pinking shears
  2. fusible

I looked up what pinking shears cost and they aren’t too expensive, but so far I have gone my entire life not needing them, so there is no point in making that purchase now. Instead, I chose to borrow a pair from my grandmother. #vintage

After a quick trip to Jo-Anne’s for fusible, I gathered all my supplies and was ready to go.

jean-patch7

First things first, I cut out a patch of denim from my now scrap pair of jeans. My plan was basically just to reinforce the crotch/thigh rub area so it would not rip any further.

 

I figured sewing the patch straight into the seam would help keep the fabric strong. To help, I used fusible, which basically turns your patch into an iron-on. I have never used fusible before and figured it could not hurt my pants any further.

 

Once the patches were ironed on, it was time to start sewing and this took a much longer time than I had thought! If I had a sewing machine this definitely would have been done sooner, but alas I do not. A used sewing machine is on my wish list (hint hint).

jean-patch15

Sewing the patches too frustratingly long. I started this Friday afternoon and did not finish until Sunday evening, but hey, at least I can wear my jeans on Monday!

They aren’t perfect, but I think I did a pretty decent job for my first try and I know I have more to learn.

Have you ever tried to patch your favorite pair of jeans before? Do you have any better suggestions for the next time this happens to me?