repurpose

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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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?

 

dry cleaner hangers1

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!

 

 

Vintage Shop Hoppin’

It is no secret that I love secondhand, thrift and vintage finds. So when I heard about the Vintage Shop Hop, I was all over it.

2 days

300+ stores

Northeastern IL and Southeastern WI

Sign. Me. Up. 

vintage-shop-hop

While I did not get to caravan all over IL  and WI for two days, I did get to spend the entire day with my Mom driving around the Northern suburbs. From 9 AM – 3 PM, we hit approximately 16 different shops (with a quick lunch break).

 

 

I was on the lookout for a number of things:

  • A plant stand for our future herb garden
  • A catch-all for K’s dresser
  • Cake stands for the wedding
  • Vintage house/address numbers for table numbers for the wedding
  • A TV stand
  • Napkins and handkerchiefs

While it was a super amazing day of getting to look at so many different vendors, we did not load up the car like we had hoped.

That is okay because I want my finds to be perfect, not just so-so.

As we finished the winding hallways of an antique mall, I found the perfect plant stand.

I took one look at the chrome and white enamel kitchen cart and said, “This is the one!”

kitchen-cart

It is a beauty and I cannot wait to show you what I end up doing with it. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

My Favorites: Second Hand Things

I pride myself in having filled probably 75% of our apartment with second-hand things. I don’t really see the point in buying something brand new when there are plenty of other options out there.

There was a time when I was living in DC where my roommate moved out and took all the living room furniture with her. I was left to furnish it myself, and since I was on a budget, it all came from either craigslist or the dumpster behind my apartment building. I traveled around the District picking up a kitchen table and chairs, coffee table, couch, arm chair, and end table. All without a car.I ended up furnishing the entire place for under $250.

Now that I am on to my next apartment, it is no different. I love having pieces that are old, tell a story, and remind me of how I acquired them. As much as I love Home Goods, I would much rather have knick knacks that have a meaning/purpose.

These are my favorites:

Our copper bottom pots and pans were a wedding gift for my grandma and grandpa in 1953 and still going strong! My cousin used them for a while after college and now I have them! A little copper cleaner and they still look and work great.

copper pans

The metal cabinet was found while scrounging through a family friend’s warehouse that needed to be cleaned out. Read more about its transformation here.

cabinet done

Our couch was originally my aunt and uncle’s. Their labradoodle, Murphy, had a specific spot he would sit in and you can definitely see that spot in the leather.

couch

The blue end table was bought on craigslist in DC. I took the metro out to a part of the District I wasn’t familiar with, picked it up and walked a couple blocks with it. Once I found a taxi, I shoved it in the trunk and headed home with my new find. It needs a new coat of paint and then will look brand new!

end table

These pillows came with the couch I found on craigslist in DC and they were super ugly, but I did not want to get rid of them so I just got crafty. Can you tell I was homesick for the Midwest?

pillows

The bedroom set was my other grandmother’s set that my dad had refinished. Since she has passed away, it is a nice memory of her and makes my mom happy that it is being used. It is also quite in style now!

dresser

A bowling pin my parents picked up at the Randolph Street Market because they thought I would like it and an IU 1976 NCAA Champs 7Up bottle I found at a garage sale in Indiana. Go Hoosiers!

bowling pin and bottle

Rival Ice-O-Matic ice crusher that was in my grandmother’s basement and thought was super cool looking.

ice o matic

Vintage Coleman cooler we searched for and found at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market. Right now it is being used for storage.

cooler